Internet for empowerment: Women-founded startups fostered by Facebook through SheLeadsTech
The advancement in information and communication technologies represent a revolution emerging as the biggest equaliser in India.
Internet is driving women empowerment and acting as a facilitator to bring and acknowledge their concerns to the forefront.
Social media has been a key differentiator providing a wide platform for women of all age, colour and religion.
SheLeadsTech, Facebook’s leading programme, gives women-founded start-ups access to a year-long programme that provides tools, mentorship and resources to help overcome some of the barriers they face and build a successful business in technology.
Currently, SheLeadsTech has over 170 members across 24 cities and 13 verticals and enables them by providing access to community, tools, mentorship and resources to overcome barriers and succeed in building a business in technology.
Here below are a few profiles of the women startups Facebook has fostered through SheLeadsTech:
Priya Tolanavar, Innate
From road safety for children to eco-friendly products for babies, Priya Tolanavar, an architect in Hubballi, a Tier 2 city in Karnataka realised the need for reusable cloth diapers for her son. She built a brand called Innate, created a new design, filed a patent, and released the products on their website.
Around the time they realised that most of the traffic was from Facebook, she applied for the SheLeadsTech programme. “The offline meetup with successful women entrepreneurs was very empowering. The thoughts shared by Ms Chaitra, Co-founder of Simpl, about asking for help and Ms Arpita, Founder & CEO, Buttercups, about balancing personal and work life was helpful.
"She also spoke about meeting a network of budding women entrepreneurs. “Facebook’s SheLeadsTech community is a group of women entrepreneurs sailing in similar boats. Most of the questions asked in the AMA and otherwise were exactly what I wanted to know. With a group like this, I am hoping to have a lot of questions answered and a lot of peer to peer learning also.”
Sai Gole, The Lean Way
A lot of the founders in the community have also been leveraging technology to help at the grassroot level. Pune-resident Sai Gole, co-founder, The Lean Way, always dreamed of designing technology solutions for unorganised sectors the most underserved communities in India – farmers with their solution LeanAgri.
The IIT-Madras graduate and her team are developing a unique algorithm named LeanNutri that provides a season-long calendar for the farmer. This calendar is personalised after collecting 20+ parameters from the farm. The calendar specifies step by step action to be taken by farmer based on scientific principles in order to increase farm yields and incomes.
Speaking about the challenges that come with being a startup, she says, “Being a startup co-founder looks very glamourous, but founders need to struggle a lot for basic guidance. A lot of things are taken for granted in big companies (I was also part of FMCG industry before starting LeanAgri) but when it comes to setting up everything on own, we have to look around to find resources.
Groups like SheLeadsTech help in connecting with founders, and like-minded people, employees from small to mid-level startups to share their learnings and experiences. This sharing has been very useful over last 1 year of being part of SheLeadsTech.”
“Networking is one of the key things that takes a lot of time and having a chance to network though AMA is wonderful. Since SheLeadsTech informs the forum in advance about the sessions, we can come with targeted queries and doubts.” She says that there are many startup focussed programmes, but few that target women founders.
“Being a part of this always-active community is very inspiring. These are the people who will understand you and come with helping hand when needed. SheLeadsTech is one of such close group you can get assured advice, network and also make good connections.”