Updated: December 30, 2022 14:48 IST
Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], December 30 (ANI/PNN): India has the world’s third largest ecosystem in terms of startups, but only 10 percent are led by women. Women constitute only 14 percent of all entrepreneurs in India. The Gujarat University Startup and Entrepreneurship Council (GUSEC) aims to correct the imbalance and has launched the herSTART program to create more women entrepreneurs.
Women-owned businesses have proven to have a positive impact on local economies and can help create more diverse and inclusive workplaces. Measures to bridge the gender gap could add billions to the economy, with a McKinsey Global Institute study estimating that GDP could grow by $0.7 trillion by 2025 just by providing equal opportunities for women. Entrepreneurship among women drives transformation for individuals, economies, as well as society.
Improving education levels, greater access to capital and resources, and a general shift in society’s attitudes toward women in the workforce have allowed many women to pursue their business dreams. The state and central governments have also announced various policies and schemes to facilitate women entrepreneurs.
Through its START initiative, GUSEC and UNICEF are seeding female entrepreneurs at the idea stage by giving them access to its resources and a dedicated acceleration program to help them make a jumpstart.
Launched by the President of India, Smt Droupadi Murmu in October, herSTART consists of dedicated support for women-led startups, along with a digital platform with free resources and training modules for aspiring business woman. The platform also includes a digital publication to spread the success stories of women entrepreneurs.
“Many women are blessed with entrepreneurial skills and also have great ideas, but unfortunately, most do not realize their ideas in the absence of resources and an enabling ecosystem. Through herSTART, we provide resources and such an ecosystem. This is a comprehensive program to give wings to women’s aspirations and help them get their innovative ideas off the ground and become realities,” said Rahul Bhagchandani, CEO of GUSEC.
“Gujarat University’s focus is on evolving as an educational institution that revolves around the need of the times. The University is committed to providing a platform for women entrepreneurs and turning them into job creators, not job seekers . It is with this aim that the herSTART goal was launched,” said Prof Himanshu Pandya, Vice-Chancellor of Gujarat University.
The first two editions of herSTART received overwhelming participation from women. herSTART has sensitized 70 lakh online users and generated resources for over 1.50 lakh interested participants. It has engaged over 15,000 women entrepreneurs, and 2,000+ women-led startups have undergone capacity-building. It has accelerated more than 200 mature-stage startups led by women and 150+ such startups are actively scaling their efforts.
Realizing that a complete global economic recovery relies on a more sustainable and inclusive growth that empowers women entrepreneurs and supports women-owned businesses, herSTART is now inviting women innovators to use support to startups through dedicated incubator and accelerator programs.
herSTART supports some very innovative startups led by women. One such startup is ECOrrect, which is working on developing bioplastic, a biodegradable plastic made from plant parts. Bioplastics retain the properties of conventional plastics but have the potential to be a true replacement for synthetic plastics. From just a prototype, GUSEC funding allowed the startup to give the final shape to the bioplastic.
Another such startup is Crooze, founded by Nikita Lalwani. Crooze is a digital platform dedicated to the growth of cycling in cities to make them more livable, healthier, happier and more efficient in terms of traffic as well as pollution. Crooze was part of its START program in 2019 and then the social entrepreneurship Bootcamp in 2020 before being incubated at GUSEC.
“I received great support. The incubation program helped facilitate things in the early stages from referrals to mentors to a safe place to learn and grow,” says Nikita.
Another exciting startup is Altmat, which converts farm waste of certain types into textile-fit natural and sustainable cost-efficient fibers. Founder Shikha Shah said, “GUSEC allows access to state-of-the-art research labs and fab labs that have further accelerated our R&D and at lower costs, a key to rapid prototyping and agile iteration.”
The fourth such startup is LymbEdge, which is working on an orthopedic device designed to prevent or manage post-knee surgery therapy using a mechanical interface featuring a microcontroller, display, and rechargeable battery unit. The product is set to launch soon.
“I received first place in the herSTART competition. I also won a prize of Rs. 4 lakh and funds to file a patent, which gave a huge boost to my confidence and encouraged me to establish the startup. With the support of IP filing, Student Startup Innovation Policy grant support, and mentorship received through GUSEC, we will launch our product shortly,” said founder Sarika Chitrodiya.
For more information, visit: https://gusec.edu.in/
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