Humans have always had a tendency to divide work on the lines of gender differences. Over the years this has led to accumulation of a significant amount of ‘productive’ or economically motivated work under the domain of the male gender. Traditionally, humans have been comfortable in appropriating the household or ‘unproductive work’ to girls and women of different ages. A phenomenon which has transcended regional or geographical boundary is slowly but certainly feeling the winds of change erode the archaic structures. With the evolution of the economic system, more opportunities are becoming available to humans who have to the scope to access them. And this access to opportunities is being constantly redefined because women across the globes are using the ecosystem to their advantage to realise their dreams. From homemakers to management graduates, women from diverse backgrounds are now nurturing their passion and creative pursuits to turning them into a working reality. They are pushing the boundaries of viable economic ideas by constantly innovating and breaking free from the traditional roles. And they are leaving an indelible mark on the nation's economy with their ideas and hard work. Looking closely at such experiences we chart the growth of women entrepreneurs in India.
With an increasing access to enablers like education, health services and technology, women across India are slowly walking towards self empowerment and are working towards the change they want to see in the world around them. And there are some who are leading this change. Organisations like SHEROES.in with Sairee Chahal as a founder and CEO is a career portal targeting women seeking new careers. Open to women from all walks of professional life, the start-up offers mentorship, career related resources, content and advice across various work formats like flex work options, entrepreneurial work options, internships, projects etc. Sharing her journey, Sairee Chahal explains, “It was tough convincing everyone that women’s careers matter and that small changes can make big impact when it comes to gender diversity, remote work, entrepreneurship and women in leadership. However, I worked on a pilot for women on career break, to identify flex work options, work from home or those who were looking for more friendly opportunities. And slowly but surely these efforts evolved into what SHEROES.in is today.
People like Mehaa Seth Marwah, Co-founder, Modspace.in have had similar journey in challenging gender stereotypes. “Although not every startup entrepreneur requires an investor to get his/her business financed and get off the grounds, for a women entrepreneur, the pitching process for raising capital can definitely be stressful. Moreover, for a woman entrepreneur starting a business and simultaneously running the family, maintaining a work-life balance can be very challenging. There is a perception prevailing that they could be more effective in running a business if they don't have to deal with family responsibilities” explained Mehaa. Her company Modspace.in, is an online furniture company for delivering internationally designed modular kitchens and home goods specifically customized to suit varied tastes and lifestyles. Others have been able to successfully tap into the recent movement towards Equal Opportunities. Stating the benefits of a condusive business environment, Ms. Sakshi Vij, Founder & CEO of Myles, one of India’s leading self-drive service offered by Carzonrent India Pvt. Ltd. (CIPL) said, “The current business environment gives an equal opportunity to all entrepreneurs. Startup is a mindset and though it has been only 2 years since we started it seems like we have come a long. Our journey has been a mixed bag of success, challenges & learning.” Started in November 2013 with 14 cars and 3 locations has now grown to over 1000 cars and 200 locations with presence in 21 cities.
But the ride has not always been so comfortable for women to see themselves as successful entreprenuers. With a constant questioning of their ability to perform, most get dissuaded to take their ideas forward. So shares Shaifali Holani, Founder & CEO of EasyFix.in, “For me EasyFix was never a build-it-sell-it business, my objective was, as it is today, to run a successful people’s organization & make it profitable. Once I was ready with my MVP “Minimum Viable Product” I started looking for funding and realized people would not accept how a woman without a tech or IIT/M background or be running the business alone? Today when I connect the dots I feel grateful to how I have been able to overcome and learn with every failure.” EasyFix today stands as a pioneer in maintenance and repairing service for homes and offices. Its core business model operates as a ‘One Call Home Repairs Service’ to resolve household maintenance problems with professional expertise, complete reliability and convenience.
With a constant move towards a gender balanced workforce, the ecosystem is evolving to realise the potential of women to redefine their boundaries and drive their envisioned change.