The world is changing. We must embrace this change whenever it happens as change is the only constant. One of the positive changes over the turn of the century is the rise of women across all sectors of society. This change has also been seen in the Micro-entrepreneurship sector. Women empowerment is necessary for the development of society and its progress forward.
India ranks 112 out of 153 countries in the 2020 Gender Gap Index, which can be attributed to lower economic participation and a lack of women empowerment. While India has improved from previous years, this is not enough as there is still a scarcity of economic opportunities for women. According to the Fourth MSME Census 2006-2007, 13.72 percent of MSMEs in India are owned by women. A similar percentage of MSMEs are managed by women.
The Deshpande Foundation is no stranger to women empowerment and its contribution to economic and social development. Partnering with the United Nations Development Program and the IKEA Foundation, the Biz Sakhi program was established with the aim of empowering more women micro-entrepreneurs in the MSME sector. This program aims to create a community of women micro-entrepreneurs who will train and mentor other women micro-entrepreneurs as part of economic development. Deshpande Foundation aims to provide entrepreneurship development training to 3000 micro-entrepreneurs and to incubate 1000 sustainable women micro-entrepreneurs through the Biz Sakhi Program.
The roles of the Biz Sakhis are to empower other women in society by introducing, assisting, and mentoring them in their micro-enterprise. By working on a peer basis, this allows women in society to be inspired and motivated by their companion Biz Sakhis in taking up a business. This model is extremely simple, yet extremely effective as it allows micro-entrepreneurs to thrive in a supportive environment. This program helps society progress as women empowerment is necessary for the betterment of society, in general.