More ‘POWER’ to women in entrepreneurship
Platform of Women Entrepreneurs Registered (POWER) is an organisation with an objective to promote women in business. Having been launched on International Women’s Day in March 2009, POWER has created a platform for women entrepreneurs to come together and learn, develop, and support each other in order to collectively grow in their respective businesses.
“It was the combined effort of like-minded people who wanted to reach out and support women in business and also those who needed just that extra push to venture out,” said Renu Jayaram, founding member and former president. She added, “When we started out, there was a need to prove ourselves and the authenticity of the then-new concept. We have come a long way, gaining recognition for our work and also helping several women entrepreneurs to scale new heights.” Flagship events like ‘Power Parba’ and ‘Power Summit’ are organised on a yearly basis by the organisation, while ‘Empower’, an awards ceremony, is conducted to appreciate and acknowledge budding women entrepreneurs. The events consist of over a hundred stalls owned and set up solely by the working members. Entrepreneurship development programmes in educational institutions come under the programme plan, promoting ideas of entrepreneurship among the masses.
Today, the association has the strength of about 90 women, all involved in a variety of independent businesses of differing scales, including baking, handicrafts, textiles and more. “The members can expand their knowledge resulting in greater exposure to a variety of fields. Informative talks on government schemes and other beneficial insights are made available to the women during the monthly meetings. Networking and recommendations are provided, along with skill development techniques to help the young and aspiring entrepreneurs to branch out and successfully establish their business,” said Shruti Shenoy, the current president of POWER, who holds a vision to incorporate rural women entrepreneurs into the mainstream markets.
The journey that POWER took to achieve all this, however, wasn’t entirely smooth sailing. Every initiative faces challenges and so does POWER. “Initially, there was criticism regarding the whole concept being a conflict of interest as it looked like privileged women were getting the support who were quite self-sustainable unlike the other sections,” mentioned Renu. The other obstacles included the funds and sponsorship for the events, while the policy of no financial assistance made people hesitant to join the organisation. Yet with time and an increase in awareness, the reach has progressed considerably.
Moving forward, the organisation plans to take the entrepreneurship development programme a notch higher by combining it with leadership building by eminent professionals for business interested students. “Considering that we are part of the rural belt, I feel that as a mutual support organisation, it is imperative to bring in the Rural Entrepreneurship Development Programme. Women artisans and entrepreneurs in the rural areas are skilled and excel in their businesses; however, they need assistance to broaden their scale and widen their market. They have shown interest to join us recently and we shall also contact them via the Government Development Programme,” said Shruti, elaborating on her plans for the term.
“The purpose is right and so is our work in its direction,” stated Shruti, talking about their representation in state-level policymaking and conferences. With each term, POWER takes up new themes to better the level and impact of entrepreneurship in the society while the overall aim stands to bring maximum women entrepreneurs to the forefront.
Featured Image Courtesy: POWER- Platform of Women Entrepreneurs
Edited by: Rayna Lele