“It is no secret that the economic disruption caused by the pandemic has hit women-dominated sectors and small businesses the hardest, leaving women vulnerable to the loss of livelihoods…entrepreneurship amongst women can play a pivotal role in creating stronger economic outcomes for society,” Amazon India Senior VP and Country Head Amit Agarwal said during a virtual event.
He added that over the last decade, women-owned businesses have increased penetration amongst enterprises in India, and this has been made possible by consistent investments from national and state governments, private sector, financial organisations and educational institutions.
“At Amazon, we remain committed to support the success of women-led small and medium businesses…Technology and e-commerce have emerged as equalisers that can provide women a level-playing field, enabling them to build scalable businesses and create positive impact in society,” he said.
Agarwal said the company runs various programmes, including Saheli and Launchpad that aim to accelerate representation of women in businesses and promote entrepreneurship.
“We’re excited to announce the launch of a special storefront highlighting close to 80,000 unique products made available by more than 450 women-led small businesses on our online marketplaces. We are also extremely glad that we are partnering with an organization like UN Women to support these small businesses,” he added.
Agarwal noted that for every customer order from the storefront, Amazon will donate Rs 25 to NGO partner, Nanhi Kali towards sponsoring education of underprivileged girls.
Besides, Amazon India will have limited edition bookmarks that will feature inspiring stories of women entrepreneurs that will be shipped with books purchased from the e-commerce platform.
“We believe that these stories will go a long way to showcase how women entrepreneurs are succeeding and to add to inspire others around them,” he added.
She also commended the work of six million women – including doctors, nurses, aanganwadi and Asha workers – who are at the frontline of managing COVID-19 pandemic and helped patients in hospitals as well as delivered food to homes of families with expectant mothers and those with young children.
“We have the privilege of serving over 70 million female entrepreneurs in our country…over Rs 309 billion (Rs 30,900 crore) especially in the pandemic was transferred to the bank account of 226 million Indian women, so that they can have access to credit or for that matter, access to ready cash, thereby strengthening their purchasing power, especially in the time of the pandemic,” she added.
She said that there are also initiatives under the Government e-Marketplace (GeM) that seek to develop women entrepreneurship to achieve gender-inclusive economic growth.
She also suggested “gender-neutral nomenclature”, especially for describing businesses.
“I think one of the greatest tributes that we can give to them is to signify to the world at large that their businesses and their business intentions and capacities are as robust and as equal to male entrepreneurs,” Irani said.
Susan Ferguson, UN Representative India, said accelerating growth in the number as well as the size of women-owned businesses can generate transformational employment in India.
“It can create 170 million jobs by 2030 and the online environment has certainly helped reach this growth. Online sales have become a necessity since the pandemic. Through e-commerce platforms, women entrepreneurs can tap into new markets anywhere in the world,” she added.