Making Women Saksham, the Tata Way

Tata Trusts has come together with Cisco to implement Program Saksham aimed to create 3,500 rural women entrepreneurs in sixteen districts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The program started in 23 villages of Bahraich district of UP where 60 women were trained and nano retail enterprises like bangle shop, kirana stores and fast food stores were identified for set up. Currently training is underway simultaneously in 5 districts of Uttar Pradesh and 10 districts of Bihar. Many of the potential women entrepreneurs have been imparted digital literacy skills through the Internet Saathi program that was successfully implemented earlier in these districts.

Project Saksham will identify potential women entrepreneurs and will train them on the basics of setting up and running businesses. The training also includes modules on guiding women in identifying the business ideas that they would want to pursue. What this basically implies is that the program addresses two key levers for entrepreneurship. The first is the access to opportunity and second is the access to basic entrepreneurial skills. The ultimate aim obviously is to take the women closer to their objective of financial self-sufficiency.

As part of the training the identified women will undergo 5 days of training that includes on-ground market research and consolidation of business ideas through a need gap analysis and building core business skills. The women are then guided through to set-up their enterprises. Initial capital support is also given to the identified entrepreneurs to support them in meeting the expenses like awareness building of the nano enterprise. Foundation for Rural Entrepreneurship Development (FREND), an entity set up with the support of Tata Trusts with a vision to create income opportunity for 100,000 women by 2022, will help in the implementation of the program.

Said Raman Kalyanakrishnan, head- strategy at Tata Trusts,“It is heartening to see that the number of women entrepreneurs is steadily increasing. However, there is still a huge gap that needs to be bridged in order to boost women entrepreneurship in the country. There is a strong economic case for ensuring that this journey continues, and hence the reason for our collaboration with Cisco – to encourage, support and promote women entrepreneurs.”

“Digital, combined with entrepreneurial skills, can be a game-changer in helping India become a $5T economy.  Digital skills not only Impact the economic and social development of the villages, but also improves the quality of life and contributes to the nation’s economy” added Harish Krishnan, managing director, public affairs and strategic engagements, Cisco India and SAARC.

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