These #3 Women are Empowering Their Clan through Entrepreneurship
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Experiences and instances say that women entrepreneurs view the world through a different lens, hence, execute things differently. Be it Gabrielle Bonheur ‘Coco’ Chanel, Founder of Coco Chanel, whose childhood knowledge as a seamstress has created history or Estée Lauder, who created a business empire out of her enthusiasm for skincare tips or Oprah Winfrey, whose entrepreneurial endeavour is to help women to reach their goals – examples are aplenty.
However, only in seven countries of the world, including Panama, Thailand, Ghana, Ecuador, Nigeria, Mexico and Uganda, women and men take part in business equally.
Obstacles deterring women in business are many, but balancing work and family continues to top the chart. How are Indian women battling the odds and taking up entrepreneurship as a preferred career choice? To find the answers, Entrepreneur India got in touch with Sairee Chahal, CEO and Founder of SHEROES; Mahasweta Banerjee, Managing Director of Blue Sky Educational Services Pvt. Ltd; and Sonia Singal, Founder of cajobportal.com. These entrepreneurs have maintained the balance with élan and are also facilitating women empowerment through entrepreneurship.
Problems Better Addressed by Women Entrepreneurship
Women-led enterprises often focus on improving the lives of women, solving specific issues that plague them while playing an active role in promoting education, literacy and addressing gender disparities and other challenges.
Chahal, who is committed to make women professionals successful in their careers and help them maintain a work-life balance, believes every woman in a position of power and influence can change the equation for many others around her.
“They also have the unique opportunity to mentor and be role models. Women, who reach out to or work with female entrepreneurs, are more likely to begin the journey themselves. And they are changing the sex ratio to make female voices heard and female opinions counted,” she enthused.
Internet Helping Women Entrepreneurs
Today the Internet has helped us access the world at the click of a mouse; this has created a big difference as geographical distance and physical presence have lost relevance. Women are making most of this by operating businesses from home.
“A lot of work, which eventually needs to be executed remotely after the initial client interface can be done perfectly well in a ‘work-from-home’ arrangement; be it content development, digital marketing or online marketplace-led trade,” put forth Singal, whose recruitment website for finance professionals is operated entirely from home with a team that works from home as well.
Her team is diverse and includes a woman whose father is suffering from cancer; a woman in Kerala, who is stuck in a remote location tending to her family; an expecting mother and also one who is studying for her CA Finals.
Women need more time to balance the multiple roles that they play.
They are primary caregivers for their families, besides working professionals. Engagement that gives them the flexibility to do both without fear of compromising and allows them to build financial muscle is preferable.
Even though women entrepreneurs cite flexibility as the primary reason, Chahal feels that entrepreneurship is a lot more than flexible hours, though it is the best loved and consequently the best remembered perks.
Being married to a traditional Bengali family at a very early age Banerjee didn’t get the opportunity to focus on her career. However, her indomitable quest for a career culminated in entrepreneurship after few failed attempts at full-time jobs. “Flexibility was the key driver for me, as full-time engagement was the major road block in my path to professional success. I started from a small office nearby, which helped me manage both work and home deftly. Entrepreneurship with its flexibility can be a game changer for women like us,” she said.
For Singal, entrepreneurship drives women with its unique risk-reward technique. “You are your own master and don’t need to be guided by the dictum of a boss, who might not necessarily be sensitive enough to understand the challenges pursuing a career and motherhood simultaneously, bring,” she vouched.
Contrary to this perception, Chahal says women in India still have issues with confidence required to start out on their own. An entrepreneur herself, Chahal strongly feels only the daring, rebellious and stubborn risk takers opt for entrepreneurship.
“Women business owners are actually working harder and putting in more work hours than those in jobs. The only real value is in terms of being free to work out their individual schedule and a greater independence in decision making,” she adds.
More Women Taking up Entrepreneurship
The reasons why women want to start up on their own often overlap with the real issues faced — lack of flexibility, difficulty in getting jobs, gender disparities, unsafe workplaces, instances of sexual harassment and the lack of career progression or the proverbial glass ceiling as we call it.
According to Chahal, post maternity, only 40% women get back to work full-time and less than 70% continue to work in any capacity. Her experiences also say that despite return-ship programmes, many can’t pick-up where they left off and thus lose all accumulated experience and expertise. “Given the challenges, where does a professionally qualified and talented woman take her expertise and skills but towards entrepreneurship?” she questioned.
Banerjee seconds Chahal as she too agrees entrepreneurship comes as a saviour for women, who cannot join the full-time career after a sabbatical or for other constrains. “The pent up energy, education, passion, and aspiration find the right channel in entrepreneurship, and the flexibility gives you a free hand in giving your best, whenever you can. Slow but steady engagement with the right decisions can lead your business to any height,” she emphasizes.