Jeyashree Sridhar. The name might not ring any bells but the woman behind this name is an important personality in the world of women entrepreneurship. Why? Because 20 years ago this woman under the guidance of her mother-in-law and with the support of just five other women began a small business initiative that today, boasts of a company with a factory.
Jeyashri started with the preparation of traditional sattu maavu powder or a tasty cereal mix along with homemade pickles. They had a good market which supplied made to order products. Soon, demands increased and the idea of starting a factory was incorporated by her husband to take it to the next level.
In the next 10 years, Jeyashree completed a course in Nutrition to equip herself with the required technical knowledge and combined it with traditional methodology and gradually built up the Sri Kalyani Trading Company in Telangana. Today, she is among the many women entrepreneurs strengthening the country’s commercial core.
The Rise of Women Entrepreneurship in India and Hyderabad
While the Indian share of women in a corporate senior management position is 30 percent, which is quite higher than the worldwide average of 24 percent, it is at a dismal 14 percent when it comes to the share of female entrepreneurs in the country. Globally, it has been seen that women entrepreneurs have an edge over their male counterparts which lure investors. In the case of India, this could be the case too but due to a completely different angle.
In this country, women control most of the household spending initiative. So, unless it is a male-focussed business (even then in some cases), women are more likely to better understand the customer perspective. Secondly, women are better at building and maintaining relationships than men. And continued association benefit a business tremendously because nothing much can be achieved without trust.
According to a study, entrepreneur start-ups with comparatively more female executives outnumber failing companies by between 20 and 50 percent. Even from the investor’s point of view, female presence increases the odds of success.
And mirroring the findings, a lot of development can be seen in both the private and public sector among women entrepreneurs as India records high female engagement in the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Telangana.
Women and Hyderabad’s Start-Up Scene
The city has time and again provided great platforms for women to get connected with other motivated and determined women, self-help groups, and economic empowering platforms; to share knowledge and collaborate on making ideas happen. From the Start-up Hyderabad events and forums to the team of Women Entrepreneurs of India and various associations like, Confederation of Women Entrepreneurs (COWE), Association of Lady Entrepreneurs of India (ALEAP), etc. geared to promote women entrepreneurship, the city is forever ready to provide steps to climb up the economic ladder.
Besides, the Government of Telangana is a beacon of hope in this regard as it assists and encourages women entrepreneurship immensely. The Telangana government has in fact decided to set-up a quota in government procurement vide which at least a fourth of the annual procurement percentage will henceforth be made from the women-run marginal, small and medium enterprises.
In another instance, the Telangana State Industrial Infrastructure Corporation government has also allotted 200 acres to three different women entrepreneurs’ associations in the state with 50 acres at Sultanpur, 30 acres at Toopran and 120 acres along with 10 per cent of land in all the 140 various industrial parks in the state have been earmarked for women entrepreneurs.
Challenges Faced by Women Entrepreneurs
As with all areas, challenges remain in this domain too. While Indian society has come a long way in accepting women in diverse roles, women entrepreneurs still have to encounter a number of hurdles when entering a field which has been dominated by males.
Many women entrepreneurs suffer from male reservations about a women’s role, ability and capacity and are treated accordingly. Also, they have to face stiff competition for marketing their products with both the organized sector and their male counterparts. Women also face the challenge of limited mobility owing to family ties, social mores, lack of education and low risk-bearing capability.
But these things are changing rapidly. As educational enrolment in all stages of primary to university level institutions rise, modern India is also witnessing a sea-change in women entrepreneurship. Today’s Indian women entrepreneurs are surely and steadily overcoming traditional barriers. And, the Indian economic arena has seen many who are beating the odds and are role models of women entrepreneurship.
Role Models and Achievers
Despite the challenges, there are many women entrepreneurs who are encouraging more women into technical and business universities as well as to women entrepreneurship through their career and stories of achievement.
Here are some stellar examples of women entrepreneurship in Hyderabad who are turning things around.
Anuradha Acharya – A postgraduate in Physics and MIS (Management Information Systems) from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Anuradha founded her first company, Ocimum Bio Solutions, in 2000. But what she is most recognised for is her contribution to genomics research, mainly through her molecular diagnostics company, MapMyGenome, which focuses on making people proactive about their health by offering DNA testing and personal genetic services.
Anuradha’s work has been recognised widely and she has received numerous awards and accolades. She made it to the Red Herring Magazine’s list of 25 Tech Titans under 35 in 2006, has received the Young Global Leader Award by the World Economic Forum in 2011, and was named in the 2018 W-power trailblazers by Forbes, among others.
Interestingly, she has also penned a book on Poetry called “Atomic Pohe- Random Rhymes at odd times- On Science, Non-Science and Nonsense”.
Meghna Narsimha – The founder and managing partner of Yasasve HR Consulting Services —Hyderabad’s top recruitment consultancy — Meghna Narsimha stepped into the startup scene as early as 2011. The firm started with two employees, providing recruitment initially only for Hyderabad and Secunderabad. Today, Yasasve now has 25 employees working together to serve a large spectrum of reputed companies in India and abroad. Meghana, who considers Indra Nooyi to be her role model, received “International Achievers award for Emerging Company” during the 44th Indian Achievers seminar held in New Delhi in 2018.
Sindura Borra – Making a splash in India’s growing wellness sector is Sindura Borra with her company, CleanseHigh, which has introduced juice detoxifying to the Indian market. The 32-year old Hyderabad-based entrepreneur started her company in 2013 when juice cleansing was a not-so-familiar concept in India.
What started with an investment of Rs.7 lakhs and a team of six, has now grown into a thriving business with a turnover of Rs.84 lakhs. Today, CleanseHigh home delivers detox juices made of fruits, vegetables, nuts and other ‘superfoods’ like amla to clients in many cities across India, helping them detox and heal their bodies.
Monika Misra – Monika Misra, one of the most noted women entrepreneurs in Hyderabad, is a name in reckon with in India’s hospitality and commercial real estate industry. Her venture Ikeva, provides flexi-lease co-working spaces to start-ups, businesses, and freelancers, through her venture.
Vaishali Neotia – Vaishali Neotia is one of the few women entrepreneurs in India’s tech startup space. Her company, Merxius, builds products using Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Interactive and Web technologies.
Vaishali had begun her journey from a small room at her friend’s house. Today, the company is in talks with the investors to raise $2 million. Their product RealSim Editor or RED is being currently tested by the Indian Armed Forces to create a training module for engine maintenance. Moreover, she is also planning to file two patents for RED, which would make Merxius, the first Indian company to file a patent in this arena.
Other like Mansi Gandhi (founder of DoctorC, an online diagnostic service provider), Arpita Soma (founder of YoGrad, a community for students to network, learn and share information, and Damini Mahajan (founder of WeMakeScholars.com is an online platform for students aiming to go overseas for higher education) are also running successful ventures and inspiring more women around them.
Today, women have forayed into the field of business with a sense of purpose and determination. And in Hyderabad, women entrepreneurs find a congenial environment to succeed. While traditionally, the bread-winners and money makers are touted to be men, women have shattered these narrow perceptions by their ground-breaking successes with all types of ventures. These Hyderabad-based women entrepreneurs are powerful individuals who never took no for an answer and created their own destinies.