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Innovations Marketplace for Gender Equality

InfoEdge Centre for Entrepreneurship (CfE) at Ashoka University with support from UNDP India, implemented the virtual incubation & mentorship as a part of the Innovations Marketplace Program for Gender Equality from March 2021 to July The program aimed at supporting 20 social entrepreneurs who are working for LGBTI+ livelihoods and/or mitigating gender based violence.

Being one of a kind incubation program, CfE supported 20 social entrepreneurs from over 11 Indian states, working within the broad thematic areas of LGBTI skills & employability, education, health (including mental health services) and social rights & inclusion etc.

The core structure of the program focused upon building the entrepreneurial skills & refining the social business models of the cohort as well as supporting them in navigating through the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program kickstarted in March 2021 with orientation & one to one need assessment to map the cohort requirements & expectations. Further through the program, we focused upon capacity building through a series of 6 masterclasses on: Design Thinking, Business Model Canvas, Storytelling, Fundraising, Legal & Financial Compliances and Social B-Plan Pitch. Each of the sessions was led by a domain expert trainer along with providing relevant knowledge resources.

Moreover, the program also created an avenue of facilitating monthly one to one dedicated mentorship with senior social entrepreneurs & ecosystem coaches to support our cohort in navigating through their entrepreneurial journeys & refining their business models. Within the program, we also facilitated 3 networking opportunities within the cohort, resource providers & strategic social enterprise stakeholders (including investors, donors & incubators).

To support the emotional wellbeing & curate the cohort experience, frequent team recreation & bonding exercises were also organized including Drag Artist Performance Evening held in June 2021. Last 3 weeks of the program were dedicated towards supporting the cohort in preparing their business pitches & 3 rounds of practice pitch sessions were also hosted for the cohort.

The program concluded with its Finale being hosted on June 15th & 16th, 2021 which also coincided with the World Youth Skills Day 2021.

The Day 1 of the finale hosted a panel discussion on “Strengthening the Entrepreneurial Skilling Ecosystem for LGBTI+ Youth” followed by Innovation Showcase pitch session where 17 incubatees presented their pitches to 2 jury panels of senior stakeholders.

The Day 2 of the finale opened with a panel discussion on “Importance of LGBTI+ Youth Voices in Entrepreneurship” followed by a networking roundtable with incubators, accelerators, investors & like minded ecosystem partners to support our cohort with building meaningful market linkages as well as curate post program opportunities for enterprise development.

Finally, the winners were announced by Ms. Nadia Rasheed, Deputy Country Representative, UNDP India and a special address was delivered by Dr. Chintan Vaishnav, Mission Director, Atal Innovation Mission (NITI Aayog).

The Top 10 selected winners will get the opportunity of being a part of UNDP’s regional springboard program and will be provided dedicated mentorship support by Being LGBTI in Asia & the Pacific.

Study at Ashoka

Study at Ashoka