In a big boost to expedite the growth of rural women entrepreneurs, Mastercard in collaboration with women's cooperative bank - Mann Deshi Foundation, announced the expansion of the Chamber of Commerce for Rural Women. The expansion aims to empower more than 20,000 women-led small businesses to tap into digital networks for sourcing and selling. The initiative is focused on addressing the finance-related issues faced by rural women and keeping up with the evolving market dynamics, such as consumer preference to pay digitally. According to a recent statement, the Chamber of Commerce for Rural Women will add a new chapter in Kolhapur, Maharashtra.
The program will introduce a leadership academy for women entrepreneurs to conduct training on advocacy and provide mentorship. The expansion of the Chamber of Commerce for Rural Women will increase the members' access to emerging digital technology, legal advisory services, and marketing clinics. The expansion will also strengthen sales networks among women entrepreneurs and help in launching a pathway for them to become agents of change.
“Our collaboration with the Mann Deshi Foundation to expand the Chamber of Commerce for Rural Women is part of our ongoing commitment to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy. Through innovative and trusted partnerships, we are empowering women entrepreneurs with the digital skills and resources necessary to operate more efficient and productive businesses,'' said Shamina Singh, founder and President of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth.
The Chamber of Commerce for Rural Women already has chapters in Pune, Chiplun, and Satara in Maharashtra through which as many as 10,000 women have benefitted since 2018. The expansion will primarily focus on the following:
- Leverage technology to facilitate business operations and to scale skills training. This will introduce women business owners to low-cost technology for digital bookkeeping, virtual networking, and online classes
- Provide hands-on demo workshops to enable small business owners to test and learn about time-saving machines, such as dal mills, solar dryers, packaging machines that can help scale up their businesses.
- Retain the existing members through the continued provision of monthly services ranging from legal aid clinics, financial education workshops, and exposure visits to market opportunities
- Add new services to the monthly roster, such as digital marketing clinics.
“Women entrepreneurs are keen to expand and grow their businesses, realize their ambitions and dreams, and build a secure future for themselves and their families. They need access to affordable finance, supportive networks, and the latest market information,'' said Chetna Sinha, Founder, Mann Deshi Foundation
''The Chamber of Commerce for Rural Women recognizes that connecting women to knowledge, markets, skills, financial services, technology, and networks is essential to helping women-owned businesses grow and thrive,'' she added.