On 23rd May,2017, “Dhriiti – The Courage Within” and Cherie Blair Foundation For Women(CBFW) concluded phase I of their program “WE CAN India”, a six week Business Plan competition for Women Entrepreneurs of North India. Out of 150 women entrepreneurs across northern states of India, 26 have been selected who will receive incubation support for coming 4 months. Refer to Dhriiti’s Facebook to find about of all selected women.
CBFW has working in India since many years, has touched and empowered lives of numerous women though its initiatives. CBFW is founded by Cherie Blair, former First Lady of United Kingdom.
Highlights of the conference
There was conference in American centre, US Embassy, New Delhi which was formal introduction of Cherie Blair to seven of the selected entrepreneurs. Mary Jay Carlson, Chargé d’Affaires at US Embassy New Delhi was another dignified women present at the conference. Along with these women, there were people present from other diversified backgrounds also. After ideas presentation and customary talk, came the time of Q&A. That part was most interesting in the conference.
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People from UK wanted to understand “How is the women empowerment changing in India?”. There was a long, heated, emotional and eye-opener discussion on “Hurdles faced by women in the process of designing, launching and running a new business“.
Based on the discussion that followed, women entrepreneur could be broadly classified as follows .
- For Mompreneurs (Mother- cum-entrepreneur), there is mixed support from families. While some families were very supportive, lot of women had to struggle a lot. Interesting finding came out , women after motherhood were given more freedom to pursue their entrepreneur dreams if they were managing household responsibilities well with work.
- For Unmarried-women: Rini Bankwal, founder of Tribana.in was vocal about hurdles faced by single women. She narrate from her personal experience, when she approached clients & investors, they often judge her on the basis of her unmarried state. They fear about future course of her business when she will get married, they dismay putting money in such ventures.
- For Married but yet-to-be-mothers: This category have less women entrepreneurs and the reason being family expectation to turn into mother ASAP. I personally know one women, who is married for 4 years, starting her own business and facing family pressure, “When will she become mother, itne saal ho gaye shaadi ko. Agar apna business karna hai to karo, lekin pehle mother bano”. They may be in crucial phase for setting up their business, but most of the times, society and family is very harsh towards them. This leads to lot of depression and de-motivation for these women cherishing setting up business.
Cherie Blair, concluded conference by urging male members to come forward and support their wives in entrepreneurial journey.
Presentation of Women Entrepreneurs
7 women entrepreneurs from top 26 selected for incubation, presented their business idea in a unique way in front of Cheire Blair foundation members and public. Lets know who these interesting personalities are and what their creative mind is upto.
Kiran Negi, from Loafer Jama
Loafer Jama, founded in 2016, is ” a boho chic lifestyle store selling trendy and comfortable clothes, stylish accessories, home furnishings, and art & collectibles. The label’s products capture the essence of India’s vibrant past, and its chaotic present.” Kiran was the showstopper of the event. She demonstrated her products in unique way. She changed her dressing style from “work wear” to “family get-together” to “classy event wear” within seconds in front of crowd. I think, every one present there will remember her for long time.
Riuparna Ghosh, YourStoryBag:
YourstoryBag is an initiative to encourage story telling among all age groups from children to adults. They are helping people cultivating story telling skills and have various programs to include all spheres of life. Stories from old people like grandparents are documented for remembrance.
Rituparna, was very confident in her presentation in front of audience. She also got lot of ideas from crowd present. Even Cheire Blair could co-relate to need for such initiative.
Sonal Singh, White Cub Ice-cream
Sonal Singh’s venture is first of its kind initiative in India. Many cases are arising in India, where people are allergic to milk products. Her startup is about Ice-cream which is milk free, it consists of Soya. Thus, ice-cream produced by her can be enjoyed by milk-allergic people also. Sonal is also part IIT Dellhi WEE Foundation batch I member and won Rs. Five lakh as cash prize in that course. WE Can initiative acted as catalyst for Sonal to overcome her fears for Financial part of her business,
Rini Bankwal, Tribana.in
Tribana is into creating and sourcing 100% handcrafted products, created using 100% sustainable processes, delivered in 100% ecologically responsible packaging. They work with marginalized craft artisans and creating Glocal(global+local) community. They are trying to help craft artisans by giving them livelihood and global platform. Rini was the only unmarried women present in the group present there. She is successful and facing prejudice at every step.
Romita Ghosh, Admirus.in and Medsamaan.com
Advanced Medical instruments and devices are available and in easy reach of big hospitals and city doctors. But, same cannot be said for small town doctors, villages and Aanganwadi workers. Medsamaan.com is an initiative which aims to make these high end products available to local/small town doctors at some convenient monthly packages. “WE CAN” program has boosted confidence of Romita and motivated her to continue her work with new purpose and zeal.
Surekha Waldia, e-shiksha chaupal
E-Shiksha Chaupal is creating online community for teachers where they can learn new teaching strategies, connect with educators online and share their experiences. This platform also serves as online database for teachers to record their activities, lesson plans, monitor their progress and principals to find their next school teacher. This is an social initiative, aimed to bridge gap between rural and urban teaching methods. Surekha has started this platform after launching another platform, ELNA-“A new model for learning”.
Sagarika Gandhi, AGPulse Organics
Sagarika has started an organization which will benefit all citizens of the country. This organization is manufacturing organic and herbal insecticides, pesticides, manures and growth promoter for plants. In addition, they are also manufacturing herbal feed supplement for animals. In their social initiative, they aim to conserve indigenous cattle and integrate them into the overall developmental pathway of the rural farmers and especially the small holders.
Above mentioned diverse business ideas and women are small part out of all women whose lives have been touched by the program. For more information about the program, contact: Dhriiti Foundation
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