Mumbai: Tata Communications, a global digital ecosystem enabler, announced the launch of the ‘School of Hope and Empowerment’ (S.H.E.) at the 2021 UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development.

S.H.E., a multi-media, multi-stakeholder impact communications initiative is designed in collaboration with The Better India, an impact driven Indian digital media platform, to support and educate women from small towns in India to overcome key barriers to entrepreneurship.

By leveraging the power of digital connectivity and partnerships, Tata Communications will create enabling environments for, of and by women from marginalised communities to establish themselves as entrepreneurs and leaders in their communities.

S.H.E. includes a series of short films highlighting challenges faced by women in becoming entrepreneurs, such as gender stereotypes, family commitments, financial and societal constraints, and lack of self-belief. The trailer of the six-part video series, highlighting the inspirational journey of Hasrat Bano, a real-life rural woman entrepreneur, has been unveiled at the UNESCO event.

“When you decide to do a business, being a man or a woman does not make a difference, your brain and thinking does,” said Hasrat Bano. “S.H.E. is a milestone project in the journey of women like me who dream to become entrepreneurs. This initiative provides us with the knowledge and guidance to use technology, learn new skills and become financially independent. It creates opportunities for us at a local level that helps us run a business. We are grateful for this platform and hope women in rural India are able to benefit from this.”

Tata Communications aims to spotlight such stories of successful local entrepreneurs who are women, and offer them business grants, mentorship, digital training, amongst other key resources. Women, therefore, will be supported to embark on the path of financial independence to pursue their ideas and bring it to life. In addition to The Better India, the technical and knowledge partners will help strengthen the program implementation.

The aim of this project is to inspire at least a million women to realise their dreams of becoming entrepreneurs. In the first phase, S.H.E. is focused on aspiring women entrepreneurs aged 18-35 years from low-income backgrounds in the peri-urban areas of Dhanbad, Bokaro, East Singhbhum, Hazaribagh and Ranchi in Jharkhand.

With just 25 per cent of women in the labour force and limited employment opportunities in the region, this project will address the challenges of financial independence of these women. The next two phases of the project are aimed at including the entrepreneurial women in Odisha and Bihar.

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