During the past two years, the Indian business scene has changed quite a bit. The number of women in power has been slowly increasing and replacing men in many important positions.
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Women launch only 9% of all Indian startups, with those numbers significantly decreasing in rural areas. But all those women are considered to be the exception rather than the rule.
In our list today, we’ll look at eleven inspiring women who have changed the face of the Indian business scene.
They are all authentic, with different education, experience and success stories. They are all united in their willingness to stand their ground, to fearlessly enter the male territory and rule there.
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is the Founder and Managing Director of Biocon, India’s largest biotechnology company.
At only 25 she started Biocon India, a subsidiary of the Irish Biocon Biochemicals Limited, in her garage in Bangalore with a capital of only 10,000 Rs.
I faced a number of challenges whilst I built Biocon. Initially, I had credibility challenges where I couldn’t get banks to fund me; I couldn’t recruit people to work for a woman boss. Even in the businesses where I had to procure raw materials, they didn’t want to deal with women.
Kiran’s net worth is $1,46 billion, making her the 4th richest woman in India. She’s also a known philanthropist, supporting healthcare and educational programs, and helps improve infrastructure in India.
Anu Sridharan is a co-founder of NextDrop, a messaging system that provides citizens of India with water supply information. She was included on Forbes’ “30 Social Entrepreneurs Under 30” list.
The service she launched sends an SMS 60 minutes before water will be available in the household, and afterwards sends another message asking for feedback. It gives the government first-hand information on possible issues and lets them repair leakages quickly by knowing exactly where they are.
One thing I’ve learned is that you’re always going to make mistakes. That’s unavoidable. I think the biggest thing that separates successful entrepreneurs from the not so successful ones is how you get back up again. I think the more successful ones recover faster and keep going and fail faster and fail more often.
Pranshu Patni is a co-founder of CultureAlley, a company that targets effective communication that comes when you know foreign languages.
Her Hello English is the #1 language learning application on Google Play in India and many countries of the Middle East.
CultureAlley worked with language experts to develop a new learning model that allows people to learn a language in a fun way while watching videos or interacting on social media.
For example, while browsing Facebook or Twitter, it will change the words to make learning English a part of the daily routine, and therefore more effective.
Sairee Chahal is a founder of Sheroes, a career network platform created exclusively for female professionals.
Some time ago Sairee realized that there is far less possibility for women than for men to find a job in India. Chances are close to zero if you are coming back from maternity leave.
Her initiative has already helped more than 10,000 women find their career path, with 300,000 women involved in different platform events, seminars and mentoring programs. Sairee wants these numbers to grow to 1 million in three years.
Sakshi Bhasin Tulsian
Sakshi Tulsian is a co-founder of POSist – a SaaS-based platform for the restaurant businesses. It manages online reservations, inventory and billing.
A restaurant owner, Sakshi came up with the idea when she and her husband needed the same kind of app for their business and couldn’t find it.
Here’s what she says about being a woman in power:
Men can always take a break as it is socially acceptable; a woman is, however, not entitled to such luxuries, no matter how liberal people around her are.
Anisha Singh is a digital entrepreneur, the CEO and a co-founder of MyDala, a local services marketing platform that connects sellers with customers.
MyDala started as a Groupon-like website and was at the edge of a failure until Anisha decided to switch to a mobile application partnered with Vodafone.
Currently, MyDala employs more than 300 people, and Anisha has received awards for “Women Leadership” and “Leading Woman in Retail.”
Naina Lal Kidwai
Naina Lal Kidwai is a Group General Manager and Country Head of HSBC India. She is the first woman to manage the foreign bank in India, and The Guardian called her the first female voice of Indian capitalism.
Apart from a few areas of excellence in the services, where women have reached high positions of responsibility, there is still a great deal to do in industry and in the rural areas.
Naina held a number of public talks on women’s role in business and also initiated discussions against sexual harassment. She wrote the book “30 Women in Power: Their Voices, Their Stories” which shares the experience of the top business women in India.
Swati Bhargava is a girl from a small town in India who loves math and refused a scholarship from Harvard Business School, preferring instead to attend the London School of Economics.
She’s a co-founder of the coupon and cashback company CashKaro, which she created with her husband.
The company works on an affiliate basis and has a pool of 800+ partner companies, including Alibaba and Amazon.
Ravina Raj Kohli
Ravina Raj Kohli is India’s Media Queen. She was the first female television CEO and has over 30 years of media experience ranging from journalism to radio broadcasting.
She started Indian Channel Nine from scratch in 3 months and created the multimedia company Sundial which produces movies and TV content.
Ravina’s company JobCorp Solutions was created to help students and recent graduates find their path in the BPO and IT industries.
Kanika is a founder of JetSetGo, an interactive service for search and charter helicopters and aircraft in India.
When she was 22, she was diagnosed with cancer and the doctors weren’t very optimistic about the outcome. A year later, after beating cancer and with a business plan ready, she launched her startup.
Cancer made me a strong person ready to face any challenge, and most importantly, to never give in. So when we began work on JetSetGo and things didn’t go my way – I didn’t get upset, but just focused on what we could do next.
JetSetGo now has almost 80% of India’s private jet fleet on board and their customer base is growing daily. Kanika is set to get into the list of the top 100 most powerful women in the world.
Pooja Dhingra is the ‘Macaron Queen’ of India, Le Cordon Bleu chef and founder of Le 15 Patisserie chain.
At first she studied law in Mumbai but soon realized that she didn’t want to do that for a living. She then found her passion in food. After tasting her first macarons in Paris, she knew that she would open up her own store.
With initial funding from her father, she became the owner of 6 stores across the country within a couple of years and plans to expand further.
At first she had to educate the Indian population on what macarons are, which meant giving away the first free samples, but that wasn’t it.
The biggest problem was to get people to take you seriously. For example, if I had to sign a lease for a place, or buy machinery, I would have to ask my father to make these calls for me.
Now she’s teaching culinary classes, writing books which have become bestsellers, and planning to open more restaurants in addition to those she already has.
To sum up
The Indian business scene is changing thanks to the enthusiasm and passion of the women that started altering the conventional way of doing things.
We’re sure these eleven success stories will inspire more talented women in the future who’ll create even greater and more impressive projects.