India has a population of around 1.2 billion people out of which women comprise 48.51 of the population. The ‘India Development Report’ by World Bank2, however, states that India has one of the lowest female participation rates in the workforce; it merely stands at 27%, whereas countries like China and Brazil boasts of good participation rates somewhere in between 65-70%. To address this, India has mega plans to add 110 million people to its labor force in the next ten years, and that would include a good proportion of women as well. A report by McKinsey Global Institute3 suggests if India can increase women's labor force participation by ten percentage points (68 million more women) by 2025, India could increase its GDP by 16%.
Women have tremendous potential to excel at work, but they also have to endure several financial and social hurdles that deprive them of a fair chance to be a part of the workforce. Taking a break post marriage or child-birth and taking care of the family members, are some of the reasons women cannot join work as freely as their male counterparts. To address this concern, there are many organizations that have been working towards women empowerment by making the ecosystem and business environment more inclusive for them. These organizations are supporting women in many ways such as helping them join and re-join the workforce after a break, making them more viable for hiring, acting as mentors for them to step into the corporate space or providing safety measures to them when they are out to work. These organizations are guided by the passion for working for women, for providing them with ample opportunities to march ahead. Let’s have a look at some of the start-ups which are supporting women in interesting ways:
Sairee Chahal founded SHEROES in January 2014. Initially, it was a job portal dedicated exclusively to women job seekers. Today the company has evolved into a full-fledged women's community platform, which supports women in their aspirations through conversations and constructive engagement on Sheroes.com and the SHEROES app. In the career space, women can actively seek support by engaging in their Career Guidance community, through one-on-one counselling on the SHEROES app and via interactive AMA sessions with expert women from various career paths - from entrepreneurship to data analytics and tech fields. On the enterprise side, they offer diversity-focused consulting and recruitment. Additionally, they have launched two products which are: SHE, that focuses on making workplaces safer and inclusive via POSH training, compliance and a helpline. Secondly, MARS - which is a remote work product that bridges the gap between the work-from-home force in the community and businesses looking to outsource meaningful work. Recently, SHEROES has acquired Delhi-based mothers’ community Babygogo, a community of mothers seeking information and support around baby care and well-being. SHEROES aims to emerge as the world’s most transformative women’s product, with a vision to touch the lives of 100 million women in the next five years.
Driven by the goal to help women learn and grow, Neha Bagaria founded JobsForHer in 2015. It is a connecting portal for women who wish to restart their careers after a break. Whether the break was for life events like marriage, motherhood, elderly care, or other personal reasons, JobsForHer helps women’s career get back on track. The portal connects women to a range of job options, reputed companies, and curated experts. It also focuses on women’s self-development and the pursuit of happiness, by offering information on career development, entrepreneurship, managing work and family, successful women, women’s health, social issues and personal finances. JobsForHer operates in a pan-India mode with a focus on Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi, and Chennai. JobsForHer is currently seeing traction of 50,000 visitors per month with approximately 2.50 lakh monthly page-views. In its first year in lean-startup mode and operating out of Bengaluru, JobsForHer got associated with more than 750 companies, including Barclays, Capgemini, Citi, EY, Sapient, Dell, Mindtree, PayPal, Intuit, etc. JobsForHer is aimed at arming women, not just with jobs but also helping them in bridging the ‘gap’ through career-related services such as mentorship, resume-writing assistance, second career counseling, confidence building workshops, skills upgradation, and networking opportunities, to enable them to successfully re-enter the workforce.
HerSecondInnings was founded by Manjula Dharmalingam and Madhuri Kale in November 2014. It is a platform to build gender-diversity in organizations. The platform consists of a national network of accomplished women professionals, with over 50 years of collective in-depth industry experience in various fields. The platform also helps women discover the jobs best suited for her experience and skill sets. Over 2,000 women have been accessing the portal for job options as well as for coaching to help develop their skills as well as better understand their options. There are e-coaching sessions as well, which women can attend online. HerSecondInnings has a presence in Bengaluru and Mumbai, and offer ‘work from home’ options, temporary assignments, permanent jobs, projects and consultancy and entrepreneurial opportunities. HerSecondInnings also help organizations improve their diversity and inclusion programmes by running assessment surveys and women leadership programmes.
Dr Saundarya started the online platform called AVTAR I-WIN in 2005. It was one of the very first systems which were exclusively set up to help women re-enter the workplace. It organizes counselling sessions, career-entry programmes, skill-building and networking sessions, second career as well as early career recruitment. With employee strength of 75, AVTAR I-WIN has helped 8,000 women get back to work after a career break. Today, Dr Saundarya travels extensively speaking at various conferences and forums on the benefits and importance of engaging with women on career breaks. The AVTAR I-WIN network has grown to about 40,000 women professionals and is today a destination not only for women professionals but also for organizations that want to leverage this gender inclusive talent strategy4. Several organizations have started offering critical roles to women after a break. Organisations such as Hindustan Unilever, Axis Bank, Godrej, Goldman Sachs, Axis Bank, Fidelity, HCL, Godrej, Philips, and Microsoft have also started their exclusive second career programmes.
The Safetipin app was created and launched by Kalpana Viswanath and Ashish Basu in 2013 with the main purpose of providing safety to people especially women when they are out and alone. Safetipin is an application which works by asking users for a “safety audit.” This involves taking photographs of blocks they pass by and rating how safe they feel: from 1 (poor in safety perception) to 5 (excellent). SafetiPin provides night-time GIS data and tools for safer and inclusive cities. Available on Android and iOS platforms, Safetipin allows a person to mark a location safe or unsafe, and also helps to find the safest route to a destination based on safety scores of the areas on that route. For as long as the app runs in the smartphone of a passenger, he/she will receive an alert when he/she enters an unsafe location. It also enables friends and family to keep track of her/ his journey. The safety score of a location is calculated based on many parameters, which include light, open, visibility, crowd, security, path, transport, space and feeling. The app is doing well, in New Delhi, Viswanath said that they reported around 8,400 areas that lack lighting at night in 2015. By the first quarter of 2017, the city had illuminated more than 6,000 of these areas5
bookmybai.com, founded by Anupam Singal and Vikash Chowdhury, promises to provide people, reliable housemaids. This startup is helpful for the families especially to women where they need support in managing household chores. Apart from cleaning maids, this site also provides maids for babysitting, elderly care, and cooking. Online service bookmybai.com has a database of nearly 12,000 domestic help who are ready for employment. Business is booming as the company claims to be successful in placing 500 domestic bits of help in Mumbai every month. While it helps the families who need such maids, it also helps the thousands of women to earn by working part-time and therefore leading to women empowerment. The company operates in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Surat, and Pune, but with an estimated four million domestic help in India, it's a huge market that is still untapped.
Founded by Vishnu Saraf and Megha More, Truweight Wellness Private Limited provides weight loss counselling. Its programme provides users with customized plans that include nutrition mentoring for weight loss. The startup’s mobile app connects clients to personal dieticians for real-time counselling and provides users access to the firm’s food products, which are available across the country. Truweight has around 30 food products made with over 25 ingredients such as spirulina, barley grass, alfalfa grass, acacia gum, herbs, and foxtail millet, to name a few. As part of the company’s growth strategy, Truweight plans to double the staff count to 400 employees across technology, marketing, and sales functions. Truweight will also be hiring an additional 100 dieticians, to meet the requirements of the growing customer base, which will cross the 10 lakh mark in a span of two years6. The company had earlier raised its Series A funding round from venture capital firm Kalaari Capital in May 2015. Recently, weight management services firm Truweight has received interim venture debt funding from Blacksoil Capital7.
- Woman in Labour Force: India
- New World Bank Report
- The Power of Parity: Advancing Women's Equality In India
- Dr Saundarya Rajesh is helping 1000s of women restart their career
- Not sure which streets are safe? This app will guide you
- Truweight to set up weight loss centres across 10 cities in 2 years
- Exclusive: BlackSoil Capital invests $771K in three startups