Google On a Spree To Support Startups, Women Entrepreneurs in India

Google's new partnership with Britannia to help women homemakers turn entrepreneurs is just the latest among a string of initiatives to boost the Indian startup ecosystem, with a special focus on female leadership

By Soumya Duggal • Jan 1, 2023 Originally published Jan 1, 2023

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US tech giant Google has joined forces with FMCG brand Britannia Industries to launch 'Britannia Marie Gold My Startup Season 4', an initiative to empower homemakers to run their own small businesses. At least 10 selected women entrepreneurs will each receive funds worth INR 10 lakh from Britannia, in addition to business literacy training under Google's 'Women Will' program.

The collaboration is the latest among a string of initiatives undertaken by Google to boost the Indian startup ecosystem, especially women entrepreneurs operating within it.

"Technology can help any business grow, but for that the leaders of these businesses and the people working for them should have the right skills. It's a must-have for all types of businesses around the world, especially women entrepreneurs—whether they're small business owners, manufacturers, developers or startups," said Shalini Puchalpalli, director, customer solutions, Google India.

During his visit to India last month, Google CEO Sundar Pichai met with telecom and IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw and prime minister Narendra Modi to emphasise the tech company's efforts in supporting Indian startups across key sectors such artificial intelligence (AI), agriculture, healthcare, cybersecurity, education and so on. One-fourth of Google's $300 million India Digitisation Fund (IDF) will be invested in women-led startups, said Pichai.

His statement came a week after Google announced a partnership with the ministry of electronics and IT's (MeitY) Startup Hub to help 100 early- to mid-stage Indian startups to scale up with the second edition of its Appscale Academy programme. The company also plans to launch a multi-city roadshow soon, aiming to engage over 1,000 startups across emerging startup hubs like Surat, Indore, Coimbatore, Gangtok and Jaipur.

The last few months have likewise witnessed Google's many collaborations with the Indian government as well as academia to overhaul the country's technological landscape, thereby creating a conducive environment for startups to prosper: Google India and IISc's Project Vaani will build an AI-based language model to understand diverse Indian languages and dialects; Google Research India's $1 million grant to IIT Madras will be used to launch a Center for Responsible AI; under a partnership with the Karnataka government, Google will provide essential training and mentorship programs to start-ups and women founders across non-metro cities in areas such as Cloud, user experience (UX), Android, Web, product strategy, leadership and marketing.

Discussing the tech and AI advancements in the Indian digital space with Vaishnaw at Google for India 2022, Pichai said, "There is no better time to do a startup (in India) than the current moment; even though we are working through a macro-economic moment like this. Companies like Google were created in moments of downturn."

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