How Communities Can Empower Women Entrepreneurs To Rise Above Limitations

Posted: September 14, 2017

While they continue to face challenges, the rise of new communities to empower women entrepreneurs and help them support each other is very welcome news.

“Fight for your dreams and your dreams will fight for you.” ~Paulo Coelho.

Do you have the courage to follow your dreams? Are your goals bigger than your fears? Do you believe in yourself and your ability to achieve whatever you set your heart on? 

Women empowerment is a subject close to my heart. It’s always inspiring to see women pursue their dreams with grit and find glory against all odds. Every time I hear success stories of women achievers, it fills me with a renewed sense of motivation. I had one such opportunity recently to listen to successful women across various fields speak at the launch of EmpoWer 2017 by Zone Startups India.

What is empoWer?

Zone Startups India is an international startup accelerator created as a collaboration between the BSE Institute (a subsidiary of the Bombay Stock Exchange), Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone (incubator), Ryerson Futures Inc and Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Canada.

The event saw them launch their second cohort of ‘EmpoWer’, India’s first accelerator program for women entrepreneurs building tech ventures in India. Based on their extensive research, Zone Startups India had identified several gaps witnessed by women entrepreneurs like limited financial resources, lack of training in technology and finance, risk-averse mindset, lack of networking skills, amongst other needs. ‘EmpoWer’ program aims to fill these gaps with dynamic activities that cover workshops, industry relevant case studies, mentoring sessions, peer networking and investor connect opportunities.

Applications for empoWer 2017 are now open, and if you are interested, check out the eligibility criteria here and then apply.

At the event, the dialogue revolved around what it takes to be an entrepreneur, the many trials a woman faces and finding solutions along the way. There were quite a few takeaways for me, what with so many accomplished women speaking their hearts out. However, what stood out amidst all discussions were two key issues, which on giving a deeper thought are inter-connected in many ways. I would like to touch upon these two aspects here – one, the challenges a woman professional faces and two, the role of communities to help her grow.

Women entrepreneurs do face challenges

Being a woman professional or woman entrepreneur doesn’t come easy, especially in India given it’s deeply entrenched patriarchal ideologies. As one of the speakers rightly pointed out, the first hurdle a woman has to overcome is getting out of the house; of getting out of her comfort zone and her own limiting beliefs to step out into the world. Once she musters the courage to embark on her professional journey, she has to go that extra mile to prove her self at every stride on the way. For the questions she is asked remain different than those thrown at her male counterparts. From interrogating her focus at work to her ability to minimize risk to her commitment amidst domestic responsibilities and childcare, she is compelled to be answerable at every given time.

“As you become more successful, the gender barrier disappears. The credibility challenges you have during your growing up years starts disappearing when you demonstrate success.” ~Kiran Mazumdar Shaw

Sometimes, women come out stronger facing hardships and challenges. While sometimes, they crumble under pressure. Women have a tendency to get easily sucked into self-doubt and often tend to give up easily. They are satisfied retorting to being the care-takers at home. Continuous mentoring then becomes imperative to boost their self-esteem and confidence. That’s where a healthy and productive community can play an important role.

The power of Communities 

A community is defined as a group of people that share similar interests and attitudes. In the present digital age, communities can be purely online or online and offline as well. The phenomenon of coming together and working for a common agenda has proven to give stupendous results. When passion binds individuals together, the pace of learning and growing increases multifold. Being a part of community gives a sense of belonging. It provides solace to know that you are in this together amidst like-minded individuals, supporting each other in the highs and lows.

“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress and working together is success.” ~Henry Ford

Women on a career break or seeking new avenues can particularly leverage the benefits offered by a community. Participating at one’s convenience, networking and staying updated with industry trends prevents them from professional stagnation. Communities also infuse curious minds with fresh ideas and propel them into thinking out of the box. Collaborating with mentors and peer in a productive culture helps them become better versions of themselves. And when they ascertain that there is so much more available to grow beyond their own diminished selves, their perspective changes considerably. This was the focus of an interesting panel discussion.

role-of-communities

L to R: Chetna Sinha, President, Mann Deshi Foundation, Naiyya Saggi, Founder, Baby Chakra, Namrata Kohli, Strategic Platform Partnerships, Facebook and Aparna Vedapuri Singh, Founder & CEO, Women’s Web

Nothing fuels our life with as much purpose when we discover who we are, who we can become and ways to get there!

Images via Zone Startups

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Vaishali Gandhi calls herself a constant seeker and explorer. Curious about the ways of the

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