Airbnb has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with National Commission for Women (NCW) to enter the tourism sector in the Northeast. The partnership will focus on skill development programmes for women in three states – Meghalaya, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh on a pilot basis. The state commissions will initially train a few women on hosting and getting financial assistance from banks, after which their homes will be listed on Airbnb’s platform.

On June 8, Airbnb extended a similar partnership with the Maharashtra Tourism Development Center (MTDC) to start associations with local communities and home-owners. After signing the MoU last year, MTDC said the company has registered 500 homes and it is now targeting 1,500 entrepreneurs for training programmes. The MoU was the first commercial partnership the company signed with a state government. The company will focus on Sindhudurg, Palghar and Ratnagiri districts this year.

“Through this partnership are aiming to not only reach a larger audience but all create at least 50,000 micro-entrepreneurs in the hospitality sector in the next five years. We are also aiming to build a homestay eco-system in the state and improve the hospitality standards,” said Jaykumar Rawal, Maharashtra tourism minister.

The first project under the partnership will kick off with Elephanta Island near Mumbai. The island is home to the 6th-century Elephanta caves — a UNESCO World Heritage site, protected by Archaeological Survey of India. Fresh construction is not allowed on the island, which has 1200-1500 homes. Airbnb will identify 35 homestays and train home-owners according to its norms.

The MoUs comes shortly after the company, valued at about $31 billion, launched its experience business category, ‘Trips’, in March 2017 and is looking to leverage the category in the country to widen its base. Airbnb currently lists 22,000 properties across 100 Indian cities and claims an annual growth of 125% in listings only in India.

Airbnb’s other investments in India

-In December last year, Airbnb signed an MoU with National Skill Development Corporation and Tourism and Hospitality Sector Skill Council (THSC) to provide hospitality skills training to 50,000 people in support of Skill India Mission.

-In March this year, Airbnb signed MoUs with the North Eastern Council, the North East Tourism Development Council and two key livelihood initiatives, North East Rural Livelihood Project and North Eastern Region Community Resource Management Society, to create hospitality micro-entrepreneurs across tourist destinations in the Northeast.

-In November 2016, Airbnb had signed a MoU with Self-Employed Women’s Association of India (SEWA) to expand its network of homes in rural India, in November last year. Initially, Airbnb and SEWA worked with SEWA members in Gujarat to offer their homes to Airbnb’s international and domestic guests.