The Australian Corporate Initiative Empowering India’s Women Entrepreneurs
An Australian-first program is helping a new wave of Indian women break through the cultural and business glass ceiling.
In what is the first Australian initiative of its kind, corporate advisory firm - CEO Strategic has launched a specialist program to support some of India’s most innovative women entrepreneurs raise investment capital directly from international investors. The Project shines a light on some of the best innovators from India where, although the number of women entrepreneurs is on the rise, support of female entrepreneurship is still relatively low.
The program, known as The Virangana Project, (named after a famous warrior woman in Indian history) was conceived by Indian human rights lawyer and women’s advocate Ms. Shalini Chauhan. Now CEO of the Project, Ms Chauhan had become frustrated by the difficulties women in India face when it came to raising capital investment for their start-up ideas saying, “This landscape is still extremely tough terrain for women. In addition to historical cultural issues in India’s still mainly male-dominated start-up scene, women entrepreneurs remain underrepresented in the economy and still face certain biases from potential investors when all that should matter is the idea. Material issues such as - is it solid, innovative, scalable, will it make revenue or change lives - can often be overlooked when they see a woman is involved.”
The Project aims to find 12 of India’s Most Innovative women, pair them with high-profile mentors, and then fly them to Australia in October of this year for a series of dedicated India-themed Pitch Fests, culminating with an appearance at Sydney’s prestigious Spark Festival, where The Virangana Project is promising Sydney’s first ever ‘Bollywood-themed’ pitch event. The Project is sector agnostic, encouraging Indian women from all industry sectors to apply, especially those with a high-tech, FinTech, or social enterprise focus.
Continued Ms Chauhan, “This collaboration with Australian business will equip these innovative women with new skills and direction and give them the exposure they need. They play a central role in helping drive the Indian economy forward and The Virangana Project is now harnessing the power of technology to drive social change for women in India.”
Mr. Tony McAuslan, Communications Director for The Virangana Project said, “There are so many good reasons why Australian investors should be looking to India, and we’ve been impressed with the quality of applicants to date. Australian investors are all currently fishing for deals in the same small 24 million-person pond, but by facilitating access to Indian Start-Ups, we are laying the foundation for a much stronger investment environment. “
He added that “A $100K investment in an Indian Start-Up goes a lot further than the same amount in an Australian one. It gives you access to an incredible pool of well-educated talent, and if your Start-Up kicks a goal in India, you have a consumer base greater than 1.2 Billion and a well-off middle class ten times the size of the entire Australian population.”
While still in its early launch phase, The Virangana Project is now inspiring young women across India to use their ambition and innovation to help in India’s drive to become an economic powerhouse in the 21st Century. What drives The Virangana Project is the belief that investment in business, especially start-ups, needs be gender agnostic for biases to cease and the world to change.
Ms Chauhan added that “For women to be truly independent, they need to be financially independent, and we see the Start-Up economy as one of the most dynamic ways to foster female independence. In recent times, some of India’s most successful businesses have been founded by women, and now through this project, Australian investors are being given a clear path to participating in India’s massive consumer market.”
The Virangana Project will hold its official media launch on 13th June at the corporate of Ferrier Hodgson at Sydney’s Barangaroo.
Shalini Chouhan, CEO and Co-Founder of The Virangana Project, will be available for a limited number of interviews in Sydney on the 12th & 13th June. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.