I'm More Than My Surname: Ananya Birla 10 of India's leading heirs & heiresses on succession and start-ups.

By Punita Sabharwal

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Entrepreneur India

Who says it comes easy working in a family business. What if you are made in-charge of a loss-making unit? Or if you are thrown out in open to make your own mistakes. That's the kind of training India Inc's leading industrialists provide to the next generation as nobody has made it the easy way.

Here, in a series of articles, we bring to our readers India's young leaders who will drive the next entrepreneurial wave of the nation. These legacy makers are excited about new businesses and startups. They want to emerge on their own driving the next change in their family businesses and taking the legacy ahead.

Making her Mark

Claim to Fame: Daughter of Aditya Birla Group, Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla

Ananya Birla doesn't believe in labels or tags as she finds them restricting. As an individual, she wants to claim her own piece of sky. When Ananya saw on one end there were people who didn't have any access to even electricity and on the other end there was so much opulence with people who had everything, she found the answer in microfinance.

Ananya started with two people on board doing a lot of research and going out in the field herself. The idea of a startup excited Anaya since the early days as building something from scratch attracted her. In her own words, "What attracted me towards microfinance is it's a very sustainable business, which has an impact on people's lives yet it can be very profitable." When the idea clicked, armed with a business plan Ananya reached her father for seed funding. Once Kumar Mangalam Birla saw it, he realized how serious his daughter was about the venture. At present, Svantantra has been able to touch 70 branches in four states with more than 600 employees. At the time of filing the story it touched 245.18 crore impacting 1.2 lakh people. On the differentiator of building microfinance 2.0, Ananya says, "We are integrating technology within our processes for completely cashless collections and disbursements."

When asked about her vision for Svatantra, Ananya says, "Given the situation in India probably becominga small financial bank is the next step forward and eventually a national bank." Within three years of operation, the company will reach break-even this year. On how she has been able to manage everything on her young shoulders, Ananya shares picking up on people's strengths and inculcating that. When asked what she learnt and from whom, she replies, "My grand dad used to have a long-term vision. I gauged that. From my dad I learnt that it is very important to stay calm. From my mom, I learnt that it is important to have a high Emotional Qquotient, from technical view point I learnt how important it is to have a strong MIS system from a colleague."

Next on the cards is Ananya's second startup, which is in the lifestyle space and will be launched this year. The other passion for Ananya is music. The 22-year old plays guitar and makes her own music. This year will also mark the launch of her debut album. With so much in her kitty will joining the family business be on the cards, Ananya says, "I would love to whenever there is the right opportunity. The doors are open all time."

Also Read: On the Road Less Travelled - Parth Jindal

This article first appeared in the Indian edition of Entrepreneur magazine (August 2016 Issue).

Punita Sabharwal

Entrepreneur Staff

Deputy Editor, Entrepreneur India Magazine

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