Rise up North East campaign was launched in February 2021 under Project Her&Now. The campaign was designed for the North East Women Entrepreneurs by GIZ, Dhriiti-The Courage Within and Rang De, to provide access to alternate sources of financing and at a lower cost of credit for women entrepreneurs supported by Project Her&Now from the region. It was also an effort by GIZ and Dhriiti to help women entrepreneurs to counter the disastrous impact of COVID-19 on their businesses, and help entrepreneurs continue to operate, sustain, pivot, and stay afloat.
Building entrepreneurial capacity
In NER, the project is addressing one of the most pertinent challenges that women entrepreneurs have to undergo in their entrepreneurial journey- that of funding. Coupled with general biases against women entrepreneurs by formal lending institutions along with lack of information and compliance readiness to navigate the financial landscape by women entrepreneurs themselves, the financial desperation snowballs to a debt-trap for them as they fall prey to unregulated lenders with exorbitant interest rates. Moreover, given the nuances of the region, there exists a gap in having a correct funding model and finance instruments that can support the local ecosystem especially for small and growing businesses.
The Rise up North East Campaign is an overhaul to the existing financial system for women entrepreneurs in the region. Since its launch in February, the campaign has helped 21 women entrepreneurs in securing an aggregate fund of 34.5 Lakhs, ranging from 50,000 to 5 Lakhs, for their businesses. The numbers are increasing every day. As entrepreneurship enablers, for Project Her&Now and Dhriiti, the outcome does not stop at securing finances by the women entrepreneurs, it goes a long way in preparing WEs to become a part of mainstream funding. It formalises their credit history and other market assessment, in turn strengthening their credibility.
Beyond debt financing
While we celebrate the immediate outcome of funds raised as a culmination of capacity building effort through the program, we also need to celebrate the shift in the approach of women entrepreneurs as a result of visible and quantifiable gains and rewards. Habits like documentation, book-keeping etc., are faced with high resistance during the support programme, but the Rise up North East campaign has brought transparency in the process of securing funds and as a propeller for women entrepreneurs to cross this chasm of uncertainty in outcome.
A first of its kind, the Rise up North East campaign also welcomed Rang De, a peer-to-peer lending platform capped the interest rate charged by social investors at 6% providing further impetus to making affordable credit more accessible to many women entrepreneurs in the region.
Thoudam Premila Devi, Proprietor of Premila’s Poultry Farm, started her poultry farm business in Manipur during the onset of pandemic. With a plan to expand her poultry farm, she raised her funding through Rise up North East. Having secured an amount of INR 1 Lakh, Premila now has 350 more chickens in her farm with the investment. Going from 50 chickens to 400 chickens, she has started generating income by selling eggs and chicken.
Techi Reshna, Proprietor of Techi Reshna’s enterprise from Arunachal Pradesh invested the amount raised to procuring raw materials for her Handloom enterprise.
Tongbram Bijayashanti, Founder, Sanajing Sana Thambal, procured a machine for her new product line from the fund.
Diana Gurumayum, Founder, My Kangla Tours and Travels, Manipur, raised a fund of INR 50,000 for expanding her outdoor camping utilities. While her primary business in tours and travels has been severely affected due to the pandemic, she has invested in camping equipment with the raised funds and has created a stream of income by renting it, as a business pivot to stay afloat during the pandemic.
Rise up North East ties together the vision of Her&Now, Dhriiti, and Rang De as ecosystem enablers where this campaign acts as a stepping-stone to prepare women entrepreneurs for mainstream funding and in building their credibility for securing larger funds. The journey has only just started.
More entrepreneurs in the Rise Up North East campaign are looking for funding support. If you want to invest in them, or know someone who would like to, learn more here: https://rangde.in/rise-up-northeast
Ovi K Yeptho heads Partnerships and Programming at Dhriti-The Courage Within. With a background in corporate IT and in the digital sector, her experience in empowering small businesses in India and North America has strengthened her vision to support entrepreneurship and to generate more livelihood choices. A business school graduate and a former founder of an e-commerce start-up, she advocates the need for a more thriving ecosystem for women entrepreneurs in the country, and believes in becoming a transformative agent by lending her voice to the cause. She is currently managing the implementation of Project Her&Now in the North East Region from Dhriiti.