WINcubate: A series of trainings to drive gender-equitable change in the incubation ecosystem (Part I)

Gender-lens to gender-smart

Since 2019, GIZ’s Project Her&Now has successfully designed and piloted gender-sensitive entrepreneurship support programmes in partnership with different implementation partners in multiple states of India, such as the North East, Telangana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. More than 700 women from tier II and tier III cities in these states have received comprehensive training on businesses competencies. Based on the best practices of these pilots, the WINcubate Training Programme for incubators has been developed in collaboration with Dhriiti – the courage within with the objective to mainstream gender-sensitive practices in the entrepreneurship ecosystem and to equip incubators to adopt women-centric approaches in the design and pedagogy of their incubation programmes to make them more inclusive and accessible.

Winning with WINcubate

The WINcubate training offers incubators the space and platform to prompt new thinking along the lines of organizational culture, structure and operations. Incubators are supported to reflect on adequate representation of women at the board and governance of the incubators as well as a gender balanced and gender sensitized team and pool of mentors. They receive hands-on advice on how to integrate gender considerations into the organizational set-up.

The WINcubate training adds value to conventional incubator trainings by covering three interwoven content themes of gender, business and entrepreneurship to holistically support incubators to design a gender-sensitive incubation programme.

Women work, learn, manage...differently

Incubators get exposed to new concepts of gender-sensitive approaches to entrepreneurship promotion by learning about specific styles in which women learn, manage, negotiate and make decisions as well as the rationale behind how and why women entrepreneurs network. Incubators also receive guidance on how to identify and collaborate with the relevant type of partners and stakeholders.  

WINcubate is open to all incubators with an intent to invest in women-centric incubation programmes and make the shift from a general incubator to a gender-smart incubator.

The training can also help incubators to build an inclusive and diverse portfolio that improves their ability to attract good entrepreneurs and understand best practices in gender-focused approaches to incubation and monitoring, enabling them to meet their business and social impact outcomes efficiently.

The WINcubate trainings

In April 2021, Her&Now and Dhriiti - the courage within piloted the WINcubate Foundation Level Training for 10 incubators from the national network of Atal Incubation Centers. This training spread over 4 online sessions. The incubators were enabled to better understand the need and scope of women centric incubation programs, the elements and prerequisites required for setting up a successful women centric incubation program.  The training was very well received. The foundation training was followed by a self-assessment process to identify the individual needs of the incubators, and then a one-on-one session with Dhriiti and Her&Now to discuss possible ways to meet such needs.

In August 2021, 12 incubators from the network of the Gujarat Government Start-up Policy participated in the WINcubate Foundation Level training, which was also well-received. Her&Now and Dhriiti plan to gather insights and learnings along the way and conduct similar trainings for incubators across the country in the coming months.

Watch out this space to learn more about our Advance Trainings in part 2 of this blog.

Read more about WINcubate trainings here.


Charu Agarwal is the policy development lead for Project Her&Now. She firmly believes that for any economy to prosper, inclusively and sustainably, policy must support aspiration. She is currently working towards making government and institutional policy relevant, accessible and sensitized to the needs of women entrepreneurs. Prior to this, she has almost 9 years of professional experience across project management, programme design and implementation, evidence based public policy and risk advisory.

Derya Bischoff was an advisor with Project Her&Now. She oversaw the implementation of the Her&Now support programmes in Rajasthan and UP and worked towards mainstreaming women-centric incubation practices within the entrepreneurship ecosystem. Derya strongly believes that promoting women entrepreneurship is key to positively influence economic growth and society as a whole. 

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