Hatch in collaboration with the US Department of State recently announced ‘AccelerateHER‘, Sri Lanka’s first accelerator program for female founders and a gender-based awareness-raising initiative, aimed at developing women entrepreneurs within the country.
The program is the latest in a series of steps taken by Hatch to enhance gender parity in Sri Lanka as a critical lever to advance women’s equality in 2021 and beyond.
“We believe that investing in women is the smartest economic venture of today. When women grow, families prosper and nations move forward. Through AccelerateHER, we hope to amplify female voices, accelerate their success, and create a deep culture where women are leading, shaping, and raising the future.” says Brindha Selvadurai, Co-Founder, CEO at Hatch.
The need for such a program is showcased by the latest available data, which indicates that 72.7% of the “economically inactive population” in Sri Lanka accounts for females, resulting in an untapped reservoir of human resources not contributing to its GDP growth. The main barriers for women when entering the entrepreneurship space include access to financial resources, inadequate training and access to information, care burden, lack of societal support, and legal barriers.
Over the last 18 months, Hatch has already laid the groundwork for this change in the form of a series of incubator programs for women entrepreneurs. There is now a need for a new initiative that would aid seasoned female entrepreneurs past the initial stages of business, to help them scale and grow internationally. Hatch is now motivated in looking forward; towards fulfilling the need for growth and expansion in this young ecosystem.
AccelerateHER will solve this demand by providing concrete steps toward the systemic transformation needed to reshape the entrepreneurial landscape of Sri Lanka to a more open, inclusive, and collaborative one. AccelerateHER will focus on the gaps of the current landscape to develop an ideal solution for women entrepreneurs, by absorbing the risk of entrepreneurship, enabling innovation through international partnerships, and building long-term female networks.
Outside of general business support, AcchelerateHER also takes into consideration the additional skills required by women entrepreneurs. These considerations include a specialized focus on both digital and financial literacy.
An increased focus on improving digital literacy for women entrepreneurs by providing access and knowledge to digital tools is vital for competing in the post-pandemic economy. A focus on such tools will allow women entrepreneurs to flourish, while also establishing regional and global business development pathways. Secondly, access to finance and adequate financial literacy for these women entrepreneurs can result in their financial independence.
Hatch has recognized the critical role played by women in driving the overall development of a country. In the long run, this initiative hopes to increase the participation of women in the workforce, in turn facilitating commercial growth, innovation, productivity and overall development that would benefit Sri Lanka’s broader economic goals.
“Women are job creators, and we need them now more than ever. We must take actionable steps to ensure we are not losing talent, capabilities, and opportunities due to a lack of female participation in the workforce”, said Brindha.
Hatch will further conduct island-wide bootcamps in 2022. Modules will cover key stages of business development, such as the adoption of an entrepreneurial mindset, developing ideas via design thinking and lean startup methodologies, exploring market fit, designing pitches, identifying sources of funding, finding the right partners and building teams. A major focus of these bootcamps will be placed on supporting women-owned businesses that are economically and sustainably viable.
The participants will also benefit from the participation of Hatch`s growing list of female alumni, which will encourage peer-to-peer learning and promote inspiration.
Applications for AcchelerateHER will open at the end of November 2021 for women-owned businesses within Sri Lanka. All those interested in being a part of Sri Lanka’s first-ever accelerator for female founders are requested to contact Hatch at email@example.com for further information.