‘I am, because you are’ refers to UBUNTU, a popular African philosophy which places emphasis on being self through others. This philosophy inspired a group of women entrepreneurs to lay the foundation for ‘Ubuntu Consortium of Women Entrepreneurs’, a consortium of Women Entrepreneur associations pan India. It is a non-government organization that was established in 2015 and registered under Societies Act on 8th March 2019.
Ubuntu Consortium is a brain-child of and led by Ratnaprabha, former Chief Secretary, Government of Karnataka. It was founded with a vision to bring together women entrepreneurs from diverse fields and to provide an ecosystem that nurtures and encourages them to grow to their full potential.
As the saying goes, “The ultimate use of power is to empower others”. True to this quote, Ubuntu Consortium provides support to micro- entrepreneurs from Tier 2 & tier 3 cities Mahila Mandal and Women Entrepreneur’s Associations at grassroot level. This is accomplished through their knowledge sharing and skill development workshops, networking, trade exposures, B2B platforms, best practices which aid the women entrepreneurs out there by providing them exposure and encouragement they require to thrive and upscale their businesses to the global level.
Ubuntu Consortium’s constant endeavour to aid the growth and development of Women Entrepreneurs has resulted in Karnataka State Government setting up women entrepreneurs’ parks in 5 districts of Karnataka.
Over a period of time, Ubuntu Consortium has been able to register 22 member Associations across the country even during pandemic. It also facilitated B2B and B2C platform to explore business opportunities. Around 12,000 secondary members are utilizing the services of Ubuntu.
Ubuntu Consortium has also been in the forefront of providing marketing support to women entrepreneurs. These efforts include leading delegations to international trade fairs at Orlando, Bruno, Czech Republic, Slovenia etc, a B2B and networking platforms in various events where MNCs like Amazon, Flipkart, Asian Paints, Big Basket actively took part with mutual benefits.
Ubuntu’s flagship event, WOW- 2020 Enterprise Connect, facilitated B2B and B2C partnering in selected sectors to explore business opportunities & partnerships, vendor listing & procurement. The event brought together women entrepreneurs with necessary connect across Corporates, Global Organisations, Trade Associations and Government by ensuring their growth and encouraging them to expand their businesses.
When COVID pandemic brought the world to a standstill, Ubuntu stayed connected digitally with 30 women associations and all its members. The idea was to lend support to the women entrepreneurs during these difficult times. As an initial step during the pandemic, ‘Ubuntu help desk’ was setup along with KASSIA (Karnataka Small Scale Industries Association) and the UNDP (United Nations Developmental Programs). This dedicated helpdesk was to address the grievances that arose due to Covid -19.
Several webinars on digital marketing & how to face the crisis during Covid fallout, along with a session on online marketing supported by UNDP and ACCESS, were organized. The seminars were conducted every month so that the women aren’t at a loss during the pandemic. Training program for women entrepreneurs to handle stress and work life balance organized in association with WICCI life-skills was found to be extremely useful.
Initiative UNESCAP training program to train Women Entrepreneurs for digital marketing and e-commerce delivered remarkable results by empowering women to onboard their products.
Ubuntu Consortium of Women Entrepreneurs Association was the knowledge partner of the “Covid-19 Udyog Sahayavani Project” launched by United Nations Development Programme, Karnataka, to provide business advisory services and hand holding support to entrepreneurs and MSMEs. A series of webinars were organized on a variety of subjects. These included how to grow your business during COVID-19 and Digital Empowerment of artisans and rural micro-entrepreneurs for sustainable online market linkages. Webinars were also conducted on stress management and grinding technology to enhance productivity in collaboration programs with UNDP and KASSIA.
Training programs on digital empowerment of artisans and rural micro entrepreneurs for sustainable online market linkages were conducted in 3 batches to connect them globally. Women entrepreneurs from several districts of Karnataka and other states took part in the event.
Virtual Job Fair under the COVID-19 Udyogsahayavani project and in collaboration with United Nations Development Programs (UNDP) and KASSIA witnessed participation of 280 candidates along with registration of 52 companies.
Ubuntu Consortium started the year 2021 with major breakthroughs which included signing of MOU with Global Alliance for Mass Entrepreneurship to develop women entrepreneurship ecosystems.
Xcelerator Programme of Ubuntu in collaboration with GAME and FKCCI galvanized stakeholders in the ecosystem such as Government departments, financial institutions & skills institutions to align with the mission and created a more supportive ecosystem for women entrepreneurship
Ubuntu Consortium also signed MOUs with UNDP, GAME, UNESCAP, WICCI life Skills, Vision Karnataka Foundations and Mera Bills to strengthen the member Associations.
Prebudget meetings with Government of Karnataka enabled bringing in policies and schemes supportive to women entrepreneurs to scale up their business.
During the event held on 18th November 2021 wherein Head, Inclusive Growth, UNDP participated, interactions were held with a large number of other associations of women entrepreneurs. The idea was to provide a platform to network and seek inspiration from success stories.
Led by visionary Ratna Prabha, Ubuntu Consortium made it happen and presents a wonderful example of Nexus of Good where an initiative to assist women entrepreneurs has been scaled. Enabling women to earn livelihood is perhaps the best way to empower them. This is precisely what Ubuntu Consortium is doing and doing it quite successfully. Even COVID could not stop their march on account of the commitment of Ratna Prabha and her dedicated team. The Consortium now has 19000 members from more than 30 Associations. It is a model that can be replicated and scaled further.
Anil Swarup has served as the head of the Project Monitoring Group, which is currently under the Prime Minister’s Offic. He has also served as Secretary, Ministry of Coal and Secretary, Ministry of School Education.