Women-owned enterprises represent about 10% of all MSMEs in India and employ over eight million people. A 2014 International Finance Corp. (IFC) study found that nearly three-fourth of women-owned MSMEs have an unmet financial need. Out of a total financing demand of $158 billion in India, formal financial sources are able to channel only $42 billion. Many Women Owned Business (WOB) either wind up their businesses or stay small, mostly due to a critical challenge — lack of credit and lack of confidence.
In September 2011, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. launched its Global Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative to improve the lives of underserved women and help women-owned businesses succeed and grow. Walmart has pledged to empower nearly 1 million women through training and to promote diversity and inclusion representation within its merchandising and professional service suppliers. It also aims to double its sourcing from WOBs by 2016.
As part of this initiative Walmart in partnership with Vrutti and WEConnect India is supporting the’ `Entrepreneurship Development’ Programme For Women Owned Businesses – a 15 month capacity building programme for 25 Women Owned Businesses in NCR,Uttar Pradesh (Agra/Meerut), Punjab (Chandigarh/Jalalandhar), Andhra Pradesh (Vijayawada) and Telengana (Hyderabad) Regions to increase their capacity to become potential suppliers to Walmart. Vrutti, a non-profit organisation is a centre for sustainable livelihoods enhancing people’s well-being. WEConnect International is a non-profit organisation connecting women-owned businesses with multi-national corporate purchasing organizations across several countries including India.
During December 2015-January 2017 25 WOBs will be identified under the `Entrepreneurship Development’ Programme For Women Owned Businesses to participate in an intensive capacity building and mentoring program to make them stronger and more profitable and resilient businesses producing better quality products and poised to grow and scale up their business through a capacity building program that will include -
a. Enterprise Capacity Building
b. Life Skills Development
c. Need based Technical Support
d. Linkages for financial support
e. Creating learning networks
The first component on Enterprise Capacity Building will include modules for strengthening the performance of businesses – such as improving business planning and financial management of enterprises. Under Life Skills the project will address issues such as communication, execution excellence, industrial Law, gender roles ,responsibilities and strengthening managerial skills of women entrepreneurs. Technical support modules will include guidance on improving production efficiency, quality of products and inventory management. The project will create learning networks among participants. It will also facilitate backward and forward linkages between participants with supplier networks and potential buyers – with a particular focus on how to become a supplier to Walmart.
Participation in `Entrepreneurship Development’ Programme For Women Owned Businesses will increase the awareness, capacities and confidence of WOBs. They will also be linked to WEConnect and supported to start the process of WEConnect certification. This programme will thus not only strengthen financial and technical linkages for WOBs but also link them to mentors and business networks to turn them into strong businesses that can participate successfully in national and global value chains.