Project Name: Entrepreneurs for a Green Planet
A Brief on Women Entrepreneurs International Trade and Technology Centre (WE ITTC):
WEITTC recognizes that the promotion of a women-inclusive business ecosystem requires a global, multi-pronged, and multi-stakeholder approach. WE ITTC is an organization which facilitateswomen to usetheir own resources and skills to realise their dreams. Women Entrepreneurs International Trade & Technology Centre (WEITTC) is registered as a not for profit company under Sec.8 of the Companies Act, 2013. It is a subsidiary of the Association of Lady Entrepreneurs of India (ALEAP). It is supported by the South Asian Women Development Forum (SAWDF). WEITTC aims to promote women entrepreneurs from the South Asian Region in participating in regional and global trade and in assisting them in accessing latest technologies in diverse fields so as to make their products globally competitive. With all their rich experience, expertise and visionary leadership,ALEAP and SAWDF have come together to support WE ITTC for a successful journey ahead together. WEITTC collaborates with ALEAP and SAWDF for execution strength and for outreach support.
A Brief on Association of Lady Entrepreneurs of India (ALEAP):
Since its establishment in 1993, ALEAP has promoted over 4, 40,000 women entrepreneurs through Entrepreneurship Development Programs (EDPs) and has established exclusive women entrepreneurs’ Green Industrial Parks across India, mostly in Andhra Pradesh,Telangana,Kerala and some States inNorth East India. Approximately 3,00,000 women have got trained in various technical, professional and personal skills under ALEAP’s skill enhancement programs throughout India. It hasalso trained women entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka,Maldives and Nepal. ALEAP is the recognized Implementing Agency for Government of India’s Skill India-Make in India Programs.ALEAP has collaborated with severalGovernment Ministries at the National and State levels to support and implement Government projects.
ALEAP takes up programs in collaboration with more than 30 National and International Agencies like World Bank, GIZ, UNDP,SAWDF,British Council, Goldman Sachs, Governments of South Asian countries,NASSCOM,SIDBI,CII, BEES Network, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT),Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) and others. It also works closely with academic institutions. It has signed MOUs with more than 200 Institutions and Universities
It focuses on promoting green technologies. It was awarded“GreenTec Award- 2018” as the Best Agency in the field of "Entrepreneurs for Tackling Waste”.
A Brief on South Asian Women Development Forum (SAWDF):
SAWDF, a SAARC-recognized body, is a member-based regional body representing national women entrepreneurs’ associations/organizations/institutions working towards the economic issues of women entrepreneurs in the SAARC Region. The forum has been advocating the importance of women’s inclusion and representation in economic decision-making bodies. The main focus of SAWDF is organizing entrepreneurship development programs and it has launched new tools and networks to enhance the entrepreneurial spectrum, and to adopt gender-responsive trade policies that support and promote women entrepreneurship.
The forum has organized several workshops, seminars, annual forum, research and conferences for networking and capacity building, disseminating trade information, and identifying common issues for advocacy in gender-responsive trade policy. SAWDF has long-standing experience and recognition in bringing together a consortium of women-led institutions with extensive work around women’s entrepreneurship through SAWDF Chapters in South Asia.
Overview of Issues relating to Women Empowerment:
South Asia has enjoyed sustained economic growth during the decade prior to the Covid pandemic. It has the potential to recover early from the economic deceleration of recent years due to the Covid 19 pandemicto become,once again,one of the fastest growing regions of the world.However, unfortunately, the success story of the South Asian countries has not been one of women-inclusive development in spite of serious effortsby all thegovernments. A number of enterprises reported as women-owned are not, in fact, controlled or run by women. For financial and administrative reasons,actual ownership of the enterprises by women remains largely on paperwith women having an insignificant role in the actual management of the enterprises. In spite of global efforts and initiatives for development of women entrepreneurs, South Asia’s global standing in terms of gender equality remains very low. SAARC ranking in the Global Gender Gap Report, commissioned by the World Economic Forum, declined in 2020.The region is home to 860 million women, three-fourths of whom live in India. Among the eight regions of the world, South Asia’s gender gap is the second-largest after the MENA region.
Interestingly, South Asian Region’s gender gap with reference to education has been narrowed significantly whereas thehuge gap for economic equality has reduced only marginally. If proper efforts are continued by all Governments and Civil Society, this gap can be reduced in the near future.
South Asian countries belong to the low-income group facing problems of unemployment, poverty, lowsavings rate and low capital accumulation. It is, therefore, advisable to focus on the development of women-owned and -managed medium, small and micro enterprises (MSMES) since such businessesdo not require huge initial capital for investment.
The efforts of Governments alone are not sufficient in generating the required momentum for empowering women.Civil Society needs to play an active role in bringing about this paradigm shift to bring women into the mainstream economic development of the Region. Promoting women entrepreneurship is important as it not only boosts the economy through job creation, but also delivers transformational social and personal outcomes for women. Women are predominantly present in the informal sector where they face lower pay, less job security and lower social protection. It is, therefore, important to bring them into the formal sector to the extent possible.
Aclose analysis of GGI scores of the SAARC nations indicates that the performance of all the South Asian nations is lagging behind other regions under most of the indicators. Within South Asia’s overall informal sector, 44 per cent of those employed in December 2019 were no longer employed by April 2020.India has 13.5–15.7 million women-owned enterprises, representing 20% of all enterprises. While large in absolute numbers, these are overwhelmingly comprised of single person enterprises, which provide direct employment to an estimated 22 to 27 million people. Strengthening and accelerating quantity and quality of women entrepreneurship towards defined benchmarks can create over 30 million women-owned enterprises, which in turn,can generate potentially transformational employment for women.
Transforming Women from Sustainable Consumers to Sustainable Producers:
In this paradigm shift, adding another key parameter is very crucial, that is, “Environment”.Eminent scientists have predictedthat 2022 could set a new record for global emissions.Fortunately, the Business Determined Contribution (BDC) reportsthat, by 2030, most of the business houses will introduce green initiatives to reduce their carbon foot-print. The number of companies signing up to these initiatives could rise from 300 today to over 3500 by 2030.
The interconnection between environmental sustainability and women empowerment is often overlooked in practice. More often than not, women are key managers of natural resources as sustainable consumers. Especially in rural areas, women are more directly dependent on natural resources with responsibility for securing food, water, fuel and shelter for the household. To encourage Green Consumerism, it is necessary that they get required green choices to opt for.Hence it is necessary to encourage Green Production.
To support thisambitious goal, Governments,along withCivil Society,businessenterprises and other concerned stake holders need to work together to create and provide a pro-green ecosystem which allows them to accelerate their efforts to mitigate impacts of Climate Change. These initiatives need to conveyto all a strong message that there will definitely bean enormous demand in future for sustainable products and processes driven by renewable energy, green buildings, low carbon technologies,electric vehicles, pesticide-free food and food processing, environment-friendly packaging, waste management, preserving scarce natural resources and converting waste into wealth among other similar initiatives to create a Green Planet. It is well-recognized that women have a greater “green” attitude in their personal choices and could greatly contribute to the transition to a low-carbon economy. Empowering women to become sustainable producerscan transform them to powerful agents of change. Women have a vital role in environmental management and development. Their committed and assertive involvement is extremely essential in achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
Making women equal partners in economic development along with a focus on environment protection will be the right path to achieve“Building a Future Green Economy with ‘HER’ –Women and Nature”.
A Systems Change Approach:
“Building aFuture Green Economy with ‘HER’ -Women and Nature” is going to be a movement which will revolutionize the way women do business. This should be the focus for future developmental strategies in theSouth Asian Region. India is rated as the third highest contributor to global pollution after China and USA. South Asia was considered to be the most polluted region in the world with Bangladesh, Pakistan and India leading the list of the top ten world’s most polluted countries as per IQ Air’s 2020 data.
A more concerted effort is needed to close the urban-rural divide and ensure that women in rural areas enjoy the same access to education, employment, skills, experts and other facilities and the power of decision-making as their urban counterparts. The hardest challenge will be to change attitudes and attributes, given that most barriers to women’s empowerment are patriarchal traditions that are deeply entrenched in most of the South Asian societies.
The project,“Women for a Green Planet”, will be a collaborative effort ofthe Governments the South Asian Region along with women organizations andwomen’s self-help groupsof the region, to create a huge opportunity to expand and sharpen the role of women in transforming the entrepreneurial landscape, through a comprehensive and coordinated effort of allconcerned stakeholders.
The Three Phases of the Project:1. Green Start 2.Green Turn and 3.Go Green Globally
- Green Start: Expand the funnel to get more women to start sustainable enterprises. Spread theawareness and lay the basic foundation to level the ground for impactful Ecopreneurs. Make young girls and women aware of the possibility of becoming green entrepreneurs and actively encourage them to transform their ideas into business cases – This phase of the project will reach and address every potential young girl and woman to ensure they are conscious about the need for sustainable practices. Every potential educational institute right from higher secondary to Universities, Self-help Groups, women community centers, vocational training colleges,regional and local entrepreneurs,solopreneurs will be addressed through variousmeans of communications like Gram Sabhas, radio programs, social media platforms, webinars, video conferences as well as in-person training sessions. Centralized database and dashboards will keep track and monitor the progress of the out-reach programs. An integrated support system will facilitate more and more women to become Ecopreneurs.
- Green Turn: The second phase of the project will focus on the small women business owners bytraining and mentoring them with required skills in sustainable business whichcan impactlocal and regional environmental concerns.WE ITTC will work closely with the MSME sector to identify the potential small and medium scale business women owners and help them with required skills to become proud ownersof “Green businesses”. MSMEs contribute significantly to the GDP (47 per cent in South Asia)and, therefore, they would be a wonderful base to make the “Green Turn”.
- Go Green Globally: The third phase of the project will try to build, strengthen and scale-up productive womenecopreneursto become high-impact globalecopreneurs. During this phaseall the stakeholders will facilitate the expansion of the existing sustainable businessesowned and managed by women to reach the global arena. They will spread the message of sustainable business practices and try to make an impact on international markets, policies and processes. WEITTC, in collaborationwith the Center for WTC Studies (CWS) and the Indian Institute of ForeignTrade (IIFT), will facilitate the training of green women entrepreneurs of the South Asian Region in trade-related issues so that they can successfully go global.
Key interventions and Initiatives:
Building sustainability-focused businesses:WE ITTCwill ensure that women entrepreneurs are facilitated with strategic approaches to develop a climate-focused vision, including market assessment, product design, financing of projects, management of supply chain manufacturing operations. WE ITTC has identified more than 100 successful business ideas and opportunities. WE ITTC will skill women and expose them to consider the following green business opportunities.
- Recycling and up-cycling projects ofwastes generated in textiles, plastics, electronics
- Waste management projects – kitchen waste, agri-waste
- Renewable energy projects -solar, wind, biogas
- Setting up and managing EV charging stations
- Green and organic cosmetics
- Forest preservation and bio-diversity projects
- Chemical-free cleansers
- Sustainable construction and manufacturing practices
- Environment-friendly, scientificpackaging
- Pharmaceuticalsbased on natural raw materials
Building Green Capability programs:
Customized training sessions which meet the local environment concerns will be designed to nurture sustainable practices and enhance the skill of women ecopreneurs in required professional and technical skills. Build and make accessible to rural and semi-urban women a very broad-based and sector-specific online/blended courses, free content, expert talks, webinars for green capacity building. WE ITTC will be building online portal to facilitate one-on-one coaching sessions on pre-scheduled calendar. WE ITTC has entered into partnerships with skill development organizations like NASSCOM to facilitate and drive the green capability-building for women entrepreneurs.
Below are some of the skill training programs planned to promote “sustainable businesses”:
Environmental protection measures
- Recycling and waste management
- Renewable energy
- Green transportation
- Waste management and water treatment
- Lean business model and Manufacturing methods
- LEED - Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
- Biodegradable products,chemical-free Products
- Digital transformation
- Organic and bio-degradable raw materials
Green clusters: WE ITTC in collaboration with ALEAP and SAWDF will execute projects which are cluster-based like food processing clusters, pottery clusters, agri clusters etc. This approach will provide common sophisticated infrastructure, marketing outreach, logistics which are essential for every individual entrepreneur. Green clusters will encourage green business initiatives with a cooperative approach to reacha greater number of entrepreneurs.
Green technology knowledge and expertiseto support RuralIncubation Centers: ALEAP’s central and rural incubator system (Hub and Spoke) supports rural women with green-technology expertise and infrastructure supports research, patenting andprototyping. Inculcate innovation culture at rural level by leveraging and enabling self-help groups to mobilize Eco- entrepreneurship. Design and Evangelize programs to encourage VillageWomen StartupsEco-Entrepreneurship Program.
Women-only networks and forums: Build a strong women centric community to foster structured connections withwomen investors, suppliers, customers cascadingacross Metros, towns and villages.
Collaborate with Government and public sector organizations: Spearhead governmentfunded green campaigns that highlights efforts of government and public sector schemes and projects supporting Eco-entrepreneurs. WE ITTC will organize trade expositions and conferences with the theme of Nature and Women inclusive products.WE ITTC works closely with ALEAP, SAWDF (South Asian Women Development forum) and BEES network of Sri Lanka for mutual benefit business opportunities. These affiliations open trade opportunities for women
Digitalization: One of the majorlimitations for women entrepreneurs in the MSME sector is digital transformation. Though we found a great acceptance for digitization, they struggle to adopt and practice technology which can ease their effort and reach wider markets through digital marketing and E-Commerce. Their limitations are mostly lack of awareness andskills. WE ITTC has initiated a program in partnership with ALEAPand UNESCAP for digital literacy and digital marketing for women entrepreneurs under the Program “Sikshna,Sadhana and Samrudhi– SSS” to skill them and onboard them on to a dedicated women E-Commerce platform. The SSS project will be extended to the entire South Asian Region for digital enablement and ensure women build their brand and improve the visibility in regional and global markets.
Impact Expectedby 2025:
Game-changing Ecopreneurship: It is a proven fact that micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are playing a vitalrole in employment creation. As they growfaster, they create more jobs. When provided with equal access to skills and resources on environment sustainable businesses,women-owned enterprises will provide stronger economic and environment outcomes. “Building a Future GreenEconomy with‘HER’ - Women and Nature” is going to instill economic confidence in women of the South Asia Region and will ensure agreen economic revolution by generating greater incomes, creating financial freedom, and boosting socio-economicequity and environmental sustainability. The main game-changing outcomes expected from the project are the following:
- Women Ecopreneurs canlead society to adopt more sustainable lifestyles with their socially and environmentally conscious products. As women are main decision-makers or are significant influencers ofbuying decisions, encouraging women in ecopreneurship will surely shift the paradigmtowards a sustainable society. With WEITTC’s3-dimensional approachit is hoped it will create a “Green Wave” influencing more than 100,000women.Women are more likely to hire other women. Women’s employment contributes to immense social returns as women invest most of their income on children’s health and education, benefitting future generations and lead to a true women inclusive economic and environment development. Every year if we could add 30 to 35 percentage to green businesses, a robust green eco- system will get created which will provide economic support to more than 1, 50,000 women entrepreneurs. This, in turn, will lead to employment of more than 1 million women.
- he initiative is expected to have an impact on policy making. It may lead to amendments to ESG policies by making it mandatory for public sector and government organizations and private corporates to buy green products.
- Overall the South Asian countries are expected to move towards a women-inclusive and a sustainable economic development.