The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, graced and addressed the 34th annual session of FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) on April 5, 2018 in New Delhi.
Speaking on the occasion, the President said that women constitute half our country. They contribute to our economy at work and at home, in many diverse ways. Yet, when it comes to business and commerce, it is regrettable that women have not been given their due. We need to create conditions for more and more of our daughters and sisters to come into the workforce. We need to push harder to ensure appropriate, encouraging and safe conditions at home, in society and at the work-place to enhance the percentage of working women.
The President said that if more women become part of the workforce, both household incomes and our GDP will rise. We will become a more prosperous nation. Much greater than that, we will become a more equal society.
He added that the government has taken decisive steps to promote a culture of enterprise among ordinary citizens, especially women. The Stand-Up India initiative was launched in April 2016 to encourage entrepreneurship among women, SCs and STs. About 45,000 loans have been disbursed, mainly to sole proprietors. Almost 39,000 of these have gone to women – an overwhelming proportion. Under the MUDRA scheme, over the past three financial years, about 117 million loans have been sanctioned. Close to 88 million of these loans have gone to women entrepreneurs and he was happy to note that, as of December 2017, the number of NPAs in the MUDRA scheme is less than eight per cent of the loans sanctioned.
The President urged the members of FLO to see how they can make these businesses – largely run by women – integral to their value chains. How can they partner these humble start-ups – as vendors, ancillaries, suppliers, distributors or in any other form. He stated that our corporate sector must take determined steps towards creating women-friendly and gender-sensitive supply chains – to empower women in our economy, rather than just accommodate them.