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In-Depth Jobs

Volume-49, 3-9 March, 2018


Women Entrepreneurs- Leading The way

Lovey Chaudhary

“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!”

- Maya Angelou

Observed from the 1900s, International Women’s Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace is celebrated every year on March 8 in order to focus on the achievements and contributions of the women in the society. India has proudly led the world in ratifying UN Conventions and international covenants like the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Beijing Platform for Action. The earliest celebration is believed to be held at a socialist political event in New York City in 1909.

With the widening context of women and their rights across the world, different themes every year address issues that are faced by women. For instance, in 2010, the International Women’s Day the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) brought to the world’s attention, the physical and mental hardships displaced women endure, as a result of armed conflicts and humanitarian crisis. The theme of International Women's Day 2018 campaign is #PressforProgress.

International Women’s Day, as the name implies, is a day to celebrate womanhood, their social, political, cultural,  economic achievements and their significant contributions to society, while laying importance on gender equality. It asserts the equal freedoms and rights that women have access to like other gender.

Gandhi said, ‘Intellectually, mentally, and spiritually, woman is equivalent to a male and she can participate in every activity." From Sita in Ramayana to Kannagi in Silapathikaram to Rani Jhansi are not only celebrated women but also their contribution to social change and awareness had been immense.

India is fortunate to have had many great women - Auvaiyar, Annie Besent , First women president of Indian National Congress, Nevedita, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, First Indian Woman President of UN General Assembly, Mother Teresa, Sarojini Naidu to Indira Gandhi only the second woman Prime Minster in the world, to Kalpana Chawla, Indra Nooyi to Pratibha Patil first women President of India and many more in the Indian Corporate sector who have proved to be more than a match. Their contribution to society in whole and to Women in Particular is invaluable.

In Modern Indian society women are playing stellar role, even challenging the counterparts in Politics. More importantly their role in family building, society development is beyond substantial. Indian woman is emerging out of their conventional role, realizing their unlimited potential and have begun to take major role in all walks of life.

Today’s woman is a ‘Superwoman’ who is breaking all the stereotypes and the orthodox moulds and is managing everything single-handedly. But that was not the case in history. And this journey helps us to understand the significance of International Women’s Day.

Gone are the days when women were considered no match for all powerful men in this world. The new generation women across the world have overcome all negative notions and have proved themselves beyond doubt in all spheres of life including the most intricate and cumbersome world of entrepreneurship.

At a global level, about 126 million women have started or are running their businesses and whereas in India, there are about 8 million women have started or are running their businesses. Apart from that, women have 24% share in corporate senior management positions and in India it’s 30% for the same.Not only that, round about 37% of formal enterprises owned by women around the globe whereas 10% of formal enterprises in India are being operated by women.

Women entrepreneurship is gaining importance in India in the wake of economic liberalization and globalization. The policy and institutional framework for developing entrepreneurial skills, providing vocation education and training has widened the horizon for economic empowerment of women. However, women constitute only one third of the economic enterprises. There exist a plethora of successful business women entrepreneurs both in social and economic fields in India. Government of India has also introduced National Skill Development Policy and National Skill Development Mission in 2009 in order to provide skill training, vocational education and entrepreneurship development to the emerging work force. However, entrepreneurship development and skill training is not the only responsibility of Government and therefore other stakeholders need to shoulder the responsibility.

Women today are leaving the workforce in droves in favour of being at home. Not to be a homemaker, but as job-creating entrepreneurs. The increasing presence of women in the business field as entrepreneurs has changed the demographic characteristics of business and economic growth of the country. Women-owned businesses enterprises are playing a more active role in society and the economy, inspiring academics to focus on this interesting phenomenon.

The Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) co-hosted by India and the US in Hyderabad in November which was also attended by Ivanka Trump, the advisor and daughter of US President Donald Trump is a recent development in both the private and public sector among women entrepreneurs.

Government Schemes for Women Entrepreneurs

Encouraged by the fast-emerging group of women entrepreneurs, NITI Aayog will launch a dedicated women's cell to provide them with a platform where various stakeholders can connect to give a boost to their initiatives.

Women Entrepreneurs can be seen everywhere in the startup ecosystem of India. There are various schemes and loans exclusively for women that aim at promoting and easing out the process for them. Annapurna Scheme, Stree Shakti Package For Women Entrepreneurs, Bharatiya Mahila Bank Business Loan, Dena Shakti Scheme, Udyogini Scheme, Cent Kalyani Scheme, Mahila Udyam Nidhi Scheme, Mudra Yojana Scheme for Women and Orient Mahila Vikas Yojana Scheme are some of the schemes available for women to take their first step.

 International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.

Narendra Modi’s start up friendly environment in the country has proved to be a blessing for female entrepreneurs and instrumental in fighting gender stereotyping in the business community.

A number of businesses have begun and boomed, or begun and bombed in the year gone by – it’s definitely been an interesting year in the world of startups.

What’s good to see is that so many women Entrepreneurs in India have been just as enterprising as their male counterparts and made a name for themselves with their ventures.

Over the past few years, India has recorded growth in women entrepreneurship and more women are pursuing their career in this direction.

India has its own pool of fearless and talented women entrepreneurs who’ve made a mark for themselves in India as well as overseas. They've embraced entrepreneurship and established their own venture.

Nothing could be truer for the women entrepreneurs of today who are chartering unknown territories unabashedly and fearlessly. Be it in ecommerce, education, investing, travel, fashion, retail, fitness, hiring, and anything and everything under the sun, they are proceeding with gumption and unbridled enthusiasm to change the world around them, make a difference with their ideas, seek solutions that have never been sought, fight diseases and social norms, run successful ventures and generate employment for many, and give rise to new sustainable ecosystems.

If you are looking for some inspiration to launch your business or take on that leadership role, look no further than India’s very own most empowering and successful female entrepreneurs. It is time we start celebrating the women entrepreneurs in the country, who broke all barriers by establishing a pedestal for themselves in fields previously not forayed by women and have emerged as role models for other women and girls.

Prominent Indian Women Entrepreneurs

From heads of global business giants to founders of some of the most innovative start-ups, these super accomplished women have fought against all odds to get where they are today.

Mehvish Mushtaq, is the first Kashmiri woman to develop an android application, Mehvish broke all stereotypical and entrepreneurial barriers with her brainchild of a Kashmir-centric ‘Yellow Pages’ equivalent, Dial Kashmir. Providing users with detailed information such as addresses, phone numbers and email ids of various essential services and relevant government departments in Kashmir, her app has helped scores of people in the region by becoming a one-stop source for information on healthcare, education, transport, the police and various other sectors.

Pabiben Rabari, the founder of one of the first women artisan enterprises in the country, Pabiben Rabari stands as a true brand ambassador of the colourful Kutch district. With the aim of expanding the tribal legacy of Rabari embroidery, she joined a Rabari women’s group and ended up crafting unique styles of embroidery, including Hari Jari and Pabi Jari. Currently, her eponymous business based in Kukadsar employs over 60 women making more than 25 designs, and her website is quite popular across the world.


SobitaTamuli from directly manufacturing and selling kesuhaar (organic manure) to customised japis (traditional conical hat from Assam) without the involvement of middlemen, from Assam’s Telana village quite literally brought along a tide of entrepreneurial revolution by paving the way for other women in her town to become self-sufficient. Forming a self-help group by the name, Seuji, Sobita has made it possible for the farmers in the region to access organic manure, which is now in high demand.

Ampere Electric by Hemalatha Annamalai, a company that locally manufactures electric vehicles like e-cycles, e-scooters, e-trolleys, special-purpose vehicles for waste management and differently abled people, was founded by Coimbatore-based Annamalai. Emerging as an innovative technology creator in India’s nascent e-vehicle industry, she has made a name for herself in a field that was strictly limited to male entrepreneurs.

Thinlas Chorol is the only Ladakhi woman to be trained to work in the mountaineering field; She founded the Ladakhi Women’s Travel Company in 2009 with the intention of encouraging more women to take up travelling and mountaineering, besides promoting ecotourism in Ladakh. The company is Ladakh’s first travel company wholly owned and operated by women with over 30 working staff comprising female guides, trainee guides, porters and office staff.

Planet Abled by Neha Arora was conceived in 2016 by Neha Arora after she realised that differently abled people found it difficult to travel around India. With tour packages that include special portable ramps for easier accessibility, She has managed to successfully conduct a 17-day tour that spread across two countries, five states and 13 cities, with many differently abled people, and aims to plan many more such trips. The venture employs dedicated moderators and tour guides who help the differently abled pursue their dream of travelling without any barriers.

Chayaa Nanjappa awarded the ‘National Best Entrepreneur Award’ in food processing by the Confederation of Women Entrepreneurs of India in 2014, Mysuru’s Nanjappa spearheads a rural enterprise which sources high-quality honey that is bought by people from as far as Europe and the United States. Today, Nectar Fresh, which produces monofloral honey, is one of the largest bulk suppliers and packers of honey in the country and provides a livelihood for not just illiterate communities in Mysore and Mandya districts, but also tribal communities across the state.

Ecopreneur founded by Lakshmi Menon in 2012, Pure Living (Products Upcycled Recycled and Economised) offers an eco-friendly alternative to plastic pens and wooden pencils that grow into trees when they are disposed. The venture has helped empower the elderly and differently abled women in the region and uses up-cycled paper waste from printing presses to manufacture the pens.

Indu Jain is the current chairperson of India’s largest media group, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd., which owns the Times of India and other large newspapers. She is known by many different identities such as that of a spiritualist, humanist, entrepreneur, an aficionado of culture and the arts, an educationalist but her most prominent and eminent role has been that of Chairman. Ms Jain was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in January 2016. She is also the guiding force behind The Oneness Forum, formally launched by the President of India in 2003. The Forum recently awarded the Mahatma-Mahavira Awards to outstanding individuals from all of walks of life and is involved in several activities that seek to bring, and highlight, a sense of Oneness in the world.

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw is the founder Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of Biocon Limited. She started Biocon in 1978 and spearheaded its evolution from an industrial enzymes manufacturing company to a fully integrated bio-pharmaceutical company. Today Biocon under Shaw’s leadership has established itself as a leading player in biomedicine research with a focus on diabetes and oncology. Kiran is also a member of the board of governors of the prestigious Indian School of Business and Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad. Kiran received the prestigious Padma Shri (1989) and the Padma Bhushan (2005) from the government of India.

Indra Nooyi, the most well-known face amongst Indian women entrepreneurs - is the CFO and President of PepsiCo. Beginning her career in India, Nooyi held product manager positions at Johnson & Johnson and textile firm Mettur Beardsell. Nooyi joined PepsiCo in 1994 and was named president and CFO in 2001.She has been conferred with prestigious Padma Bhushan for her business achievements and being an inspiration to India’s corporate leadership. Her strong acumen for business has helped the company garner as much as 30 billion dollars’ worth of crucial deals within the last couple of years.

Vandana Luthra VLCC, a beauty and wellness giant has its presence in 11 countries across Asia, Africa and the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) and the credit goes to Vandana Luthra. Initially, a homemaker, She started her journey in 1989 when the first of her two daughters was only 3 years-old. Born in Kolkata, West Bengal, this beauty expert got herself well versed with beauty, fitness, food and nutrition and skin care when she pursued higher education in Germany, UK and France, after completing a professional course from the Polytechnic for Women in New Delhi. She was awarded the Padma Shri in 2013 for her contribution, was listed as the 33rd most powerful woman in business in India by Fortune India in 2015.

Naina Lal Kidwai was the first Indian woman to graduate from Harvard Business School. From being Head of Investment Banking at ANZ Grindlays during 1982-1994 to Vice Chairman JM Morgan Stanley, She is one of the most successful and famous Indian business women of today. She is currently Country Head and Group General Manager HSBC Group India. Apart from working at HSBC, Kidwai has also held other eminent positions such as that of Global Advisor, Harvard Business School, non-executive director at Nestle SA and as a member of Governing Board NCAER, Auditor General of India and several other positions. Indian government conferred Padma Shri award on Naina for her contributions in the field of Trade and Industry.

Chanda Kochar is currently the MD & CEO of india’s largest private bank ICICI Bank.

The Author is a Journalist and Blogger, E Mail : femonomic@gmail.com