India’s Niti Aayog on Thursday entered into a partnership with Facebook-owned WhatsApp to support the growth of a robust ecosystem to promote women entrepreneurs in India.

Under this partnership, WhatsApp, in collaboration with Niti Aayog, will announce an annual calendar of events aimed at capacity building of the women entrepreneurs and evolve specific programmes aimed at addressing challenges being faced by women entrepreneurs.

WhatsApp said it will also provide support amounting to $100,000 for the winners of Niti Aayog’s Women Transforming India (WTI) Awards 2019.

“It’s our honour to partner with NITI Aayog to help support the future women business leaders of India,” said Will Cathcart, Global Head of WhatsApp, at a small business event in New Delhi.

“Small businesses are the backbone of a strong economy and I am proud of the role WhatsApp can play in helping build the next generation of India’s women entrepreneurs,” Cathcart said.

The WTI Awards, which NITI Aayog organises in partnership with the United Nations, recognises stories of exceptional achievements by women who are breaking the glass ceiling and challenging stereotypes through businesses, enterprises, and initiatives aimed at solving key societal challenges.

“India has one of the most vibrant startup ecosystems, and the next big disruptions will be driven by women-led enterprises, with digital medium being the biggest enabler,” said Amitabh Kant, CEO of NITI Aayog.

“This partnership with WhatsApp underlines our mutual commitment to support the aspirations of women entrepreneurs in India,” he added.

Entrepreneurs contribute significantly to the growing digital economy in India, though women make up less than 14 per cent of the total 58.5 million entrepreneurs in India due to various challenges including access to digital tools, and limited funding options.

Partnerships between private companies and the public sector help accelerate digital inclusion and give much-needed access to funding so more women can achieve their business potential.