Thursday, February 21, 2019

small business ideas for women

small business ideas for women

What stops rural women from getting involved in entrepreneurship? - The Indian Express

Posted: 20 Feb 2019 11:11 PM PST

skill india, Biz Sakhi, Sustainable Development, rural India, jobs for women in rural India, women entrepreneurship, rural employment, Start and Improve Your Business Program, SIYB scheme, International Labour Organization, Indian express
Recent data released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation shows that women constitute only 14 per cent of the total entrepreneurs in the country. (Photo for representation)

In Dhani Shankar village, Bhiwani, Renu makes colourful bangles and cosmetic creams using natural ingredients. Renu was lucky to have received the support of her husband in starting her own enterprise. She was motivated to do this after attending a three-day Start-And-Improve-Your-Business training in Jui village, and, she started her shop with Rs 10,000. Now, Renu tells me, she makes a profit of Rs 8,000 in a month. Renu also motivates other women in her village as a Biz Sakhi and, with her help, 14 women have started their own businesses.

When Renu came to participate in the discussion on promoting entrepreneurship, she told me that rural women often face problems in entering the workforce due to their domestic duties. In fact, on an average, Indian women spend 297 minutes daily on unpaid care work.

The need to improve women's participation in the economy has been a long-standing priority and is also crucial towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, too. In recent years, entrepreneurship has emerged as an ideal way for rural women to contribute, by taking a few hours out of their day they can engage in small businesses and bring home additional income. There are multiple programmes which offer support to such women such as the Start and Improve Your Business Program (SIYB) of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the government's Trade Related Entrepreneurship Assistance and Development (TREAD). Our ongoing partnership with Hero MotoCorp Ltd and the Government of Haryana too seeks to positively impact the lives of 14,000 underprivileged women like Renu through training and entrepreneurial skill development.

However, recent data released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation shows that women constitute only 14 per cent of the total entrepreneurs in the country. So, what is stopping more rural women from getting involved in entrepreneurship?


Through its pilot programmes with rural women under the Disha Programme, UNDP India has come to realise that one of the reasons for this lack of uptake is the absence of mentorship for women entrepreneurs. Women in rural areas face multiple barriers to pursuing income-generating activities, with patriarchal family and societal norms being the primary hurdle. Renu was of course lucky to have a very supportive husband.

Other issues include lack of awareness about opportunities, difficulty in accessing formal financing and poor customer management skills. It is clear that providing opportunities isn't enough — these women need to be made aware and guided through the process to ensure they are successful.

Trained by Disha Project – a partnership between UNDP India, IKEA Foundation and India Development Foundation, the Biz Sakhis are women from rural communities who guide budding female entrepreneurs through multiple processes and provide both practical and psychological support to them. As a first step, they encourage rural women to start their own businesses by making them aware of entrepreneurship as a realistic opportunity, and, by informing them of the benefits of starting their own small businesses.

However, even after the women are trained, access to finance remains a big hurdle for rural women who often dip into their savings or take loans from their family. Biz Sakhis are instrumental at this point in helping them access formal banking channels for loans, by providing them information about schemes such as the Mudra Yojana Scheme of the government.

Again, even with financing, small female-run businesses often fail due to poor understanding of the market. Biz Sakhis provide inputs to help women access market linkages and introduce them to a variety of business models and ideas to help them scale up. They also work with small business owners to develop their communication skills, and to be able to persuade and negotiate with stakeholders within the ecosystem of their businesses.

However, the most important role that Biz Sakhis play in the lives of rural entrepreneurs, is to be the source of emotional and psychological support. It helps these women to become more confident in their abilities and have the determination to continue with their businesses.

Often, family pressures and societal norms discourage women from engaging in such activities or cause them to abandon their business in the wake of community backlash. Being from the community themselves, Biz Sakhis such as Renu can effectively engage with women and the community at large to counter such barriers and empower rural women to sustain their businesses.


This article first appeared in the print edition on February 21, 2019, under the title 'Enterprise empowerment'. The writer is the chief of skills and business development at UNDP India.

New Orleans Entrepreneur Week set March 25-29, with early internet tech industry founders of Netscape participating - The Advocate

Posted: 20 Feb 2019 03:12 PM PST

Initial programming and dates have been set for the 11th annual New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, a series of events March 25-29 featuring speakers, business pitch competitions, workshops and networking events.

The A.B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University and local nonprofit The Idea Village are collaborating on the activities, with more than 130 speakers and events, focusing on the themes of entrepreneurial hospitality as a top tourist destination with a reputation as an entrepreneurial hub, big data, diversity in investing and building scalable businesses.

The 2019 event again kicks off with three days of "NOEW in Your Neighborhood," where local partners and organizations host pitch competitions and events across the city March 25-27.

The NOEW Summit, which is comprised of two days of educational sessions, keynote speakers, pitch competitions and networking events, takes place March 28-29 at the Ace Hotel New Orleans.

Speakers include two founding fathers of the internet-based tech industry — Jim Clark, co-founder of Netscape, and Jim Barksdale, former CEO of Netscape — interviewed by Walter Isaacson, professor in the Department of History at Tulane University. Both leaders are featured as characters in the National Geographic TV drama series "Valley of the Boom," which explores the lives of early tech leaders in the boom and bust of the internet in the 1990s.

Other headline speakers include Casey Gerald, author of "There Will Be No Miracles Here" and co-founder of MBAs Across America; Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World, Good Sam Enterprises, Gander Outdoors and The House Boardshop, and star of CNBC reality shows about small businesses, "The Profit" and "The Partner"; Natalia Oberti Noguera, founder and CEO of Pipeline Angels and the creator and host of Pitch Makeover, a podcast about pitching and startups launched by women, non-binary people and men of color; and Shelly Porges, co-founder of The Billion Dollar Fund Campaign, president of the North American Jury for the Cartier Women's Initiative Awards and board member of the Global Banking Alliance for Women.

"For more than a decade, New Orleans Entrepreneur Week has been the hub for convening our entrepreneurial ecosystem, including founders, business professionals, idea starters and partners. It's truly the front door to innovation in our region," said Jon Atkinson, CEO of The Idea Village. "From people interested in seeing the future of business in New Orleans, to current and future entrepreneurs, to those looking to network, NOEW is an incredible community resource that offers a platform for the exchange of ideas."

Freeman School Dean Ira Solomon said, "New Orleans Entrepreneur Week represents a unique opportunity for us to connect local startups with mentors and investors from across the Tulane community."

For a list of speakers and registration, visit

Entrepreneurship And The Agri-Food Opportunity - Forbes

Posted: 20 Feb 2019 01:30 PM PST

About 90% of the world's young people live in developing countries.Getty Royalty Free

Every year, 10 million young people enter the workforce in Africa, yet over 60% don't find jobs. Across the world, an unprecedented number of young people are searching for meaningful work. Many are looking to entrepreneurship, picking up new technological tools and taking leaps of faith to create and grow their own businesses. Seeing few opportunities, they have created their own.

But no entrepreneur succeeds alone. They're supported by an expanding number of businesses, accelerators and organizations  155 in the agri-food space alone – including TechnoServe, an international nonprofit that promotes business solutions to poverty. I spoke with TechnoServe's CEO, Will Warshauer, about the urgent demographic challenges before us, examples of innovation in the agri-food sector, and how entrepreneurs are using technology to grow inclusive, sustainable businesses.

Lorin Fries: How do TechnoServe's mission and activities relate to agri-food entrepreneurship?

Will Warshauer: We help people earn money so they and their families can come out of poverty. Much of our focus is on agriculture, because that's still how the majority of the world's poor earn a living. About a quarter of our work is in entrepreneurship and business acceleration, through which we support people to access information, capital and markets. That's currently the fastest-growing part of our business.

Fries: What trends and challenges have prompted this increased focus on entrepreneurship, especially for youth?

Warshauer: About 90% of the world's young people live in developing countries. There are more than 64 million unemployed youth around the world, and another 145 million young workers are living in poverty. The scale of the challenge, and the opportunity, is enormous.

The concerns almost go without saying: with so many unemployed or underemployed, there is potential for political and social unrest, spiraling into a range of other problems. On the other hand, many of these young people are tech natives, better able to grasp how technology can help them solve problems, bringing energy and willingness to experiment into different settings and businesses. This gives rise to great economic opportunity.

Take Ethiopia as an example. It's an interesting moment there, with a popular and bright new prime minister who is pursuing very sound policies. There are many reasons to be optimistic about where that country is going, following a decade of growth at greater than 10% per annum. Of the country's 100 million people, over 40% are under the age of 15. These young people have high expectations ... yet there are so many that a year from now, many of the unemployed still won't have jobs. The risk, of course, is that they begin to turn on this prime minister, putting at risk a lot of good work and policy ideas that could support them in the long term.

Will Warshauer, CEO of TechnoServeCourtesy of Will Warshauer

Fries: TechnoServe uses various technologies to support entrepreneurs. Can you give some examples?

Warshauer: After looking at the local context to determine an entrepreneur's needs, we're increasingly leveraging technology to add a remote functionality to our programming, such as videos for training and SMS-based follow-ups. In Central America we run a program called Impulsa tu Empresa, which is the largest small and growing business accelerator in the region. That program has been a leader in blending in-person training with an online platform for entrepreneurs. In Tanzania, we work on a program called Business Women Connect that is helping women micro-entrepreneurs via text messages through gamification. It tells a story about a character similar to the women, and then participants can decide at various points what step the small businesswoman should be taking.

This is all promising, and we're eager to go further. We're launching an endeavor called TechnoServe Labs, which will be run out of Silicon Valley and connect to some of the world's great technology companies. One of our priorities is to establish a distance learning training app which, among other things, will help us with remote mentoring. We've found that working directly with a small businessperson on her real world problems, in real time, provides exceptional value to that entrepreneur. Doing more of this remotely, and expanding our reach, is a priority for our new Lab.

Fries: In light of our current technological revolution, how do you see entrepreneurs themselves integrating technology into small and growing businesses?

Warshauer: We're increasingly finding that entrepreneurs, especially younger ones, are using available technologies in creative ways. One story that makes me smile is of a young man in Rwanda, Emmanual Bunani, who went into the garlic business. He rented a plot of land to grow garlic for export, and was able to hire five people to work for him. His insight was that to get the best price, he got all his buyers onto a WhatsApp group, and then had those people bid against each other. He was able to get a substantially higher price through the use of WhatsApp.

Fries: What other examples of entrepreneurship are creating positive impact in food and ecological systems?

Warshauer: We're working with a business in Benin where we're quite active in promoting the cashew sector. Every year, we waste about 10 million tons of the red fibrous covering that grows on top of a cashew nut. Local entrepreneurs, learning from other countries, started making a nutritious juice out of this cashew nut covering. They have branded it Sweet Benin. After their first year, and getting some stars to talk about and drink it on TV, they tripled their production. Their target is up 18-fold. They're employing 36 people, and 30 of them are women. Most of the world's cashews are grown in Africa, but 95% of them are exported unprocessed, so all the value addition opportunities are usually missed. We're thrilled with their progress and we're watching them with great interest. I visited recently and got to drink a bottle or two of Sweet Benin. It's delicious.

Fries: Are you hopeful for the future when it comes to youth entrepreneurship, especially in the developing world?

Warshauer: I'm full of optimism. I have seen, time and time again, the transformation of young people who go from essentially sitting around doing nothing, to trying relatively simple interventions, to starting a businesses, and who are now employing dozens of people in their own communities and putting their family members through school.

I also see the so-called "youth bulge" as a business opportunity for providing young people with food, airtime, and the information and technology they need to run their enterprises. Just 10-15 years ago, particularly in Africa, such populations were approached with charity. They're now seen as high-growth markets.

As Nick Kristoff said, talent is universal; it's opportunity that's not. TechnoServe essentially exists to provide those opportunities. What gives me most hope is seeing young people seize and run with them.

This interview is part of a series on how technology and innovation are transforming food and ecological systems – and how to get it right for people and planet. The conversation has been edited for clarity and length. 

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