“Thank you EmpoWer for giving me a whole new peer group to refer, seek help and opinions for my venture Shubhpuja.com. Being part of Zone Startups has created a mini-ecosystem for me where I can now access all start-up related services and advise by being part of your program. Just like in a university program, you get access to facilities and the network of a university, such as resources, alumni and professionals, I feel that now Shubhpuja has access to all to it. A complete game changer for us”
Saumya Vardhan, Founder – ShubhPuja.com
Launched in 2016, as India’s first tech accelerator for women entrepreneurs, empoWer provides mentorship, industry connects, peer network, investor meets through a 6-week accelerator program followed by a 1-year support program. Over the past 2 years, 35 women entrepreneurs have been a part of 2 cohorts, and 1 bootcamp. Each cohort is a 6-week accelerator program comprising 15 women entrepreneurs selected from a pan-India application pool. We have disbursed INR 1.2 Cr in grants, and post program, a large majority of startups have raised further funding amounting a cumulative of ~ INR 32 Crores. Program partners for the previous edition include Department of Science and Technology (GoI), GIZ, Google, Vodafone, ICICI Bank, Microsoft, Amazon, Capital First, PayU, Government of Quebec and FlexiLoans.
2016 Launch of India’s first accelerator for women in tech – empoWer
A grand launch event took place in Mumbai followed by roadshows in Delhi and Bangalore that saw participation from 250+ women entrepreneurs. The program was launched by Mrs Deena Mehta – Managing Director, Asit C. Mehta Investment Intermediates Ltd & Independent Director – NPCI and Mrs. Meera Sanyal – Chairperson Urban development Committee, Indian Merchants’ Chamber, Ex- CEO and Chairperson of RBS India along with partner representatives. At the end of the program on the ‘Demo Day’, the graduated cohort of 15 entrepreneurs presented their refined businesses in front of a nearly 200-strong stakeholders community that included investors, corporate leaders, subject matter experts and others. This led to 8 select winners gaining financial support of INR 70 Lakhs from the program. The winners were felicitated by Ms. Rashmi Bansal, entrepreneur and a youth expert, Ms. Paula Mariwala, Executive Director of SeedFund, Mr. Vikas Agnihotri, Director of Sales at Google and Ms. Vicki Saunders, Founder, SheEO – an international women’s support organization.
1 Week Bootcamp for early stage women entrepreneurs
The 1 week bootcamp was designed to help the participants rethink about various aspects of running a business and provide them a fresh from seasoned and experienced mentors on it. The program focused on making interactions happen on individual challenges faced by the entrepreneurs and thus most of the mentoring was one on one. The bootcamp was linked to the NASSCOM 10,000 Startups Change Makers Summit 2016 powered by Google focused on impacting women led startups. empoWer partnered with them to offer this specially designed bootcamp to top 4 women led startups part of the summit. The summit received 250 applications out of which 80 application were shortlisted by empoWer team for a interview round on the day of the event. Based on the interviews, the top 4 startups were selected and announced at the event.
Hosting Bardish Chagger, Canada’s Minister for Small Business and Tourism : Women Leaders: Innovating, Inspiring and Building Nations
On the occasion of Women’s Day, we hosted a panel discussion on one of the most prevailing topic ‘Women Leaders: Innovating, Inspiring and Building Nations’ bringing women leaders together to discuss overcoming and outshining professional hurdles faced by women.
The panel was chaired by Hon. (Ms.) Bardish Chagger, Canada’s Minister for Small Business and Tourism and included Shinjini Kumar -CEO PayTM Bank, Kashmira Mewawala – Head Business Development and Chief Ethics Counselor Tata Capital, Monica Jasuja- Head of Digital Payments at MasterCard, Rashmi Bansal – Author, Smita Bhagat – Head-Branch Banking and e-Commerce HDFC Bank, Shweta Shalini – Spokesperson of BJP Maharashtra, Chandni Jafri – CEO of Mumbai Angel, Prerana Langa – CEO Yes Foundation, Lakshmi Potluri – Angel Investor, Ritu Soni-Srivastava – Co-Founder ObiNo and was moderated by Harshada Sawant, Senior Associate Editor CNBC TV18.
2017 Edition of empoWer – India’s first accelerator for women in tech
empoWer 2017 was launched on September 1, 2017 as a part of full-day conference presided by 25+ senior women leaders from the industry and 200+ women entrepreneurs in the audience. The program was launched by Avani Davda, Managing Director – Godrej Natures Basket, Naiyya Saggi, Founder – BabyChakra, Ranganath Thota, Founder – Fuel-A- Dream and Priya Naik, Founder & CEO – Samhita Social Ventures. Following the Mumbai launch, we conducted similar events in 5 more cities. 15 women entrepreneurs from the cohort made their pitch on the ‘Demo Day’ in front of investors, corporate leaders, subject matter experts and others. The winners were felicitated by Mark D’Souza, India Business Manager & Commercial Software Engineering – Microsoft, Dr. Anita Gupta, Associate Director – NSTDEB, DST- Dominic Marcotte, Consul et directeur – Bureau du Québec à Mumbai.
Working Lunch with Ms. Christine St- Pierre, Minister of International
Relations and La Francophonie, Govt. of Quebec discussing about the woman entrepreneurs in India, their career paths, their current entrepreneurial ventures, the existence of networks of women leaders, mentorships in India, challenges in the male dominated business world, opportunities, the future of these start-ups.
Roundtable Discussion with Hon. Navdeep Bains, Canada’s Minster of Innovation, Science & Economic Development
The objective of the roundtable is to discuss and deliberate the landscape of women entrepreneurs – support ecosystem, funding, opportunities and challenges.
Hosting Ms. Manisha Singh, Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs, U.S. Department of State: Challenges and Opportunities faced by Women in the Indian and US ecosystem
We hosted a rountable discussion on the topic ‘Challenges and Opportunities faced by Women in the Indian and US ecosystem’ The panel was chaired by Ms. Manisha Singh, Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs, U.S. Department of State and included Zankhana Kaur-Director and Co-founder of Ybiz Ventures Private Limited. Former Head, TiE Stree Shakti program, Poyni Bhatt- Founding team member of the Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE) at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay, a technology incubator, Karon Shaiva- Chief Impact Officer and Managing Director, Idobro Impact Solutions, a social enterprise that aims to help women entrepreneurs build their capacity to access markets, strengthen network and deliver solutions, Anuradha Bhavnani- Reginal Manager-India,Shell Foundation and was moderated by Sweta Tiwari- Associate Director, Zone Startups India.
2018 Edition of empoWer- India’s first tech accelerator for women in tech.
empoWer 2018 Edition launched on September 28, through a soft launch followed by roadshows in 4 major cities. 3rd Edition supported 30 women entrepreneurs building scalable ventures using technology for business or technology for social good. A grand cohort announcement took place on 22nd November at International Convention Hall, BSE a full day event presided by 10+ senior leaders from industry and Government and 150+ women entrepreneurs in the audience. The final cohort of 30 women entrepreneurs were felicitated by Ms. Devika Shah, MD & CEO – ICCL, Isabelle Dessureault , International Mentor and Change Maker / Former SVP Chief Strategy Officer, Dominic Marcotte, Consul et directeur – Bureau du Québec à Mumbai, Ritu Srivastava, Founder – Roundglass Obino and Hina Shah, Director– ICECD. At the end of the 4month accelerator program on the ‘Demo Day’, the graduated cohort of 30 entrepreneurs presented their refined businesses in front of a nearly 200-strong stakeholders community that included investors, corporate leaders, subject matter experts, and others ecosystem enablers. This led to 18 winners for equity-free seed support of INR 90 Lakhs, 7 winners got fully paid Market Access Trip to Quebec and Access to Amazon Launchpad from the program. The winners were felicitated by Apurva Purohit, President, Jagran Prakashan Ltd, Ms. Rashmi Bansal, entrepreneur and a youth expert, Deepali Naair, Director – Marketing, India & South Asia, IBM, Anjalli Ravi Kumar, Social Mission Director, Unilever.
Our Supporting Partners were