Co-working spaces go the extra mile to guide woman entrepreneurs

An entrepreneur who works out of a Gurgaon-based coworking space has reason to cheer. The shared workplace is soon rolling out a women’s forum, under which female community members can share experiences, network, and brainstorm. Also on the anvil: more woman-focused events.
 
“As I get my fintech venture off the ground, I can draw from the strengths of other women with similar ambitions,” said the 28-year old, who asked to remain anonymous.
 
Around the country, co-working spaces have a new agenda: supporting female entrepreneurs within their communities. Support groups, networking and mentorship sessions, and events addressed by woman cofounders who’ve gone the distance — there’s all this and more for female community members looking to build their own startups.
 
India may be the third largest startup hub in the world, but only 9% of the founders of such companies are women, according to a report by Grant Thornton and Assocham. Such initiatives by co-working spaces, say experts, could ultimately contribute towards greater female representation in the startup ecosystem.
Connecting entrepreneurs
 
91springboard has rolled out a ‘Women Entrepreneurs’ League’, a micro-community of women who encourage and inspire one another to lean into their business ambitions. The objective is to share tools and knowledge, and network to help each other grow.
 
“One of the recent programmes organised was a talk by senior woman entrepreneurs on how would-be founders can turn their dreams of starting up into reality,” said co-founder Pranay Gupta.The company is also organising a ‘free week’ at its Gurgaon hub in March, under which women can come and work out of the space for a week at no cost, experience the community, and understand whether it fits their requirements.
 
Sessions are also being organised on emotional well-being for woman entrepreneurs, growth hacks to bootstrap a company, how they can take care of taxation, finance and investments, and build their professional brand on LinkedIn.
 
IndiQube will soon launch a networking club exclusively for woman entrepreneurs at its new space, to be up and running this month. This platform will be for presenting ideas, and brainstorming with each other, said cofounder Meghna Agarwal. The company also gives subsidised rates to female entrepreneurs seeking to work out of shared workspaces.
 
Woman-focused events
 
GoWork, which currently operates in Gurgaon, is looking to engage closely with woman entrepreneurs through various events. “In January, we hosted a talk with Kaaryah founder Nidhi Agarwal, who addressed woman community members and shared her experiences with fundraising,” said co-founder Sudeep Singh. The aim is to create a workplace that’s inclusive for woman entrepreneurs, said Awfis founder Amit Ramani. “We regularly bring in experts who speak on leadership and technology.”
 
The Hive, which operates a 100,000-sq ft space in Bengaluru, recently organised a TEDx event for woman entrepreneurs, focusing on ways to find success within the Indian ecosystem. And CoWrks hosts leading female entrepreneurs at its premises who share their stories.
 
Driving partnerships
 
91springboard and Workspace are exploring partnering with various online communities of women, to support budding entrepreneurs. And this Women’s Day, GoWork organised a session with angel groups and VCs like Venture Catalysts, Gurgaon Angels, and its in-house angel group, GoVentures, where female entrepreneurs were able to pitch their ideas. Driving this partnership with industry ecosystem players is crucial for co-working spaces to better engage with woman entrepreneurs, Singh said.
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