NITI Aayog partners with Cisco to foster women entrepreneurship in India

Aug 26: Building on their sharedcommitment to empowerwomen entrepreneurs across India, NITI Aayog, the Government’s public policy think tank, and Ciscotoday launched the next phase ofthe Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP).Titled”WEP Nxt”, this next phase of NITIAayog’s flagship platform will leverage Cisco’s technology and experience working with India’s startup ecosystem to enable more women-owned businesses across the country. Amitabh Kant (CEO NITI Aayog), Anna Roy (Senior Adviser NITI Aayog),Maria Martinez (EVP & COO, Cisco), Daisy Chittilapilly (President, Cisco India & SAARC) and Harish Krishnan, (Managing Director, Public Affairs and Strategic Engagements, Cisco India and SAARC), were present at the launch.

WEP, initially launched by NITI Aayog in 2017, is a first-of-its-kind, unified portal that brings together women from diverse backgrounds and offers them access to a multitude of resources, support, and learning. WEP Nxt is a significant step to augmentthese efforts.Based on a focused study of Indian women entrepreneurs and their most urgent needs across six key verticals – community and networking, skilling and mentorship, incubation and acceleration programs, and financial, compliance, and marketingassistance – WEPNxt will be driven by evidence-baseddecision-making. The focused study,fuelling this transition, is also being made available for the benefit of the ecosystem.

Additionally, as a part of this initiative, Cisco, in collaboration with the Nasscom Foundation, Sattva Consulting, and the DeAsra Foundation, will enable technology-led experiences and engagements to address the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs at individual and enterprise levels and create new opportunities for growth.

“As per the Sixth Economic Census, women only constitute 13.76% of the total entrepreneurs, i.e., 8.05 million out of the 58.5 million entrepreneurs in the country. This may have been a missed opportunity in the past, but I am confident as the Government of India and Private sector hold hands through initiatives such as the WEP, we will realise this vision of a new India – where men and women have the equal opportunity to build and to share in the glory of achievement, “ said Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog. “WEP Nxt will further catalyse this movement and I am confident with Cisco as our partner, this technology platform will soon be the personalized guide for every woman entrepreneur in the country to realize her dreams “

“As we enter a new phase of recovery, we see a collective agreement that a diverse, inclusive, and digitally-enabled world is far more prosperous,” said Cisco Chief Operating Officer, Maria Martinez. “It is our responsibility to step up to the challenges of inequity and create new pathways to economic prosperity that enable people and communities, especially women, to break through barriers, spark new ideas, and ignite innovation. We are excited about our partnership with NITI Aayog and hope to bring the benefits of digital technologies to more women-owned enterprises.”

“According to the WEP focused study, in addition to greater innovation, up to 170 million jobs could be created by 2030, and our annual GDP could rise by 1.5% if more women took up entrepreneurship – a massive opportunity lost if we delay action to uplift women-owned businesses,” saidHarish Krishnan, Managing Director & Chief Policy Officer, Cisco India & SAARC..”WEP Nxt is aimed at bridging the existing gaps and forging new possibilities for women in India.We are proud to partner with NITIAayog to accelerate our shared vision of a more inclusive and equitable future for all.”

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About Women Entrepreneurship Platform, NITI Aayog

The Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP) is NITI Aayog’s flagship initiative – a one-of-its-kind, unified informationportal for women entrepreneurs. It strives to improve industry linkages and awareness of existing programs and services and provide access to peer support, learning resources, fundraising opportunities and mentorship. With an overarching objective of becoming an aggregator platform that solves for the information asymmetry in the ecosystem, WEP serves as a one stop solution for information and services relevant to women entrepreneurs. The platform currently hosts over 16,000 registered users and 30 partners and caters to six focus areas: Funding & Financial Management, Incubation Connects, Taxation & Compliance Support, Entrepreneur Skilling & Mentorship, Community & Networking and Marketing Assistance.

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