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By Investing In Women We Are Investing In Future Opportunities For Their Children: Vandana Verma Ikea foundation

The event has witnessed stakeholders from across the board including women entrepreneurs, corporate buyers, government, industry mentors, to women industry associations, investors and media who came together to empower women entrepreneurs by connecting them with big and small corporates

Asia's largest women entrepreneurship and economic empowerment platform 'ThinkBig 2017' in its fifth edition, was held in Gurugram.
The summit is aimed to connect Indian and global corporations with medium and small businesses for future trade and collaboration.

With a core intention of bridging the gap between companies and women entrepreneurs, and to establish successful collaborations through strategic partnerships.
The event has witnessed stakeholders from across the board including women entrepreneurs, corporate buyers, government, industry mentors, to women industry associations, investors and media who came together to empower women entrepreneurs by connecting them with big and small corporates.

In a very interactive session on women becoming job seekers to job creators, a distinguished panel of the pioneers in this space, shared information on their challenges and success stories on empowering women through their organisations.
The session was moderated by Dr Abhinav Mathur, Founding Partner, Massive Fund and Incubator. Vandana Verma, IKEA Asia Liaison and Special Program lead; Aloka Mazumdar, Head- Sustainability, HSBC; B Kavitha Rajesh, Treasurer, ALEAP India gave a wonderful overview of the work their organisations are doing to empower and educate women to become effective entrepreneurs. Shifting from being "job seekers" to "job creators".
IKEA Foundation shared its program called DISHA, launched in collaboration with UNDP and IDF. The objective of the DISHA project is to provide one million underprivileged women with employment and entrepreneurship opportunities through skill building.

The objective is to make women self-sufficient so that they, their families and future generations have better opportunities in life. Through an integrated training and job placement approach, the project seeks to improve the linkages between education, skills, employment and enterprise building based on the model of public-private partnership for transformational impact in India.
Aligned to address the demand and supply side of women's employment, the DISHA project focuses on three verticals to improve women's participation in the workforce : Bridging the information gap, skilling for Jobs and Enterprise Development.
IKEA Asia Liaison and Special Program Lead Vandana Verma shared IKEA Foundation's belief that women can be the most important catalysts for change in their children's lives. "By empowering women, we can improve children's health, education and futures-and that's why we are supporting this innovative collaboration," she said.
'When women earn a sustainable income, their children are more likely to grow up healthy and go to school. By investing in women we are investing in better future opportunities for their children. We aim to enable women to become economically self-sufficient so they, their families, and future generations can have better opportunities in life," emphasized Vandana Verma.
Unfortunately, for many women, marriage and motherhood puts restraints and aren't encouraged to work.

"For them, self-employment and entrepreneurship is the logical option. However, women's prospects are limited by the lack of basic skills, information gaps pertaining to financial literacy, lack of access to capital, market linkages and even government schemes.
Disha is enabling women to start their own enterprises by bridging the information gap via counselling sessions, online information portals, teaching basic entrepreneurship is courses and life skills, Vandana shared some brilliant examples of new kind of enterprise models started by women in DISHA projects," highlights Verma.
With many success stories, DISHA program is striving to get more women in the workforce
ALEAP (The Association of Lady Entrepreneurs of India), an association that was established with an aim to bring Women Entrepreneurs trying to help each other on a common platform, has 10000 plus women members and manufacture from chips to microchips today.
Kavita Rajesh the treasurer of ALEAP too shared the importance of skilling, and that, "Education isn't a requirement for entrepreneurship, only zeal."
Through their programs like Vande Mataram, they empower women.
Kavita stressed the importance of collaborative efforts to move from being job seekers to job creators. And the need for bankers to promote access to finance. To bridge the information gap via mentorship is something else that she feels is a necessity. Via mentoring women will know which industries to work in, stay motivated to not drop out.
Aloka Mazumdar, Head- Sustainability, HSBC shared some very reassuring information about the work being done at HSBC to empower entrepreneurs.
"HSBC supports entrepreneurs via their Grant program portfolio and works on sustainable entrepreneurship via lending and sustainable finance," she shared.
Mazumdar shared that as result of 10-15 years of learning via the HSBC Skills for Life program, they have learned the importance of employment linked skill development, training of service providers and teaching of the basics of entrepreneurship in order to create and sustain entrepreneurs.
Although she did stress the importance of "Sustainable business models", in the absence of which skilling alone is pointless.
India will be the youngest country in the world in 2020, and Aloka stressed the need for entrepreneurship for job creation and supportive ecosystems to facilitate that.
Dr Mathur summed up the session beautifully by saying that " a woman's success is in their own hands if they empower each other then nothing can come in their way."

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