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Breaking Barriers: Decoding India's Shepreneurs Looking at women who dared to break the glass ceiling and tracing their entrepreneurial journeys

By Bhavya Kaushal

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Breaking barriers have always been the norm of women entrepreneurs. Kiran Majumdar Shaw was one of the firsts to open a whole new world for women to trailblaze the shepreneurs arena. Today many women entrepreneurs are emerging in India and throughout the world. While earlier women were restricted to the spaces of domesticity, gradually this mindset is changing and women are emerging as powerful figures in the corporate arena. We look at shepreneurs, their journeys and lessons to learn.

Ghazal Alagh

Ghazal Alagh, Co-founder of MamaEarth

The idea of creating 100% toxin-free baby products came when Alagh found it difficult to find chemical-free products for her son, Agastya. To address this concern of mothers which they incessantly day in and day out, the corporate trainer became an entrepreneur and co-founded MamaEarth. Responsible for product development and community management, Alagh is responsible for product development and community management.

What have been your struggles as a women entrepreneur?

As an entrepreneur, you work with people from all walks of life, very few of them are professional and are evolved around concepts of diversity. It's especially true when you are dealing with contractors, small-scale vendors that you face more struggles since a lot of them are not used to the idea of a female boss around them. Apart from this of course, as a mother and entrepreneur, I am doing 2 full-time jobs so it always takes a toll in terms of the number of hours available. I wake up at 4 am to make sure I accomplish all activities of the day.

What is the mission of your endeavours?

It is to single-mindedly, create a safer world for babies and a stress-free world for parents.

A message for women struggling as entrepreneurs

Put your goals on top and change your circumstances to achieve them, do not put your circumstances on top and change your goals accordingly. You are a wonder woman who can do whatever she chooses to!

Reshmi Dey

Reshmi Dey, Founder of Glass Sutra

A math and economics graduate, it was a trip to Firozabad that opened the world of glass work for Dey and there was no looking back from there. Today, she is a proud owner of Glass Sutra, India's first comprehensive public access glass art studio and has travelled the world thereby acquiring vast experience in the art of glass making.

What have been your struggles as a women entrepreneur?

All the entrepreneurs face a steep arduous path to success, one that is much more likely to end in a ditch than promise land be it a man or a woman. In our society, women need to prove themselves at every step. It is difficult to establish a trust only based on capability, knowledge and sincerity. Another factor which is becoming more prominent is women supporting other women to grow which is very rare, something you would not find in men.

What is the mission of your endeavours?

Establish the fact that one should chase her dreams, make a difference by carving out a path with her belief in a male-dominated work & business field. Also, try to establish a fact that a woman can successfully lead a business differently if she is sincere in her efforts. "If I can be a Glassblower which is a word generally associated with men, can also blow out the mind of people with my work and create a successful story of a woman in business," is what I tell myself day in and day out.

A message for women struggling as entrepreneurs

Do what your heart wants. We win or we learn but the journey should never stop. Your work should do all the talking. We as women face issues like low confidence, we doubt our abilities, often comparing ourselves to men. Also one has to be very realistic and logical in one's approach, keeping sentiments, emotions aside while making the flow chart of a business.

Jyoti Reddy

Jyoti Reddy- Founder of Ereena Silk

Jyoti Reddy is a designer, producer and retailer of the Ereena brand of fine eri silk fabrics, sarees, accessories, and home furnishings initiated in the year 2014. Ereena is Jyoti Reddy's pioneering effort, producing qualities of eri silk that have never been produced before and generating employment with local resources. Her efforts have been recognized throughout the world. She has also been invited under the 'Innovation' category to exhibit her products at the reputed International Folk Art Market Santa Fe 2018.

What have been your struggles as a women entrepreneur?

Mainly it is the family work balance. There is never a perfect time to start your enterprise. The biological clock and career clock are always in antithesis. Everything is up to us and everything depends on our determination.

What is the mission of your endeavours?

I would like to establish a powerful sustainable brand, through the power of innovation and mutually beneficial collaborations, while positively impacting thousands of lives in the eri industry.

A message for women struggling as entrepreneurs

Life is full of shocks. Be a long piece of elastic, resilient always and stretch yourself enough to not break and bounce back eventually. The bigger the bend in the bow the farther will your arrow go.

Manreet Kahlon

Dr Manreet Kahlon, Co-founder and COO, ivhSenior Care

A dentist by profession, Kahlon wants to replicate the Family support system of Indian Armed Forces in providing healthcare. All the services of this setup are focalized on trust, safety, security using administrative skills of ex-defence personnel (care managers/ care buddies), who are known for their credibility, administrative efficiency, and multitasking ability. An avid golfer, she has successfully created an enterprise looking after more than 1000 "elders' across 22 cities in just 19 months. Providing gainful employment to over 300 people,

What have been your struggles as a women entrepreneur?

Balancing between professional and personal life is a real struggle. My husband is a Naval officer and has a busy sailing schedule while I hold the fort at home. Therefore, I am always juggling between my home and office duties.

What is the mission of your endeavours?

To cater to the needs of the elderly& provide customized solutions according to their requirements. I intend to create a pan India eco-system for elders, where every elderly feels that he is not dependent.

A message for women struggling as entrepreneurs

Never be intimidated by male dominance in the business. Study & understand your business in depth. In the end, it's the hard work and conviction that do all the talking, NOT gender!

Bhavya Kaushal

Former Features Writer

I am a work-in-progress writer and human being. An English graduate from Delhi University, writing is my passion and currently, I was Entrepreneur India's start-up reporter. I love covering start-ups and weaving their stories into unforgettable tales with the power of ink! 

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