NIDHI is an umbrella programme for nurturing ideas and innovations: Prof. Ashutosh Sharma

Women entrepreneurs were introduced to different opportunities offered by the government that they could use to develop their ventures at a mentorship programme at IIT Delhi on 28 May, 2017.

Prof. Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary Department of Science & Technology highlighted the schemes offered by DST to a group of 30 women entrepreneurs and addressed their questions mainly related to ways to link market with technology & products.

The programme was organised on the occasion of first anniversary of Women Entrepreneurship and Empowerment (WEE Foundation). WEE Foundation - India’s First of its kind social national initiative by IIT Delhi and supported by Department of Science of Technology to strengthen women entrepreneurship in the country and promote an ecosystem that enables creation and sustenance of such enterprises by women. 

Prof. Ashutosh Sharma informed that DST has announced last year National Initiative for Developing and Harnessing Innovations (NIDHI) as an umbrella programme for nurturing ideas and innovations which is knowledge-based and technology-driven, into successful startups. Under this the other programmes like Technology Business Incubator (TBI), Centre of Excellence, Seed support system, PRAYAS, Grand challenges, Entrepreneurs-in- Residence (EIR) & Accelerator programme support to enable the ecosystem of startups.

The NIDHI-EIR programme provides Rs. 30,000 per month as fellowship to an aspiring or budding entrepreneur for pursuing a promising technology business idea. While Promoting and Accelerating Young and Aspiring technology entrepreneurs (PRAYAS) will support upto Rs. 10 lakhs to enable translation of an innovative idea to a prototype. 

“Other departments have also different programmes to align with National Programme like Stand-up, Start-up & Make in India to create, nurture and strengthen a pipeline of entrepreneurs,” he added. 

The spectrum of their businesses was broad like textile, sanitary napkin, healthcare, medical tourism, handicraft, online marketing and so on. The women entrepreneurs also discussed their challenges and opportunities. Technology and market support are the main concern of these entrepreneurs.

Prof. Sharma assured that DST with the help of WEE Foundation could display their products on platforms like India International Trade Fair and other platforms which is supported & organised by the department.

WEE Foundation offers a free-of-cost, three months programme for 30 budding/existing women entrepreneurs, conducted during weekends and include interactions with mentors, entrepreneurs and investors as well as visits to incubation centres.

“WEE has mentored more than 100 startups led by women entrepreneurs in a classroom session at IIT Delhi. The programme has imparted training to more than 10000 rural women in smokeless Chulha, affordable sanitary napkins, bee hiving, organic farming, handicrafts and other art forms”, said Aparna Saroagi, chairperson of the WEE Foundation.

“We want to create a culture where women empower herself and help in empowering other women through cooperatives and selfhelp groups which contribute Start up India and Make in India. WEE vision is to positively impact and double the monthly income of one million rural Indian Women by 2018,” she added.