“There’s something so special about a woman who dominates in a man’s world. It takes a certain grace, strength, intelligence, fearlessness, and the nerve to never take no for an answer,” said Rihanna, the worldwide superstar who has received seven Grammy Awards and sold over 50 million albums and 190 million digital tracks.
Women today have changed the age-old dynamics of the workforce. Taking over not only the start-up industry, but these women are also bridging the gender gap of men-women in leadership positions at organizations. Women born between 1980 and 1995 – represent a part of millennial shepreneurs. As per a recent report by PWC, women are becoming a larger and larger part of the global talent pool. Making a huge shift from regular jobs of teacher and personal assistants just a few years ago, Millennial women today are venturing as Shepreneures. The millennial’s love for technology has opened avenues and opportunities beyond one’s imagination. There is an underlying yearning to make a mark for them in the industry and also stand above the competition.
Indian economy is growing at a greater pace than ever before and swift change is taking place in the mindsets of people for women to go out for work or to be an entrepreneur. However, the changes are minute and women still alarmingly underrepresented and not equally treated in this male dominating world. Even with these challenges, there are some fire brand women entrepreneurs who have the vision of transformation and changing the perception of male supremacy, zeal to endure their brand, startup in the male-dominant sector like logistics, cruising, retail, acting and many more and also, trailblazing the way for the next generation of women leaders to come.
Here’s a look at some of the feisty women entrepreneurs and their success stories –
Divya Jain – bringing hope to the ambitious youth in rural India
Entrepreneurship is all about bringing a social impact with bright sparks of an idea and unperturbed perseverance. The story of Divya Jain, Founder and CEO of Safeducate, India’s largest training, skilling and consulting firm that specializes in the domains of Supply Chain Management & Logistics, is a shining beacon of the same.
Divya pursued professional education from the premier institutes in India and across the globe. However, destined to bring about greater social good, Divya had a change of heart post her wedding, when she joined Safexpress, India’s largest logistics and supply chain firm, run by her father-in-law, Pawan Jain and husband, Rubal Jain. As she was spearheading the training division, she became acutely aware of the existing skill gaps in the logistics and supply chain workforce. That acted as a strong impetus in Divya deciding to launch her training and skill consulting firm, Safeducate.
As the Founder and CEO, Divya was determined to mobilise the masses and bring awareness on the logistics and SCM being the sunrise sector, especially for the ambitious youth in rural India. In addition to holding regular walk-ins, Safeducate has also been reaching out to the youth in the nearby community through mobilization drives.
The venture has today grown to set up 150 centres across India and the trained counsellors at Safeducate visit households, and with the help of the Panchayat and local authorities, talk to students and parents to inspire prospective youth in the age group of 18-35 to learn the skills required for a good job in the supply chain and logistics space. Having trained over 50,000 individuals, Safeducate has also joined hands with the government to work on skill development projects in states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, and Orissa.
Safeducate also has a full-fledged in-house placement cell and has so far been associated with 100+ companies to facilitate a robust placement process including TCI, Big Bazaar, Flipkart, Jabong, Metro and KFC.
Revathi Roy Pioneer – Asia’s First Women’s Taxi Service – Forsche, & Viira
Roy wears many caps. Besides, being a social entrepreneur, she is the winner of NITI Aayog’s Women, Transforming India Award 2016 and was featured on the cover of Forbes India’s first issue of W Power Trailblazers.
Roy’s business is about real time logistics and last mile delivery service. The business domain she is part of is dominated by male as last mile delivery agents are always men. It was to bring in a change that she introduced the concept of women to take this up as a profession. Roy herself drove a cab for 10 months way back in the year 2007 and phenomenally broke the glass ceiling.
The challenges were multiple in Roy’s path. “Convincing the girls and their families that this can become a profession for them and secure earnings of 10-11000 INR per month, was a tremendous ordeal. However, the fact that once they skill themselves, then they can acquire an asset worth 60k–70k because they get a job with us helped us win them over,” divulged Roy who plans to employ 1 lakh women in next 5 years.
Roy feels it imperative to create a social fabric where it becomes essential for women to get out of the house. Availability of more opportunities is another prerequisite for her to facilitate further entrepreneurship among women.
Priti Rathi Gupta – breaking glass ceiling as woman entrepreneur in Financial and Commodity Markets
Priti Rathi Gupta is the Managing Director & Promoter at Anand Rathi Share and Stock Brokers Ltd. prior to which she founded and headed Anand Rathi Commodities Ltd, a member of leading commodity exchanges in India and abroad viz. NCDEX, MCX, DGCX & NCDEX Spot, etc. She has been has been actively associated with Anand Rathi Group since the year 2004. An alumnus of the Harvard Business School, Gupta has also completed a Post Graduate Programme in Family Managed Business from the reputed S. P. Jain Institute of Management and Research.
With an experience of almost three decades in the investments and trading domain, Priti has evolved to be the Leading Woman entrepreneur in Financial and Commodity Markets in India. Having set up Anand Rathi Commodities Ltd in the year 2004, she leads a team of 250 professionals operating in India and Dubai serving in the areas of Commodity Trading, Currency Trading, Hedging, Forex Advisory & Consulting. She further upped the game by setting up the currency/forex advisory, Anand Rathi Advisors Ltd in the year 2010. Being a member of the National Executive Committee of CPAI (Commodity Participants Association of India) she’s actively involved in policy making.
A woman of multi-fold talents and passions, Priti’s flair for story-telling and building stories that transcend times, has enabled her to pursue her dreams and start-up her own film production venture called Ishka Films Private Limited in 2013.
Gauri Singhal – building a 100-crore turnover consumer brand
Gauri Singhal, Founder and CEO of FLOH Tampons, a brand by Visionaari Ltd. started working at the age of 23 when all her peers were busy clubbing and exploring newer destinations. Fresh out of college with a Master’s degree from London Business Schoo, UK, Gauri built a consumer brand and a family venture Sharp Foods in the staples category to a 100-crore turnover consumer brand in a span of 3 years. Driven by a strong desire for entrepreneurship and striving to make a difference in the cluttered start-up ecosystem, she launched FLOH Tampons in May 2018.
Swarna Chitrakar – Painting the path to empowerment
Born at Naya, of Paschim Medinipur in West Bengal, Swarna Chitrakar belongs to a family of Patuas. Like any other member of her village Swarna started painting early in her childhood and took the initial training from her late father Amar Chitrakar and later from the celebrated Patua, Dukhushyam Chitrakar. The Patuas are scroll painters of a traditional art form called Patachitra from Bengal where the painters sing the story as they unfurl their scrolls. Earlier the artists mostly painted because they were passionate about the art form without it being commercially viable, and were often beleaguered with severe penury.
Swarna’s story was no different. Her parents marry her off early adding to her misery. Unable to bear the abuse and disgrace, young Swarna came back to her native village and started reviving her skills at a Patachitra artist. That was the beginning of a new life and Swarna never looked back. Her talent and grit for success have open new vistas making her a celebrated artist travelling the length and breadth of the country and abroad.
Art pieces by Swarna have made their place in distinguished galleries of the world and also as decor pieces for art collectors’. She is now a global citizen and is often seen at the art exhibitions or cultural exchange programs in France, Germany, London or China. “I have participated at all the important art festivals in France, Germany, Australia, USA, Sweden, China, London. Art collectors and appreciators visit my village regularly to buy my paintings or learn the techniques of Patachitra painting,” enthused Swarna who has been invited by universities all over the word to share her success story as an woman entrepreneur and artist.
Today Swarna is a role model for her village. She has motivated many of her fellow village women to pursue their careers in Patachitra. Like a true leader she is guiding the young artists of her village in running collective business enterprises based on Patachitra art and diversified products made from it.
Lovely Bibi’s Art for livelihood
Lovely Bibi’s story as an entrepreneur is replete with inspiration. A victim of child marriage, Lovely had a tough life. However, her fate had further perils in store. One day her husband was diagnosed with insanity and was laid off from the small government job. Eventually the pension stopped and the entire family was in abject poverty. Lovely had only one option left – making her mere hobby, her livelihood!
Lovely decided to tide over the crisis by taking art based entrepreneurship. Birbhum of West Bengal being a hub of Kantha-weaving, Lovely was a skilled Kantha weaver since childhood.
She polished and perfected her basic skills and joined and completed Rural Craft Hub (RCH) trainings. Eventually she also participated in capacity building programs in her village and also in Kolkata. Once confident, Lovely participated in Women Social Entrepreneurship Development Programmes in Kolkata which improved her understanding and aptitude as an entrepreneur. It was in 2012 that the fighter woman from Nanoor launched her initiative, Lovely’s Creations.
Today Lovely has tasted her share of success. From saree, dress materials, lifestyle products, to jewellery, home decor items, furnishing – Lovely sports a huge repertoire of products. Her customers include art aficionados from America, France Germany.
“It was sheer hard work at first. The business took time to gather steam. I had to constantly keep myself updated on the latest design techniques and market trends. Creating market linkage was a sheer challenge as I lacked in communication skills. However, I had no option but to do everything possible to make my venture work and I think I finally have done it,” asserted a spirited Lovely Bibi who now enjoys robust market-linkages with more than 10 shops in her area and also in Kolkata and other Indian cities.