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Airtel Payments Bank partners with Frontier Markets, Mastercard to support 1 lakh women-owned businesses

Airtel Payments Bank, in collaboration with Mastercard Center and Frontier Markets, has introduced a transformative initiative named She Leads Bharat:Udyam. This initiative is designed to uplift 100,000 women-owned small businesses by providing them with opportunities to learn and earn.

Phase One: Learning and Earning

  • The initial phase of She Leads Bharat:Udyam is set to impact women-owned small businesses in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
  • Through Frontier Markets’ unique Meri-Saheli platform, 100,000 such businesses will gain the ability to learn and earn.
  • This platform, known for its flexibility and proprietary nature, will empower these businesses by offering a range of opportunities.

Airtel Payments Bank’s Role

  • Among the 100,000 women small business owners, 10,000 will be provided the chance to expand their enterprises by becoming Business Correspondents (BCs) for Airtel Payments Bank.
  • This strategic step is aligned with Airtel Payments Bank’s commitment to empower rural women to embark on entrepreneurial journeys.

Financial Inclusion and Empowerment

  • Anubrata Biswas, the MD&CEO of Airtel Payments Bank, highlighted the bank’s dedication to fostering women’s entrepreneurial aspirations. He expressed his enthusiasm for the collaboration with Frontier Markets and Mastercard in She Leads Bharat:Udyam.
  • This program not only welcomes women entrepreneurs as Business Correspondents but also builds on the existing network of 50,000 women BCs, amplifying the reach of banking and financial services in underserved rural areas.

Addressing Challenges

Women-owned small businesses often face hurdles that hinder their growth potential. In India, despite constituting 20% of all micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), women-owned businesses receive just 5% of the total financing provided by public-sector banks.

Empowering Women: A Catalyst for Inclusive Growth

  • When properly supported, women entrepreneurs become key contributors to inclusive economic growth.
  • Research shows that they are more likely to hire women, repay credit, and share increased income within their families and communities. Such women-led initiatives ultimately drive inclusive economic development.

Mastercard’s Insight on Inclusive Growth

Ari Sarker, President Asia Pacific at Mastercard, emphasized the significant role of women entrepreneurs in India’s workforce and economy. He noted that by providing these entrepreneurs with access to credit and digital tools, their businesses can expand and thrive, contributing to overall resilience and prosperity.

Unlocking Opportunities: The She Leads Bharat:Udyam Program

  • The She Leads Bharat:Udyam program stands as a collaborative effort between private sector entities, social enterprises, and philanthropy in the banking, financial services, and insurance sectors.
  • This digital-first model aims to unlock avenues for women-owned small businesses to enhance their income streams.

Execution and Partnerships

  • Frontier Markets, as a key player, will implement the program by leveraging its network of Saral Jeevan Sahelis—women entrepreneurs.
  • These Sahelis will identify and onboard women-owned small businesses onto the Meri-Saheli platform.
  • Additionally, in partnership with Airtel Payments Bank, eligible women-owned small businesses will become business correspondents, benefiting from enhanced product and brand exposure through the Saheli network and platform.

Funding for a Transformative Vision

  • Funding for the She Leads Bharat:Udyam initiative will be provided by the Mastercard Impact Fund.
  • Leveraging the resources and expertise of Mastercard’s Center for Inclusive Growth, this initiative aspires to make a meaningful impact on women entrepreneurs by fostering financial inclusion, skill development, and economic empowerment.

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