The seventh edition of DeloitteGlobal’s Women in the boardroom report revealed that women hold 17.1 percent of the board seats in India. Women leaders contribute skills, fresh perspectives, as well as structural and cultural diversity to the organizations, leading to more effective solutions. With a variety of perspectives, women can examine more minute details to see what is happening beneath the surface. Let’s look at the women who are playing the role of change in the business ecosystem.
Dr. Somdutta Singh, Founder and CEO, Assiduus Global Inc.- A150M+ worth AI-powered cross-border, cross-marketplace Ecommerce accelerator that launches and scales D2C brands across global E-commerce marketplaces. Dr. Singh holds a Ph.D. degree in Economics. She is a serial tech entrepreneur, best-selling author, and angel investor. She is also one of the Global Mentors at Google Launchpad and a Mentor of Change at Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), Govt. of India. Dr. Somdutta Singh has previously helmed ventures like Unspun Group, an AdTech company, and IRA – House of Designers, a crowdsourced fashion label on e-commerce and retail, which have been successfully acquired.
Sparsh Kaur, Agnext – Sparsh Kaur, AgNext’s enthusiastic Chief of Staff never settles for anything that doesn’t support the growth of ‘her people.’ As one of the founding members of AgNext, Sparsh has been instrumental in building the start-up from its inception to a 150+ people strong globally renowned agritechnology company. Ms Kaur is committed towards creating a strong foundation for an inclusive workplace for all employees. With the contribution of women in agriculture being immense but underrepresented, she is ensuring that AgNext plays a critical part in disrupting this status quo and erect structural frameworks which can identify and enable women leaders embark on enterprising journeys across the agritech sector. She believes that technology can prove to be the mighty instrument that can successfully bridge the gender gaps in the agricultural sector.
ShrutiMalani, Vice President, Centuary Mattress and Co-Founder, Beddy – With a strong background in strategy and finance, she was quickly able to take Centuary to a leadership position in exports of rubberized coir, consistently being awarded by the Government of India as the largest exporter in the category. Shruti was able to sense an opportunity in the baby/child sleep solutions segment as part of her journey collaborating with Centuary’s international clientele. Specific insights into global best practices relating to the field of the baby mattresses coupled with pediatric recommendations on the right baby mattress, led to the idea of conceptualizing the PERFECT BABY MATTRESS- safe, certified natural components, firm, waterproof and gentle to the newborn’s skin. As a result, the Idea of BEDDY culminated which gave birth to India’s first branded baby mattress. With the launch of Beddy, Shrutiventured into an entrepreneurial journey with Beddy being her Brain child. Shruti is now responsible for the Product Design and Strategy, Branding, Sales and Marketing, Research & Development for Beddy.
Roma, Founder, Burgeon Law – An entrepreneurial lawyer, mentor and startup enthusiast, Roma Priya is the Founder of Burgeon Law, a new-age one-stop legal firm that supports growth, change and innovation in India’s evolving startup ecosystem. Being the brains behind the company, she advises and mentors early-stage & high-growth startups, incubators, accelerators, angel investors, family offices, and venture capital/private equity funds. Roma has been a part of Kotak Mahindra Bank and Sandhill Counsel prior to setting up Burgeon Law. It was during this period that Roma identified the legal issues and challenges faced by new-age companies at every step. She wanted to unlock synergies between conventional legal practices and the dynamic requirements of the rapidly changing business environment in India, with a view to eventually help early-stage entrepreneurs build their businesses. This was when Roma came up with the idea of Burgeon Law, a startup-focussed firm that – with innovation and collaboration as its core pillars – provides entrepreneurs with price-sensitive and quality legal advisory and support.
Jasmine Bharucha, Katharos foods- Jasmine Bharucha , Founder & CEO, of Katharos foods, she started her journey to lead a healthy plant based lifestyle and observed the lack of good quality and affordable vegan cheese in the market. This motivated her to bring plant-based dairy alternatives for people who want a high-nutrition and affordable plant based lifestyle with Katharos. After spending years in the corporate world, she started her entrepreneurial journey with Katharos in 2019. Awarded for her efforts, Jasmine was selected among the top 5 Humane Entrepreneurs in India by HSI in 2020. Under her leadership, Katharos was named the ‘Best Vegan Cheese in India’ by PETA in 2021.
Dr. VibhaTripathi, Boon- Dr. Tripathi is the founder promoter of Swajal Water, a technology driven company with a focus on social and environmental impact with respect to drinking water. She has been the key driver behind Swajal’sIoT enabled WaterATMs and WaterCubes, commercial premium drinking water machines meant for 100+ people. Each machine is driven by an IoT mechanism designed and engineered in Swajal’s in-house R&D facility, which allows the team to send and receive key information. The company collects this data through the remotest parts of the country and has built a unique water map. This remote-control mechanism also allows management to repair and update the machines effortlessly. The latest designs for b2b allow user engagement, a QR Code phone app to check water quality in real time and a dashboard for admin to monitor their usage. Many of the designs are solar ready. In her free time, Vibha loves rustling up interesting meals, preparing for marathons, and traveling to new destinations
ShubhaRawal, Director of Sourcing and Marketing, IG International-Founded in the year 1970, IG International is one of the top fresh fruit importers in India. The brand has created a reputation for itself in this niche market where it has been present for more than 50 years. Ms. ShubhaRawal is the Director of Sourcing and Marketing at IG International. Skilled in Business Planning, International Business, Strategic Planning, Business Development, and Marketing Strategy, she has held various responsible portfolios, displaying demonstrable organizational and leadership qualities that contributed to the Company’s growth; both in terms of revenue and in establishing IG as a formidable brand globally. She has represented IG International in global trade meets and events across Europe and Asia.
Zaiba Sarang is the Co-Founder of iThink Logistics, a tech-enabled end-to-end courier aggregation service that lets clients ship and track with ease by choosing multiple courier partners on one platform. Her responsibilities include managing the entire sales wing. Representing the iThink team, Zaiba is the face of the brand.
Her desire to start a business centered around tech-powered solutions was inspired by her educational qualifications in two different disciplines – technology and business. Her computer science degree from Nagindas Khandwala College has given her a good sense of how technology works. Enhancing her business sense is a diploma in entrepreneurial studies from the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, which comes under the Goldman Sachs Women’s Executive Education Program. The Indian School of Business also gave her a certificate after she completed the Goldman Sachs 10k Women Ambassador program
Radhika Chaudhary, Co-founder & CFO, Ricron Panels Pvt. Ltd. –Radhika Chaudhary is the Co-Founder and CFO of Ricron Panels Pvt Ltd, a startup on a mission to disrupt the multi-billion dollar building materials industry by replacing outdated building materials like plywood, cement, and steel boards with a far superior product with a positive environmental impact.
“Ecosystem as a whole is becoming aware of the gender bias and gender gap in the business industry whether it is a women led startup, or lack of women in power positions in firms or equal pay. As a result of awareness, the government has also launched schemes/subsidies to encourage women owned businesses – although successful implementation is yet to be seen.With increased FDI, funds are keen on gender diversity and many such funds also track gender diversity metrics of their portfolio companies. As a result, more women are being encouraged to be part of the business ecosystem. Also awareness of gender bias has resulted in tracking of such metrics and launching of subsidies, a deeper understanding and true encouragement is required. Subsidies are there but access to subsidies is difficult. Encouragement is there but conversion into investment is difficult.”
Aanchal, Founder, an independent artist- Aanchal, Founder, an independent artist- Aanchal is a pathbreaking independent artist creating music that inspires thousands of people. She said, “I create songs that connect with the people, and this unique identity of mine has helped me gain the name and respect in the independent music industry. I am assertively making my presence in the industry by creating my own Originals & Folk Recreations. Struggle to make a mark and be differentiated from the rest can be never-ending sometimes, but I am all about Living the struggle and loving the struggle. I try to incorporate an element of mine, that could be Husk, could be folk, could be her earthy lyrical sense. Enjoying every bit of my journey, I have just begun & am happy to walk alongside music till my last breath. The struggle in the music industry for women is immense, but, despite the gender and beauty stereotypes and constraints, I believe the uniqueness of my music will help me stand out in the crowd.”
Sashwati Banerjee, Founder, Top Parent-Sashwati is a social development professional with over three decades of experience in organizational leadership, media, & communication for change. Incubated under the Entrepreneur in Residence program at Central Square Foundation, she has recently founded Nudged Trust & Humanitus Learning Solutions to provide an open-source, free mobile app to help low-income community families support their young children’s development at home.
She said, “According to Global Gender Report, it will take another century to close the gender-equality gap for female entrepreneurs. Multiple studies have demonstrated that women founders bring high emotional intelligence on the table and are better at creating a positive environment in challenging workplace scenarios. By creating equal opportunities for women entrepreneurs to thrive, organisations and investors are now responding to it. But there is still a large gap – where the ecosystem needs to apply a gender lens and design initiatives and spaces that promotes women entrepreneurship.”
Shabnum Khan, Founder, 750 AD Healthcare and Mandrake Mydia- Shabnum Khan is an entrepreneur who carries an undying zeal to lead dynamic startups like Mandrake Mydia and 750AD Healthcare Pvt. Ltd. She said, “In light of all the challenges associated with being a woman and attempting to succeed as an entrepreneur, the determination with which women who do so is absolutely admirable. We as a society and system can help them succeed in their entrepreneurial endeavors by firstly encouraging and sharing the campaigns across all media channels that spotlight successful women entrepreneurs and their achievements beyond all odds. This helps them in gaining the much-needed support for the growth of their brand. Secondly, the startup mentorship and funding programs must offer flexible training programs for working women who often miss out on learning opportunities due to personal commitments. As a society we need to build an infrastructure that is more accessible for the working women in the country.”
Swetha Guhan – Co-Founder, Director – Product Development and Government Programs, Key Education Foundation- Swetha is the Co-founder at Key Education Foundation [KEF] – a not for profit aimed at ensuring quality early childhood education for children from low-income communities in India. She said, “Today, women play a crucial role in driving businesses, and they will continue to drive change for years to come. It is evident from the increasing participation of women in leading roles across the startup ecosystem with more power and voice. This in a way is creating newer lenses to view the landscape of women’s potential in driving newer business ideas and developments. The start-up space has adopted much of the corporate vocabulary for growth – ‘fail-fast win big’, ‘aggressive growth’, and ‘pro-risk’. Especially in the space of social entrepreneurship, one has to rethink how we view impact and decision-making and stay cognizant of all the stakeholders including young adults, and their sensitivities. In this space, women leaders have been far more innovative in making more measured and inclusive decisions that not only consider the employees of the company but deeply impact the nuanced understanding and needs of stakeholders involved. We must expand our view of traditional leadership traits. In the words of Jacinda Arden – “I refuse to believe that you cannot be both compassionate and strong”.”
Priyanka Chaudhary Raina, Co-Founder, maate – “Women entrepreneurship offers a viable pathway to create jobs and fuel India’s economic development. It is known to have a multiplier effect by leading a translational impact on the lives of future generations in terms of conscious reproductive choices, better access to education and high-quality healthcare facilities. However, only 20% of enterprises are women-led, which speaks volumes about the state of women’s entrepreneurship in the country. Gendered stereotypes of women as the primary household makers, lack of proper funding avenues and weak institutional support mechanisms are the primary impediments for women to take up entrepreneurship. The need of the hour is to create an enabling ecosystem to give wings to the dreams of aspiring women entrepreneurs. Access to customised financial products for women, strengthening capacity building through mentoring and business opportunities and fostering a culture of celebrating role models in the field will go a long way in mainstreaming women’s entrepreneurship in India.”
Ridhhi Sanghi, Director & Head, People Success, TurboHire:“Women entrepreneurs have long been the backbone of our country, well before entrepreneurship became a catchy word. Women have run small businesses in agriculture, catering, clothing and animal husbandry across the length and breadth of India, and yet, so many of their contributions have been erased. Women have all the talent and grit that anyone could ask for – what they’ve been lacking for a long time is a start. At TurboHire we’re proud to do our part through equitable hiring and strong exposure to the fundamentals of how an organization is run. On this Women Entrepreneurship Day, we’d like to appreciate all the women founders out there who have worked through obstacles to make an impact. We’d also like to cheer on the entrepreneurs-in-training, those who are currently either nursing ideas or testing them out – we see you, and we see your talent. And we know you can make it.”
Manjari Sharma, Co-Founder & CPO, FreightFox: ‘We are witnessing a long-overdue wave of female entrepreneurial power rising to the top. Manufacturing and logistics is a male-dominated space – at FreightFox, we’re proud to show young women that they too can make big contributions to logistics. On Women Entrepreneurship Day, we want to appreciate all the female founders out there and urge more women to enter the entrepreneurship space. Whether they’re building a logistics platform, a campaign management tool or a water filtration device, their ideas matter and their voice matters. At FreightFox, women are being identified and acknowledged as potent talent and are breaking the proverbial glass ceilings. We also want to reiterate our commitment to helping our female team members and colleagues succeed, thereby inspiring them to become the leaders of tomorrow”
Shalini Nair, Co-Founder and Board Director, Ennoventure Inc: ‘For far too long, women have been told that careers in tech and business are not for them. At Ennoventure, we’re proud to be one of a growing number of women-led tech businesses that are changing the game. We’d like to appreciate our fellow female entrepreneurs today and encourage young girls and women with big dreams to pursue them. Good technology has no gender – the next great idea can come from anywhere. After centuries in the shadows, we’re proud and happy to see the number of female executives and business leaders take centre stage and deliver solutions that are getting the attention they deserve.’