MASH Project Foundation in partnership with the Consulate General of Canada in Chandigarh organized MASH Mixer on ‘Decoding Women Entrepreneurship’ in Amritsar and Chandigarh. MASH Mixer is a community dialogue where like-minded change-makers from diverse backgrounds are brought together under the same roof to have meaningful conversations centric to the theme of women entrepreneurship. It aims to highlight powerful stories of women entrepreneurs, share insights, and voice opinions. The initiative was formed as a part of the larger efforts for promoting Gender Equality on the occasion of International Women’s Day 2020.
The first edition of MASH Mixer on ‘Decoding Women Entrepreneurship’ was organised at Majha House in Amritsar on February 28, 2020 while the second edition of the event was held at Elante Offices in Chandigarh on March 6, 2020. The 3 hour long event hosted about 80 like-minded participants from diverse backgrounds such as Women entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship networks and institutions, Civil society & International Development Agencies, Youth Communities and Incubators & Accelerators to listen to inspiring speakers, build collective dialogue, and exchange synergies to collaborate with like-minded people.
The events commenced with an Introduction Activity, in which,the participants gave a short introduction after bursting a balloon. This was followed by speaker sessions wherein Ms. Praneet Bubber, Founder of Phulkari shared about her journey as a women entrepreneur starting Phulkari, a network of women entrepreneurs in Amritsar. Followed which, Dr. Neeraj Kumar, a mentor at Chitkara University Centre for Entrepreneurship Education & Development (CUCEED), shared how CUCEED is supporting women entrepreneurs in Punjab and the underlying scenario of the incubation landscape for women entrepreneurs. Third in line, Ms. Preeti Gill, founder of Majha House shared about the culture & traditions of Punjab getting faded and her story behind starting Amritsar’s one of the first women led social enterprise- Majha House to provide a platform to the youth of Punjab in restoring the art, culture and heritage through community building.
At the MASH Mixer in Chandigarh, Ms. Prerna Kalra, Founder of Open Hand Solutions, talked about the challenges women face in starting their Entrepreneurial journey. Second in line, Mr. Sumeer Walia, Director of Chitkara University Centre for Entrepreneurship Education & Development (CUCEED) shared his insights on incubating women led enterprises and how CUCEED is supporting women entrepreneurs in Chandigarh to achieve business growth potential by providing them mentorship, community, capital and resources they need to fuel growth. Finally, Mr. Vineet Khurana, Vice President, Chandigarh Angels Network highlighted the need to address the biases against women-owned businesses and providing investments to women-led businesses.
While the first half of the Mixers set the context for the theme, the second half encouraged participants to put forth their ideas through Knowledge Cafe. The activity involved dividing the participants into three equal groups, each moderated by the expert speaker and assisted by a rapporteur. Each round of dialogue invited participants to ask questions, share opinions and put forward their recommendations for the community to promote women entrepreneurship. After 15 minutes, the moderator along with the prompt shuffled to another group to allow each group to discuss on a new theme in each round. After 3 rounds, the moderators presented the key findings of the discussion.
The themes for round 1 was ‘What makes an entrepreneur’, focusing on skill sets required to become an entrepreneur. The second round included ‘‘Ecosystem building for women entrepreneurs’ and the third round prompted ’Women as Social Entrepreneurs’, highlighting the need to encourage women in social entrepreneurship in Amritsar. In Chandigarh, ’Funding Women Entrepreneurs’ was the third round, which involved challenges faced while raising funds and opportunities.
The events drew curtains with an open networking session, wherein, the participants had the opportunity to engage with fellow participants and speakers to share opportunities, ideas, and synergies over high tea.
The Mixers saw gender representation of over 80% women and 20% men from diverse communities such as Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Networks and Institution, Incubators and Accelerators, Youth communities & Civil Society organisations. 11% of participants at the Mixers were youth under the age of 20 years, around 33% of the participants belonged to the age group of 21-30 years, 28% of the participants belonged to the age group of 31-40 years and 22% of the participants were over 40 years old. The Mixers also saw sectoral diversity of around 20% of the participants working on Women Empowerment, 20% of the participants belonging to the Education sector, 17% of the participants worked in the Health and Sanitation sector while 10% of participants belonged to the Skill Development/Livelihood sector.
The events ended on a high note with participants getting inspired to take up entrepreneurial activities, build meaningful collaborations, and form a community of women entrepreneurs to provide support to aspiring and existing entrepreneurs. All the participants had an enriching experience of coming together with several creative and entrepreneurial energies and fostering an ecosystem for partnerships that will create wider social impact.