Updated on 20 Nov 2020, 5:56 pm
Women entrepreneurs in Northeast India has been making a great stride in contributing to the country’s economy. They can now look forward to greater opportunities, as the US Consulate General Kolkata in partnership with the Asian Confluence think tank launched the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) project, the first-ever in India, on Friday.
Celebrating the Global Entrepreneurship Week 2020, US Consulate Kolkata’s Acting Consul General Monica Shie kicked off the project, which was live-streamed through the US Consulate Kolkata Facebook page.
The White House-led project brings together 150 women entrepreneurs and early-stage business owners from five North-eastern states - Nagaland, Meghalaya, Assam, Manipur, and Arunachal Pradesh. They will be mentored and supported through this two-year-long project.
Marie Royce, Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), US Department of State, delivered special remarks through a video message.
“Expanding US Consulate General Kolkata’s work to strengthen the entrepreneurship ecosystem in East and Northeast India, with a particular emphasis on empowering women, I enthusiastically support the Consulate’s participation in AWE, and I am thrilled to be here for the launch of that initiative today. I congratulate each of the participants," Royce said
Acting Consul General Monica Shie said, “I am so proud that this afternoon we are joined by 150 such change-makers – the first cohort of India’s maiden AWE program. We launched the application announcement on September 1 and we are overwhelmed with the record number of applications that we received, some from really remote corners of the Northeast.
“The selection process was a rigorous one, and each of you should be proud that you made it! I want to congratulate each of the participants for their enterprise, courage, and initiative. This global programme will help them explore not just the fundamentals of business and capital, but build a better future for families, communities, and their states.”
Sabyasachi Dutta, Executive Director, Asian Confluence said “Gender equitable Entrepreneurship development is the need of the hour in realizing the true potential of the North-Eastern region. Endowed with immense natural and human capital, the region is also one of India’s gateways to South East and East Asia, leveraging on which holds the enormous promise of growth. It has been a thrilling journey, engaging with our extensive network of ground partners and friends to connect with the best women entrepreneurial talents. We look forward to working with them, empowering them with the tools and knowledge that AWE offers and sharing their journey ahead in realizing their dream”.
K Moses Chalai, Secretary, North Eastern Council was also present at the occasion. He said, “Given the present economic slowdown that we face across the world due to the pandemic, it is of utmost importance that we find ways to bounce back with effective policies, projects and initiatives to help us get back on a reasonably strong and dependable growth path. I am sure that the AWE India program, with its focus on promoting entrepreneurial ideas of women in this region, will contribute effectively towards this goal. I will be keenly interested to know how this initiative progresses and explore ways to connect our programs and initiatives that the AWE project aligns with.”
B Paul Muktieh, Chairman and Managing Director, NEDFi, observed, “The AWE initiative is extremely aligned with NEDFi's core mandate and activities. My institution will be happy to connect with the women who emerge as some of the front runners of the cohort that AWE India is going to create and nurture to see how best we can facilitate their entrepreneurial spirit and ideas in the days to come.”
Jahnabi Phookan, National President of FICCI Ladies Organization (FLO) and US State Department alumna encouraged the participants and shared insights about the work that they are doing to boost women’s entrepreneurship in Northeast India in collaboration with the local governments.
AWE is supporting the selected cohort of prospective women entrepreneurs and early-stage business owners by providing US-style online education with guided facilitation from US State Department alumni, local women business leaders, and other partners. Participants represent a diverse mix of business ideas in sectors that include agri-tech, education, tourism, health, and waste management among others. The women entrepreneurs from the Northeast are joining the AWE global network that will support participants’ access to peer-to-peer mentorship, business partners, and scaling opportunities with businesses in the region and in the United States. AWE is designed to empower women worldwide to fulfil their economic potential and create conditions for increased stability, security, and prosperity for all.
Over the next two years, the project will create a sustainable network of women entrepreneurs in the five states of Northeast India, including Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, whose location on India’s easternmost border provides opportunities to strengthen ties with the Indo-Pacific corridor countries.