Zone Startups India launches accelerator program to “empoWer” women entrepreneurs

Zone Startups India is a leading technology startup acceleretor based in Mumbai. Set up as an international footprint of the Toronto-based Ryerson University and the BSE Institute at the Bombay Stock Exchange; Zone Startups India is supported by Department of Science & Technology, Government of India.

Over its 26 months operations, Zone Startups India has accelerated the growth of 72 startups; 11 being co-founded by women entrepreneurs. 3 of these Women entrepreneurs have gone onto raise in excess of INR 30 Crores.

Zone Startups India is now launching a new 6-week accelerator program – “empoWer”, for supporting Women Entrepreneurs, building technology ventures.

For the “empoWer” initiative, ZoneStartups India has been able to bring together strong partners in Department of Science and Technology, GIZ, Vodafone India, Google, Nishith Desai Associates, She The People TV, and SheEO – a Toronto-based women entrepreneur support organization.

The “empoWer” initiative will be launched with roadshows across Mumbai, Bangalore and NCR, for attracting applications. 15 Women Entrepreneurs (or co-founders) will be shortlisted for the 6-week bespoke program. The program participants will get access to mentoring, workshops, case studies of successful women led startups, industry connect, peer network, investor connect and business development opportunities.

Says, Ajay Ramasubramaniam – Director, Zone Startups India, “Through our accelerator program, and various bootcamps, workshops, demo days hosted by us we realized the need for having a focused program that works with women entrepreneurs in tech businesses. The problems faced by a lot of women entrepreneurs is unique, and we feel that there is a case for having a dedicated accelerator program for women entrepreneurs – complete with mentoring, workshops, caste studies of successful women led startups, industry connect, peer network and investor connect”.

A key supporter of the empoWer initiative is the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India. Says Dr. Anita Gupta, Associate Head – NSTEDB, “As a part of National initiatives on Start up India and Stand up India, Department of Science and Technology, Government of India is supporting ‘”empoWer “, which is designed to equip women entrepreneurs with knowledge, skills and networks required to navigate and scale up their startups.”

Additionally, there are several financial and non-financial opportunities that the participants will gain from the demo day, at the end of the program.Zone Startups India will continue to support these women entrepreneurs for upto a year post-program, thereby adding ongoing value.

Sarin Thampy, Vice President – Strategy & Innovation, Vodafone, a sponsor partner of the “empoWer” initiative states ““Gender Diversity, Start-ups, Digital Technologies, Customer Experience and Empowering Employees – are the key topics discussed in Vodafone India. Working with empoWer start-ups, gives Vodafone India a unique opportunity to support women entrepreneurship and be part of the start-up inception journey”.

Mr. Wolfgang Leidig, Programme Director – Private SectorDevelopment, GIZ says that “In addition to empowering 15 selected women entrepreneurs; we believe that “empoWer – Accelerating Women Entrepreneurship” would demonstrate a successful replicable model of harnessing the potential of innovative women enterprises. GIZ is happy to be associated with empoWer and support these innovative women business leaders to establish critical research and technology linkages and convert their ideas into action ; complementing our efforts in the field of “Promotion of Innovation and Women Entrepreneurship”.

Overall, the program is supported by strong partners and Zone Startups India firmly believes that they will be able to identify some solid women entrepreneurs build great, fundable businesses. The success of this program will see a regular rollout of similar high-impact, short term accelerator programs.

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