Startups have taken the Indian economy by a storm, especially after the ‘Startup India’ campaign by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. These startups are not just avenues to buy and sell goods and services, but a path to development and lifestyle change; be it getting service quality reviews of any restaurant or cafe on Zomato, and being free from the exploitation of local auto wallas and cab drivers by opting for services of Ola or Jugnoo at affordable cost. Start-ups have also resulted in the empowerment of women entrepreneur in India by the subsequent development and enforcement of financial availability schemes.
The Startup India scheme itself provides loans to women at a lower rate. Besides, there are other monetary incentives schemes which have helped women from all over India in entering the start-up race, such as Annapurna Scheme, Street Shakti Package, Bharatiya Mahila Bank, Dena Shakti Scheme, etc. Hillary Clinton once said, “Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world,” which is exactly the outcome of these schemes. There has been a whopping 60% increase with respect to women finding opportunities to start ventures.
These emerging women entrepreneurs include Radhika Ghai Aggarwal, co-founder of the fashion website Shopclues; Anisha Singh who founded MyDala, which is one of the largest discount and coupon platforms in India; Sabina Chopra who is one of the founders of Yatra.com, one of the largest travel-related website, Neeru Sharma who co-founded Infibeam, a retail online store; Richa Kar who co-founded one of India’s biggest online lingerie retail store- Zivame; Upasana Taku who founded not one but two payment gateway- MobiKwik and Zaapkay; Suchi Mukherjee who run Limeroad, a boutique based online fashion marketplace; Sairee Chahal, founder of Sheroes.in, a web portal for like-minded women to connect.
In recent news, fifteen women have been selected by Zone Startups India for its ‘empoWer’ accelerator programme for women entrepreneurs in tech businesses. This programme was started in April 29th 2016, and the biggest value-add that “empoWer’ has brought is to help the selected entrepreneurs build a solid network of mentors, industry experts, partners, investors and peer group.
The programme follows the belief that having a strong and diverse network helps businesses grow in different ways. Also, the 15 entrepreneurs going through this program will continue to remain associated with Zone Startups India accelerator program for 24 months, as per their policy. For the first 12-months immediately post-program, women entrepreneur will be hand-held on an ongoing basis, and their milestones tracked and will continue to get support to develop industry and investor connect.
Some of the women entrepreneurs expanded their business beyond the territory of India and went to the U.S.A to find success. They are Trisha Roy, founder of Barn & Willow, a customised drapes and panels store based in the U.S.A, which offers these linens at a cheap rate by cutting the cost of middlemen; Rituparna Panda, co-founder of Fulfil.IO, a system that could replace the old ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems and could use the cloud to track inventory and orders on multiple platforms, both online and offline, and Yosha Gupta, founder of Lafalafa, coupon website which started out in Hong Kong. The success of these three women entrepreneur helped them to get noticed by ‘500 Startups’, which is a California-based accelerator.
India has seen a generation of women-run businesses or women serving as top management executives in companies such as ICICI Bank’s Chanda Kochar, Axis Bank’s Shikha Sharma, IBM’s Vanitha Narayanan, Omidyar Network’s Roopa Kudva, etc. Women of the current generation are also not far behind in making their mark as entrepreneurs. However, the struggle for a level playing field still persists.
A piece of advice given by Swati Bhargava, co-founder of Cashkaro.com, a cashback and coupons website; “My advice to women entrepreneur would be to forget that you are women, that’s not even important. If you have a business idea that you can think can be big, go for it.” Similarly, Pranshu Patni, co-founder of an educational app company, Culture Alley, advised “to detach yourself from your gender while making a pitch to the investors” and to “not undermine other women.”
As seen in the stories of these women entrepreneur, their mantra to success that they never let the fact that they are women hold them back in any way, in fact, they got empowered because they are women.