Google To Earmark $75 Mn For Women-Led Startups In India

Google To Earmark $75 Mn For Women-Led Startups In India
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Google will take out $300 Mn from the $10 Bn Google for India Digitisation Fund for Indian startups, a quarter of which will be earmarked for women-led startups in the country, according to CEO Sundar Pichai.

“We have announced a $300 Mn fund, of which one quarter will go towards startups led by women, or startups which are focused on bridging the gender divide,” said Pichai at Google For India 2022, the tech giant’s eighth such event for the country.

“The sophistication of India’s startup ecosystem is measurably improving. Part of what we’ve done with the India Digitisation Fund is to increasingly focus on startups from India. These companies are getting noticeable scale,” said the Google CEO, adding that there is no time like the present to do a startup.

Per an Inc42 analysis, only 15% of India’s first 100 unicorns had at least one woman founder, and the gender divide in India’s startup ecosystem down the pyramid is even more worrying. According to Inc42 data, women-led startups have raised $11.34 Bn across 844 deals between 2014 and November 2022.

For context, the overall startup funding in India stood at $135.5 Bn during the same time. Therefore, funding raised by women-led startups represents 8.37% of the total funding Indian startups have raised so far.

Earlier this year, Google announced a new cohort-based startup program, Google for Startups Accelerator Women Founders, for women-led startups in the country. 

Under the programme, Google provided support to 20 women-led startups, focusing from the pre-seed to Series A stages of startups. The program was pro bono and no capital was allocated for it. Google India also did not take any onboarding charges or equity from the startups to participate in the cohort.

The cohort for the accelerator was announced in October 2022, with 20 women-led startups working in AI/ML, cloud, UX, Android, web3, product strategy and growth.

At Google For India 2022, the tech giant made several other announcements to help foster inclusion within India’s digital ecosystem.

Along with several initiatives to make the internet more accessible, including vernacular language support in Search and YouTube, Google also announced Project BINDI at Google for India 2022, which will evaluate and mitigate fairness issues in publicly available natural language processing (NLP) models.

“This project will allow us to advance research and knowledge and build an understanding of AI models along three dimensions – societal context like family structure and education, technological gaps like access and social culture and norms,” said Sapna Chadha, vice president of marketing at Google.

‘More foreign investments will be huge boost for startups in India’

Entrepreneurs, besides generating jobs, can be successful even with smaller units if they could impact society with their services or products and become an integral part of people’s lives, says a businessperson

More foreign investments are likely to flood the country in the coming years which will create a conducive environment for startups in India which required huge infrastructural development, said I.A.S. Balamurugan, Managing Partner, ANICUT Capital.

Addressing an open house for startups from southern districts, organised by Technology Business Incubator of Thiagarajar College of Engineering here on Thursday, Mr. Balamurugan said people had emerged resilient after various major crises like Black Death, small pox, Spanish flu, plague and recently COVID-19. Demonetisation saw the flourishment of unified payments interface in India.

India, being a capital-starved country, would attract foreign investments from countries with lesser people to cater to, for creating the huge infrastructure the nation still required. Entrepreneurs had good scope in sectors such as health, logistics service, fintech, fast-moving consumer goods and clean technology.

The entrepreneurs, besides generating jobs, could be successful even with smaller units if they could impact society with their services or products and become an integral part of people’s lives.

However, he advised them to go in search for funding only if they could not scale up their innovative ideas without additional funds.

Venkatesh Ramarathinam, founder of Vuram, said entrepreneurs should be clear about why they want set up a startup in the first place. They should have an unwavering focus and belief in the success of their ventures and should not get distracted by other enticing opportunities.

Mr. Ramarathinam said incentives to workers would help in building up the venture. ‘Have a mix of external and homegrown talents and always be open for change for betterment,” he said.

Hiring the right people and respecting and rewarding them will help, he added.

K. Hari Thiagarajan, Trustee of TCE, said it was important for the entrepreneur as to how he/she would change the life of the people for the better and keep trying to innovate. He added that the start-up open house would become an annual event in the college.

M. Palaninatha Raja, Principal (in charge), and S. Chandran, Dean - Students, spoke.

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