* Creating a community of women to form a support system and safe space for women entrepreneurs
GIZ India’s Project Her&Now has been creating a conducive framework for women-led businesses in India since 2018 through various interventions. One such initiative has been the SHELeads program conducted in partnership with Unlock Impact to cultivate leadership amongst women entrepreneurs. The initiative focused on empowering women entrepreneurs to identify, develop and nurture their leadership styles and run a successful and sustainable business. The SHELeads program hosted a total of 86 women entrepreneurs from all over India, for 8 weeks. These women came from varying entrepreneurial backgrounds, with new and old businesses across multiple sectors and industries.
The SHELeads program was an effort to bridge the massive gap between leadership and entrepreneurship opportunities for men and women. There are fewer women in the workplace than men, this number has further reduced post-pandemic. The number of women actively looking for work reduced by 34% in Urban India, shows CMIE and CEDA data. This didn’t mean an increase in female entrepreneurship either. According to a 2020 report by IWWAGE & ISST, only 13.7% of the entrepreneurs in India are women and the number of self-employed women fell by 4.8% in 2018-19.
Keeping this in mind, GIZ Her&Now created a virtual leadership program for women entrepreneurs that covered themes on gender, business, and leadership. Post an assessment of the challenges women face in their entrepreneurial journey, the training module was created to focus on seven relevant topics. The included topics were 1) Mindframes: Playing to win or to lose, 2) Conquering your imposter syndrome, 3) Building your personal brand, 4) Getting investment ready, 5) Effective leadership, 6) Building a strong company culture, and finally, 7) Navigating your unconscious bias. This curated curriculum was delivered through a series of interconnected online video lessons released each week, along with a reflection exercise that participants were required to complete.
The lesson plans were kept agile, through a learn at your own pace curriculum, given the fact that most women have multiple roles to fulfil. In addition to the lessons, the program facilitated networking events for the women to get access to peers and form a community within SHELeads, and create a support system and safe space for the women to get the help they need.
Julia Karst, Head of Project Her&Now, GIZ said, “The future of work is evolving. More women need to join the workforce and fill leadership positions. GIZ’s Project Her&Now has been creating an enabling environment for women-led enterprises in India, and we are proud to have been able to provide guidance and leadership training to 100+ women as part of this initiative. The SHELeads programme focused on equipping these entrepreneurs with the right set of skills and prepared them to be strong leaders of their businesses and teams.”