One of the most unique programmes for the empowerment of women entrepreneurs, All-India Road Show on Women’s Economic Empowerment through Entrepreneurship (AIRSWEEE), launched by TiE, has touched the lives of numerous women in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities of India.
In an interview with Live Mint, Seema Chaturvedi, Chairperson, AIRSWEEE 1.0 and 2.0, said that the programme was launched in 2016 when no many were talking about entrepreneurship as a means of empowering women. The programme started with 125 women, who attended workshops and went through mentoring for six months. In the second year, this method was repeated with an eye on multiplying its effect. In the second year, 450 new women were roped in. This was a quantum jump in the membership of the programme. Thus a total of 575 women from nearly 100 cities and 20 states of the country received hands-on mentoring, revealed Chaturvedi.
In the third phase, under the AIRSWEEE Global Fellows initiative, women entrepreneurs would travel to the US and shadow CEOs of aligned global companies for 10 days, thereby enriching their hands-on experience.
The AIRSWEEE programme has not only benefited the women who have received direct mentorship, but it has also had a positive indirect effect on nearly 2,500 women-centric businesses through the pay-it-forward ethos of the AIRSWEEE members.
Chaturvedi said that the programme concentrated on Tier 2 and 3 cities because 70-75% of India’s population lives there. It was also felt that since women generally invest 80-85% of what they earn in the community, investing in women would be a worthwhile means of economic development.
The biggest takeaway of the programme, according to Chaturvedi, is that it is a sustainable way to grow women entrepreneurs. It builds a community of women entrepreneurs who can connect and support each other in their darkest hours.
AIRSWEE is funded by the US state department for three consecutive years and has total funding of close to $315 million at present.