Agartala/Kolkata, Nov 20, 2020, IANS
BY SUJIT CHAKRABORTY
The US Consulate General in Kolkata under the White House-led "Academy for Women Entrepreneurs" (AWE) project brings together 150 women entrepreneurs and early-stage business owners from five northeastern states of India and to boost their startups.
In partnership with Shillong-based think tank "Asian Confluence", US Consulate Kolkata's acting Consul General Monica Shie launched the AWE project on Friday involving 150 women entrepreneurs of Nagaland, Meghalaya, Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, who will be mentored and supported through this two-year long project.
Participating in a virtual discussion, Shie said : "I am so proud that we are joined by 150 change makers - the first cohort of India's maiden AWE programme. We have launched the application announcement on September 1 and are overwhelmed with the record number of applications received, some from really remote corners of northeast India.
This global programme would help the women to explore not just the fundamentals of business and capital, but build a better future for families, communities, and their states."
Marie Royce, Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), US Department of State delivering special remarks through a video message said : "Expanding US Consulate General Kolkata's work to strengthen the entrepreneurship ecosystem in east and northeast India, with a particular emphasis on empowering women."
Asian Confluence's Executive Director Sabyasachi Dutta said that gender equitable entrepreneurship development is the need of the hour in realising the true potential of the northeastern region.
"Endowed with immense natural and human resources, the region is also one of India's gateways to South East and East Asia, leveraging on which holds enormous promise of growth.
We look forward to working with them, empowering them with the tools and knowledge that AWE offers and sharing their journey ahead in realizing their dream," Dutta said.
North Eastern Council (NEC) Secretary K. Moses Chalai in his remarks mentioned that given the present economic slowdown that we face across the world due to the pandemic, it is of utmost importance that we find ways to bounce back with effective policies, projects and initiatives to help us get back on a reasonably strong and dependable growth path.
"The AWE's India programme, with its focus on promoting entrepreneurial ideas of women in this region, will contribute effectively towards this goal. We will be keenly interested to know how this initiative progresses and explore ways to connect our programs and initiatives that the AWE project aligns with," said the Secretary of the NEC, a regional planning body.
Chairman and Managing Director of North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Ltd (NEDFi) B. Paul Muktieh observed that the AWE initiative is extremely aligned with NEDFi's core mandate and activities.
Industry body FICCI Ladies Organization's (FLO) National President and U.S. State Department alumna Jahnabi Phookan said that they are doing to boost women's entrepreneurship in northeast India in collaboration with the local governments.
AWE is supporting the selected cohort of prospective women entrepreneurs and early-stage business owners by providing US-style online education with guided facilitation from US State Department alumni, local women business leaders, and other partners.
Participants represent a diverse mix of business ideas in sectors that include agri-tech, education, tourism, health, and waste management among others.
The women entrepreneurs from the northeast are joining the AWE global network that will support participants' access to peer-to-peer mentorship, business partners, and scaling opportunities with businesses in the region and in the United States.
The AWE is designed to empower women worldwide to fulfill their economic potential and create conditions for increased stability, security, and prosperity for all.
Over the next two years, the project will create a sustainable network of women entrepreneurs in five states of northeast India, including Assam, whose location on India's easternmost border provides opportunities to strengthen ties with the Indo-Pacific corridor countries.
(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)