In a chat with ET, Facebook India's public policy director Ankhi Das spoke about some of these efforts.
What is the rationale behind SheMeansBusiness?
Last year we announced a very strong capacity building programme called SheMeansBusiness. We looked at addressing brand recognition, which earlier was a cost and labour intensive process. Over the past year, we have gone to the grassroots in six states, addressing questions from women on how to set up a Facebook page, how to sell their brand, and so on. We trained more than 4,500 women entrepreneurs in 2016 in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Punjab, Maharashtra and Karnataka, going deep into tier-II and tier-III towns. The targeted states in 2017 are Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Delhi, Assam, and Jammu and Kashmir.
We have seen that a lot of women entrepreneurs' work is also about local culture and local art, preservation of local culture. We have women entrepreneurs' case studies, like this lady who makes chiffon saris. She wanted to set up a store but was constrained by finance and family issues. Now, her entire order taking is done on Facebook, and she caters not just to domestic market but also abroad.
How do you look at existing women entrepreneurs, how do you keep them engaged?
We have partnered with She the People, and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women programme, and through both these partnerships, we have been able to draw some of these women. You need a kind of "sisterhood shoutout", and through our platform, we try and showcase some of these high performers. After a certain stage when you want to mentor, we also provide that opportunity.
How do you partner with the government and other ways of bringing more women online?
We partnered with the ministry of women and child development and minister Maneka Gandhi last year, and also ran the 100 Women programme that crowdsourced entries of top 100 women in areas like public service, craft, and teaching.