How do you see the emergence of women entrepreneurs in India?
Business even today is fairly male dominated especially at the leadership level with less than ten percent of enterprises being started by women. But there are definitely more women who are a part of the workforce and I feel that is amazing. Companies and industries are realizing that there are certain roles that can be better done by women-whether it be content development, research and development, connecting with customers and working through their issues, to name a few. In fact a very interesting Harvard research actually shows how the collective IQ of a group increases when a woman is introduced into the mix as they improve group dynamics by better communication and understanding.
Do you think that liberalization of economy has played an important factor in the increasing number of women entrepreneurs?
The liberalization of the economy has definitely contributed in changing the traditional mindset of the women being the sole caregiver in a family. But even more instrumental has been the increased access of internet and mobile technology. It allows women to be better informed even if they are not a part of the formal workforce.
What reasons do you see behind the women rising to the top in key sectors?
I do see women rising to the top in sectors, like for example banking, healthcare, PR, education. These sectors are fairly professional, with great working conditions, well laid out policies, clear mandates for growth and most importantly, they actually have policies to address needs of working women like maternity leave, day-care or working from home. There are, however, a host of sectors that by their very nature are less conducive for women to grow like construction, mining, logistics even. As industry and businesses mature and become more streamlined I feel there would be a lot more opportunities for women to grow beyond the current glass ceilings.
How did the idea come to your mind of starting your own venture?
I was working with our family concern, Safexpress since 2007 which is India’s largest Supply chain and logistics company. I spent considerable time and energy on developing human resources and in training them to meet our needs and requirements. As a part of the supply chain industry, I saw the tremendous need for trained manpower and the efficiencies that it would bring for the industry. Reports by NSDC have placed this requirement at 20 million people by 2022. As someone passionate about education, it was the perfect opportunity for me to start Safeducate and really make a difference.
What problems or challenges, according you, women face while they start their journey as an entrepreneur? How can they overcome them?
Entrepreneurship is a journey riddled with self-doubt. Being a woman, it is compounded multi-fold as most people don’t really take you seriously starting out. There is always an apprehension that you might stop or abandon it in the middle because you’ll
get married or have a child. The only way to get over it is to walk the talk. Work harder, do more, demand more and show the world you mean business. Also have a plan; before starting out create a business plan on an excel sheet with your numbers and variables taken into account and then follow it.
What tips would you like to give to other women who wish to be an entrepreneur?
I’d say be extremely passionate about whatever you decide to do. You will still need to look after your family, your house and your kids. You need to really love your work to able to do it justice. Also have clearly, defined, measurable goals and milestones that you should systematically work towards achieving. But honestly Steve Jobs says it best, “Stay hungry, Stay foolish.”