India is an agrarian economy, with about 54.6 percent of the workforce engaged in agricultural and allied sector activities (Source: NITI Aayog, Government of India). Of the workers on Indian farms, 75% are women (Source: Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation). Despite their large presence and contribution, women have less access to inputs (i.e., seeds, fertilizer, labor, finance), and critical services like training and insurance, when compared to their male counterparts.
The Government of India launched several flagship schemes and programs, (i.e., Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Program (PMEGP), National Livelihoods Mission, Prime Minister Matru Vandana Yojana), to make women farmers better equipped to adapt and manage their livelihoods. Women’s empowerment through equal access to resources, technology, education, health care, ownership rights, and skill development could boost agricultural output and contribute to the creation of a more empowered nation. With proper support, rural women can drive toward excellence.
The WE4F South and Southeast Asia Regional Innovation Hub (S/SEA RIH) and Women on Wings have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to identify and support India-based WE4F-supported businesses in creating an impact in the water-energy-food nexus by focusing on women-led and women-centric business models. The goal of this technical assistance support will be to increase livelihood opportunities for rural women by enabling these innovations to scale commercially. Both parties firmly believe there is a strong need to focus on the collaborative efforts required across businesses for holistic development.
On signing the MoU, Radtasiri Wachirapunyanont, WE4F S/SEA RIH Manager, said, “I am excited to take the mission of WE4F forward by scaling businesses, providing technical assistance to our women-centric innovators across their value chain, and building long-term partnerships.”
Supriya Kapoor, Director-Social Enterprise Consulting, Women on Wings, said, “WE4F and Women on Wings share a common vision of supporting social enterprises to gain the knowledge, skills and tools for accelerating the growth of their businesses. This collaboration will provide more balanced access to opportunities that strengthen women’s participation across the WE4F spectrum.”
The S/SEA RIH technical assistance team will be composed of experts who have strongly advocated and supported the growth of small businesses, particularly those focused on women. This partnership will provide extended support to the WE4F innovators based on a needs assessment done by Women on Wings; and the ongoing support and technical assistance will be provided by WE4F for its effective implementation. This will cover a wide range of services – business development, partnerships, marketing, fundraising, and many more.