New body for gender equality takes shape

Venkat Raman –

A new not-for-profit organisation, dedicated to gender quality in general and empowerment of women in particular, has announced a series of programmes and workshops beginning this month.

Women Entrepreneurship Centre (WEC) was established in April 2016 but has already commenced work but its agenda for the current year has just been released.

Inspiring women

Founder-Chief Executive Dr Sangeeta Karmokar said that the Centre is dedicated to developing women as successful business leaders through inspiration, education and enabling them to utilising existing and emerging opportunities.

“This is a platform that helps women entrepreneurs to reach their full potential and create economic and social value for themselves, their organisations and the society. The Centre has innovative education programmes, events, and workshops to support women entrepreneurs,” she said.

A postgraduate from Mysore University in India, Dr Karmokar completed her PhD in E-Business Design for Small-to-Medium Enterprises, a transdisciplinary between business and digital design.

A Senior Lecturer at ‘Colab,’ a ‘collaboratory’ of academics, industry partners, and postgraduate and undergraduate students, her current research and teaching expertise involves design thinking, digital innovation, entrepreneurial strategy, women entrepreneurship and designing business models and strategy.

Forming new synergies

It was her passion to create new synergies of female leadership and business acumen that encouraged in the formation of WEC with a discerning purpose.

“The goal is to provide mentoring, practical learning, consultancy and pursuing active research in areas of relevance to entrepreneurship. The Centre serves as a platform to learn and build a collective entrepreneurial future that creates economic and social value in New Zealand. It provides access to education, engagement with role models and opportunities to experiment with their ideas,” Dr Karmokar said.

She is aware that despite capabilities and great ideas, women restrict their progress because of a lack of confidence, compounded by inadequate information on sources of support and assistance.

Honing new talent

She believes that while incubators and business accelerator programmes are on offer from the government and from private undertakings, women need proper coaching and opportunities for growth from the grass-root level.

“Most programmes are focused on existing entrepreneurs but there is little scope for women to pursue their dreams. There are latent and untapped voices in the community who can add value to the economy and society,” Dr Karmokar said.

“It is not just about those women who are already on the boards of companies and in leadership roles, but also about women who have shown promise and would bring a unique entrepreneurial skill to the society. The main objective of establishing WEC was to empower such women,” she added.

Live Your Dream

The Centre has launched ‘Live Your Dream,’ a new programme to inspire, build self-confidence and educate women to recognise opportunities and adopt to the needs of the changing markets.

It also encourages people to develop self-awareness and develop their creative potential with a specific focus on their contribution to a more diverse New Zealand workforce and society.

‘Live Your Dream’ will see several initiatives in Auckland.

“Participants will be encouraged to think and act creatively and discover their strengths and overcome their weaknesses. We will employ many tools and techniques to identify opportunities and build creative thinking. Brainstorming, resources to write business proposals and explore ways of prototyping and testing will be a part of the Programme, “Dr Karmokar said.

Helping refugees

Refugees and migrant women are also an underutilised source of talent, she said, adding that women are under-represented in entrepreneurship roles.

“In New Zealand, we have the scenario of a significant number of highly experienced women leaving the workforce, or unable to get past their initial ideas and move into business ownership positions. Globally, men dominate business accelerator programmes, with women making up less than 20%” she said.

“Our vision is to build “Women as Entrepreneurial Leaders.”

Workshops will be held from February through to September followed by a boot camp and a Community Fair in October or November. Details appear in our Classifieds Page.

Additional Reading: ‘Women entrepreneurs make better sense’ under Viewlink.

Photo: Dr Sangeeta Karmokar

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