Making Strong Women
WE Hub is a one-stop destination and a soft-landing platform for all the women-led startups across the country and promotes Telangana as a business destination for women entrepreneurs in India. Here's knowing about the state-led incubator that's on a mission to raise the stature of women by helping them be independent and financially secure, thereby, ushering in prosperity for the nation as a whole.
WE Hub (Women Entrepreneurs Hub) is India's first and only state-led incubator to promote and foster women entrepreneurship. Conceptualized at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in 2017, with the theme of âWomen First, Prosperity for All', WE Hub was launched on March 8, 2018. The summit sparked a conversation that led to an immediate action of creating a platform that encourages, scales up, and creates a funnel for more women to be a part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. With that vision, WE Hub came into being.
WE Hub promotes and fosters women entrepreneurship by way of incubation. With access to the Government and by building a collaborative ecosystem, it provides access to technical, financial, government, and policy support required to start up, scale up and accelerate with global market access, to all women entrepreneurs in the country. The overall mandate and goal of WE Hub is to eliminate financial, societal, and support barriers for women and help them succeed in their enterprises.
"WE Hub has the ethos of recognizing an entrepreneur for who she is, irrespective of her background. By women entrepreneurs, it refers to all those entrepreneurs who are leading teams and enterprises, where a woman is the biggest stakeholder,"shares Deepthi Ravula, CEO, WE Hub.
"WE Hub is a highly visible platform, and any woman - be it an aspiring entrepreneur or someone who is just starting or looking to scale - can approach us for assistance. WE Hub has various support mechanisms for them, such as ideation assistance, product refinement, business modeling, financial modeling, market assessment, technical mentoring, and technological assistance,"she adds.
Making Significant Impact
The Government of Telangana is known for taking giant strides toward developing the state as a major hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. When IT Minister KT Rama Rao announced the formation of WE Hub in November 2017, little did people understand the vision of this initiative and the impact it would create. In the last five years of its formation, WE Hub has showcased that it was created to not just push the envelope of women entrepreneurship but also change the mindset towards women-led businesses. To this end, WE Hub has created a significant impact.
A Myriad of Challenges
India is at a juncture where there is a tremendous opportunity to enable the increase in the participation of women in entrepreneurship. There are many studies and articles that corroborate this, and WE Hub has the potential to be the catalyst that can support this opportunity.
"However, there are challenges involved in enabling this change. They start from the societal and cultural norms that inhibit women to become key stakeholders in the economic development of the nation to accessing information about financial linkages and policy support. Many women entrepreneurs are not aware of the nature of support that is available for them in the form of schemes and policies,"notes Ravula.
Together We Do More
WE Hub is a business incubator whose role is to bring together different stakeholders to support women entrepreneurs. "This makes a difference to the way women entrepreneurs scale because we are and act as a one-stop platform that provides access and support to all the needs and challenges faced by entrepreneurs,"says Ravula.
Having an entity that validates the ideas of the entrepreneurs and facilitates access to finance, markets, and networks, while supporting with establishing and grounding their enterprises makes a fundamental difference in the sustenance and scalability of the enterprises and women entrepreneurs.
Additionally, to beef up the process, WE Hub has collaborations with multiple organizations including the Women in Data Science (WiDs), Trucaller, Australian High Commission, Western Digital Corporation, and the Re-Sustainability Private Limited. Each has dedicated programs for women.
"Partnerships and networks play a crucial role for women entrepreneurs and WE Hub. They not only offer cross-learning and collaborations but also create an avenue for women entrepreneurs to engage with subject matter experts across the spectrum. Furthermore, partnerships also become advocates for the organization and entrepreneurs and support in their scaling up,"points out Ravula.
Focus On the Big Picture
Ravula has spent over six years dedicated to this cause. After spending 15 years in the US in blue-chip companies, when she got an opportunity to be part of Telangana's vision and growth story, she says she jumped at the offer. "As part of the first stint, I was offered a job to be part of the Electronics Department, Government of Telangana, and that's how everything began,"she shares.
"The Government of Telangana had envisioned several policies to support women entrepreneurs. However, the number of women seeking these policies is really limited, and this is often a major challenge. In addition to this, while there are gender biases that exist what women entrepreneurs need is access to a great deal of handholding support, mentorship, and targeted heterogeneous interventions,"she adds.
WE Hub consciously ensures that women across socio-economic strata, scale, and geography are given an opportunity to be part of the economic workforce through entrepreneurship by way of:
- Entrepreneur Development Programs and developing business acumen;
- Democratizing how entrepreneurship is viewed across urban and rural sectors. At WE Hub we recognize an entrepreneur for who she is, irrespective of her background;
- Creating a one-stop platform, to meet all the needs of entrepreneurs.
"Through such targeted interventions, over the last five years of our inception, we have been able
to incubate 2,194 entrepreneurs, facilitate financial linkages to the tune of INR 85.21 crore, and indirectly enable them to create employment for almost 2,823 people,"she shares.
Streamlining the Process
Telangana is the fastest-growing state in India, recording 14.9 percent Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) growth in 2018-19. The State Industrial policy TS i-PASS is rated among the best in the country. Against this backdrop, Ravula shares how she looks at the growth and blueprint of WE Hub in the future, "Both India and Telangana are at a juncture where the active participation and role of women in the economic workforce is of paramount importance. The Government of Telangana creating the relevant avenues to increase the ease of doing business
goes on to assert that Telangana is becoming a prominent place for investments, thereby creating sound avenues for economic growth,"she notes.
It is to funnel this vision and ensure that the last person in the line also receives an avenue and an
opportunity to be part of the workforce, WE Hub is creating a single window through which women can be supported in scaling their businesses with the right set of interventions and mechanisms in their entrepreneurial journey.
Furthermore, WE Hub is also working within the state to create facilitation centers in districts to
increase the accessibility for women entrepreneurs. Using all the learnings that are coming through, it is also collaborating with other states to enable the creation of similar models for women across the country.
"WE Hub is a highly visible platform, and any woman - be it an aspiring entrepreneur or someone who is just starting or looking to scale - can approach us for assistance. WE Hub has various support mechanisms for them, such as ideation assistance, product refinement, business modeling, financial modeling, market assessment, technical mentoring, and technological assistance."
The Government of Telangana had envisioned several policies to support women entrepreneurs. However, the number of women seeking these policies is really limited. Also, there are gender biases that exist. What women entrepreneurs need is access to a great deal of handholding support, mentorship, and targeted heterogeneous interventions.
WE Hub is also working within the state to create facilitation centers in districts to increase the accessibility for women entrepreneurs. Using all the learnings that are coming through, it is also collaborating with other states to enable the creation of similar models for women across the country.