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Who Inspires You: Women In Business Tell You Their Story Four women entrepreneurs and businesswomen in different stages of their career tell all.

By Prerna Raturi

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Who helps you stand up when you fall? Who keeps you grounded, and still encourages you to dream? Who lets you see what you can be, and nudges you towards how to get there? Four women entrepreneurs and businesswomen in different stages of their career tell all.

Neha Kant, Founder, Clovia

My husband, Pankaj Vermani inspires me every day. With Clovia, he got it all together for us. He showed complete faith in my idea. He not only mentored the company for the first two years but also kept a full-time job to ensure the household kept running. He developed our business model, spent sleepless nights with us, only to go back to work the next day. What's more, he helped the enterprise with savings of his own! He would do household chores when I was too busy, and was instrumental in getting us the Series A funding. I owe it all to him.

Shahnaz Husain, Chairman and Managing Director, The Shahnaz Husain Group of Companies

My father guided me and inspired me to take up a career. When I started my business, he taught me to have faith in my abilities. He said, "There is no such thing as destiny; you can make your own destiny and can be what you will yourself to be." It was my father from whom I borrowed Rs 35,000 and started my first herbal clinic in the verandah of my home. From the success of one herbal clinic to the expansion of the business into a worldwide chain lies not only my relentless determination and hard work, but also my father's faith that I would succeed.

Ritu Kumar, Fashion Designer and Textile Revivalist

There's not just one person who has inspired me in my journey. But if I had to name someone, it would be Pupul Jayakar and Purna Devi Chattopadhyay. The two were instrumental in sending me down the road I eventually walked on. They were conversant with the fact that Indian textile legacy is an ocean of possibilities. They also convinced me how it needs a major revival and familiarization, and here I am, so many years later! What they were showed me was indeed so wide-ranged. Textiles in India change from state to state, from one village to another. Textile is not a single idea. In India, it is multiple ideas, and in that, textiles have inspired me, too.

Benu Sehgal, Senior Vice President, DLF Place, Saket

It's a strange world, and stranger is the fact that I can't truthfully say any live person ever inspired me, although there were a few who tried to influence me, and a few who brought me down. I have been inspired throughout my life by great writers and great composers. I can still get inspired by reading passages from writers such as Rabindranath Tagore, Leo Tolstoy, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Henry James, and William Faulkner. But I don't seem to feel much need for outside inspiration any more. I think your own unconscious can be the source of the greatest inspiration, whereas outsiders may only inspire you to imitate them. Having said that, I think of late, my two daughters inspire me because somehow, in this day and age, when girls are pulled in a thousand different directions about who they are and who they should be, these young ladies have managed to find and retain their own true identities despite what everyone else is doing.
Prerna Raturi is writer, researcher and editor for the past eight years and writes for a number of newspapers and magazines. She started her journalistic career with Business Standard, and has also worked in the field of women's empowerment. Her interests include reading, writing, and adventure sports.
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