Entrepreneurs just stepping into the world of business often find it a mind-boggling world, with its own jargon, priorities and perspectives, and the presence of a mentor and a support system in that initial phase can often mean the difference between success and failure.
But, for women entrepreneurs from smaller towns, with little chance for exposure to global business ecosystems, finding quality mentorship and a support system can be a difficult task. It is to help entrepreneurs like this that TiE Global and the United States Embassy to India have launched the All India Roadshow on Women’s Economic Empowerment through Entrepreneurship, or AIRSWEEE for short. Since its launch in 2016, the program has provided capacity building and mentoring to 575 women in nearly 100 cities across India.
The four-month entrepreneurship mentoring program offers 30 women entrepreneurs the experience of shadowing matched domain leaders for over 100 hours each. “Being able to shadow a mentor who works in our area of business was a huge help in scaling up our operations and managing larger events,” noted Deepthi Kandregula, managing director of Global Connect, which runs the MSkools platform and offers training and consultancy services for those aspiring to study abroad.
Other participants agree. "My venture is from Coimbatore and you do not get much exposure when you are a start-up from a smaller city. The AIRSWEEE platform helped expand our network and scale our operations upward," pointed out Shrinithi Mohan, Founder, Shiksha Juniors, a playschool chain. "When I
joined AIRSWEEE 2.0 (the previous edition) I had just one centre. Now, we have eight and plan to increase this number to 50 over the next three years," she added.
"Project AIRSWEEE... has resulted in demonstrated, positive impact, not only on the women mentored directly through the program, but also on over 2,500 women businesses reached indirectly through the pay-it-forward ethos of our AIRSWEEE members, resulting in a massive multiplier effect," pointed out
Seema Chaturvedi, Chairperson of Project AIRSWEEE, adding that the initiative has "just begun".
This year's AIRSWEEE culminated with a three-day Women Entrepreneurs Conclave and the announcement of the AIRSWEEE Global Fellowships program.
Under this initiative, three Indian women entrepreneurs have been selected and will travel to the United States to shadow CEOs of global companies in aligned sector for 10 days: Tharakeshwari Palanisamy, Founder & CEO of Ganya Agro Products; Shraddha Khare, co-founder and director, Instant Rasoi OPC; and Zaiba Sarang, founder, iThink Logistics.