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The initiative ‘Pragati’ by Meta and The/Nudge Institute is done to accelerate action in women’s entrepreneurship

29th February 2024: To celebrate women’s entrepreneurship and the ‘Pragati’ cohort of women-led startups, was held today at the Jio World Convention Center, Mumbai. ‘Pragati’ is a flagship initiative by META and The/Nudge Institute to provide support towards incubating and accelerating early-stage women-led nonprofits. The day-long event saw over 120 stakeholders from the start-up ecosystem, including leaders across corporates, nonprofits, social enterprises, and policy experts, coming together to explore pathways to enhance and accelerate women-led economic development through entrepreneurship, enabling them to scale by leveraging technology and other support infrastructure.

The ‘Pragati’ program, launched in 2021 by The/Nudge Institute and supported by META, has fueled the growth of 29 women-led social enterprises, solving for employment, nano and micro-entrepreneurship, and adoption of technology at the last mile. Under the broader umbrella of livelihoods, the startups work towards more agency for women and youth, empowerment of artisans, education for the underserved, policy advocacy, healthcare access, etc. Pragati’s cohorts include organizations such as Mitti Cafe, Sajhe Sapne, and Tech4Good Community, among others. Under the program, participating organizations get real-time access to funds, donors, government and policy experts, legal advisors, technology and knowledge partners, and the opportunity to be mentored by an esteemed group of leaders from markets, civil society, and policy.

Highlighting the importance of this collaboration with The/Nudge Institute, Sandhya Devanathan, Vice President and Managing Director, Meta in India said, “Meta is committed to accelerating India’s social and digital transformation. Towards this, an important enabler would be helping women entrepreneurs succeed through greater access to digital platforms, funds, and mentorship. With the Pragati initiative in partnership with The/Nudge Institute, we hope to empower more women to set up and grow their businesses and contribute to making the country economically and socially stronger.”

The/Nudge Institute’s goal to build resilient livelihoods for all, in collaboration with governments, markets, and civil society, and ending poverty in our lifetime, is further reflected through ‘Pragati’. Elaborating on the importance of supporting women entrepreneurs, Atul Satija, Founder and CEO, of The/Nudge Institute, said, “Building agency of women and empowering them through sustainable livelihoods is critical for poverty alleviation in India. With the able and continued support of Meta, through the Pragati initiative, we want to enable equitable economic development for women through ease of access to technology and capital. The success of our women founders continues to highlight the need for many more initiatives like Pragati that will inspire other women to embrace entrepreneurship, catalyzing social development.”

Speaking at the event, FreshMenu Founder, Rashmi Daga, shared, “Women are ready to multi-task and work hard. They should be trusted with more investments, and platforms like this one can help train and prepare them. One key takeaway from this event was that the ecosystem to support women exists, and is growing. My message to women entrepreneurs is that you just need to take one step forward. We are here. “

Across the day, the convening amplified the need to reimagine and repurpose the building blocks essential for increasing women’s adoption of entrepreneurship as well as support systems necessary to enable existing women entrepreneurs to scale. Panels of leaders discussed topics like ‘leveraging technology to scale nano and micro women-led enterprises’, ‘overcoming and dismantling barriers to enable women to embrace entrepreneurial journeys’, and ‘the future and potential of community-led entrepreneurship’. 

These witnessed the likes of Sandeep Murthy, Partner of Lightbox; Rashmi Daga, Founder of FreshMenu; Chetna Gala Sinha, Founder of Mann Deshi Bank; Prashant Venkatesh, Marketing Director, Brand Unilever and Sustainability; Ajaita Shah, Founder of Frontier Markets; Manisha Gupta, Founder of Start Up! and Dr. Vanita Sharma, Strategic Alliances at Reliance Foundation amongst others, who shared their thoughts on women empowerment initiatives especially led by women.

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