Since ages, women in India are expected to live a confined domestic life and they have been struggling hard to get rid of these retrograding restrictions. From trying to break free from the shackles of social discrimination, cultural bias, tags of being an inferior sex to fulfilling their responsibility of maintaining a home and a family, Indian women are now finally acknowledged, appreciated and admired for their new roles of ‘entrepreneurs’.
Proving their creativity, determination and skills, women today, have conquered the sectors of retail, education, technology and social work. Inspired by their hard work and determination, we at herSaga, bring to you a few inspiring stories of successful Indian women entrepreneurs:
1. Shradha Sharma
Founder and Chief Editor of YourStory, Shradha Sharma lives her life in stories. YourStory is India’s largest media platform for entrepreneurs and has played an important role in promoting the entrepreneurial ecosystem in India. Born in Patna, Shradha majored in History from St.Stephen’s college and completed her MBA from MICA. Recently, she was featured in the list of 500 LinkedIn Influencers across the world.
“When you know you have to fend for yourself every inch of the way, it gives you a different kind of grit and tenacity.” – Shradha Sharma
2. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw
An eminent Indian entrepreneur, Kiran is the Chairperson and Managing Director of Biocon Limited and chairperson of IIM-Bangalore. Listed as the 92nd most powerful woman in the world by Forbes, she also finds herself as one of the top 50 women in Financial Times’ business list. She is also awarded with the Othmer Gold Medal, for outstanding contributions in the progress of science and chemistry.
3. Anu Sridharan
Founder and CEO of NextDrop, a social enterprise that deals with the problem of water supply in urban areas. Launched in 2011, NextDrop keeps the residents informed about the timely water supply and also provides for better management of water supply in order to save it. Anu has also been selected to the Forbes “30 Social Entrepreneurs Under 30” list.
4. Swati Bhargava
Swati, born and brought up in Ambala, a small town near the Indian capital, is the co-founder of Cashkaro, the largest & fastest growing cashback & coupons site in the country. An alumnus of London School of Economics with Honors in Mathematics & Economics, Swati has also been an investment banker at Goldman Sachs for 5 years. But the calling of her dreams was so loud, that she dropped her job to pave her path to becoming one of the most successful women in India.
5. Ajaita Shah
Ajaita Shah brought quality and affordable consumer services to rural India through her initiative ‘Frontier markets’ which is a sale and distribution company offering energy and sanitation products to low income households. Ajaita feels that basic sanitation is the right of every individual. She holds a B.A International from Tufts University and has been awarded with several awards, most influential award in microfinance being one of them.
6. Upasana Makati
“I wasn’t happy and wanted to set up my own venture. One day while I was in an introspective mode, I was counting the number of magazines that were available for me to read. I could easily list out about 50 names, but when I thought about the same aspect for the visually impaired, I was unable to name even one.”
A graduate with a BMM from Jai Hind College, Mumbai, Upasna has worked as a PR before realizing her true dream of making a difference in the lives of visually impaired people. She has also studied Communications from University of Ottawa, Canada. She’s the founder, editor and publisher of White Print (2013), India’s first lifestyle magazine for visually impaired in Braille English.
7. Meena Bindra
“If you passionately want to do something, then do it. Every woman has got the potential and capability for it.”
It all started as a hobby for 50 year old Meena Bindra but soon her small venture of clothing and designing gave way to Biba, one of the largest readymade ethnic wear brands in India. It was certainly a result of Meena’s hard work and dedication that from a meagre sum of 8,000 rupees as her starting amount, she ended up earning crores from Biba.
8. Richa Kar
“Being a woman entrepreneur is a blessing in disguise. If you are strong, focused and passionate about what you do, everything falls in place.”
Richa holds a degree in Engineering from BITS Pilani and has completed her Masters from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies. She also has a prior experience in working with several global retailers. Her final breakthrough was Zivame (2011), which brought not-less-than-a-revolution in the sector of online lingerie shopping. Zivame has turned out to be boon for Indian women. It has touched the lives of over 5 lakh women by bringing a “solution to lingerie woes”.
9. Pranshu Bhandari
A graduate from NMIMS, Mumbai, Bhandari co-founded Culturealley, a portal that provides audio visual lessons in various languages. One can use its services without compromising with the comfort of home. The portal has an international user base and it offers personalized real time facilities.
10. Suchi Mukherjee
Suchi is the founder and CEO of LimeRoad, an e-commerce platform for women having 600+ vendors and a high growth rate. Her vision is “to reach out to every single woman in the country and convert her into a LimeRoad user.”
11. Aditi Gupta
Founder of Menstrupedia, an online portal educating women about menstrual health and hygiene. Launching a guide about the most ‘hushed’ taboo, “Menstruation”, she has made her mark in the society by receiving an overwhelming response.
She is an electronics and instrumentation Engineer and has completed her post graduation in New Media Design from National Institute of Design.
12. Aditi Avasthi
Founder and CEO of Embibe.com. As an outcome of her personal experience, her website works as a student guidance platform for JEE Main, Advanced, BITSAT and AIPMT. It focuses on critical exam performance areas including speed, accuracy, time management and other psychological factors like confidence and perseverance.
13. Saumya Vardhan
Ex-KPMG consultant quit her job to start Shubhpuja, an online portal for performing pujas and other rituals for various occasions. Started in December 2013, it has already become a success by providing services to over a hundred customers and aims to touch other heights of spirituality.
14. Masoom Minawala
Right after school when most of us are deciding what college to go to, Masoom already started building her dream. Grown up as a tomboy, she discovered her love for fashion while interning with a cousin who was a fashion designer and she never looked back. She started a fashion blog which eventually turned into a business while her father asked her to get some education qualification. She just turned 23 and she is the CEO of Style Fiesta which makes her one of the youngest entrepreneurs in India.
15. Sheetal Mehta Walsh
Having done her Masters in International Relations (Economics) from the London School of Economics and a BA in International Politics from the University of Alberta, Canada, Sheetal is the founder of Shanti Life that provides a unique micro finance platform to the poor villagers of Gujarat so that they could start their own sustainable business. Sheetal was also featured among the Top 5 most powerful Asian women in the UK.
16. Gloria Benny
Gloria is the co-founder and National President of MAD (Make a Difference), one of India’s fastest growing youth volunteer networks, that works on the code of harnessing the power of youth and channelizing their energy for improving lives of thousands of children in India through education. She holds a B.Com degree from Mahatma Gandhi University.
17. Ravina Raj Kohli
Founder and Executive director of JobCorp, Ravina is an international media veteran and holds an experience of 24 years spanning across television, radio broadcasting, advertising, filming, and journalism. Having worked for Star News and Sony Entertainment, she is also Indian television’s first woman CEO. She holds a Diploma from the London School of Journalism, as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, Economics and Literature from Bangalore University. She has also studied Feature film making and Broadcast news from NYU.
18. Chitra Gurnani Daga
Co-founder and CEO of Thrillophilia, a travel solution stop which deals with organizing trips and tours for travel enthusiasts. Chitra is a MBA from Indian School Business and has achieved success as a woman entrepreneur by starting Thrillophilia with her husband, Abhishek Daga.
19. Pankhuri Shrivastava
Co-founder and CMO of Grabhouse, a real estate portal that helps people to find flatmates, paying guests, rooms etc. The website is broker free. Pankhuri is also an engineer and went for a fellowship from Teach for India after her graduation before she co-founded Grabhouse.
20. Surabhi Dewra
Surabhi is founder of MeraCareerGuide, a career counselling website for students. It helps the students to explore their career choices and guides them accordingly. The portal won the Best Career Guidance Platform Award at ASSOCHAM’s Concern 2012. She was also invited as a guest delegate for Digital Learning India 2008 Conference, conducted by MHRD.
21. Radhika Aggarwal
Co-founder & CMO of Shopclues, Radhika is an MBA from Washington University and has been a part of an executive program at Stanford University. With her 14 years of experience in marketing, she has successfully made Shopclues, a household name in India.
22. Sairee Chahal
Sairee Chahal, an industry influencer and a serial entrepreneur who also takes interest in occasional writing is the co-founder of Sheroes, a jobs and career community for women. Founded in January, 2014, Sheroes is a platform that provides women with a work life that fits their lifestyle. Today, almost 300,000 women are associated with this network and the benefits acquired by women are overwhelming!
Sairee also co-founded Fleximoms, yet another platform that bridges the gap between professional women and the companies which seek to employ them. Apart from placing women in the organizations that understands their work value, this community also programmes for career guidance, resume making, work ethics, etc.
She was named one of the Most Poweful Women in Indian Business, 2012 and was also a finalist for the Cartier Women’s Award Initiative for 2012.
23. Pernia Qureshi
Pernia is the founder of the online luxury store “Pernia’s pop up shop” which brings the luxury designer clothing lines to common consumer market. After studying law, She just followed her passion for fashion and interned with Harpers and freelanced for Conde nast and made her way to become one of India’s leading style icon and a fashion entrepreneur. She has also designing costumes for Bollywood stars in the the film Aisha.
24. Pooja Dhingra
Her name itself is a brand in the field of culinary treats now. She switched from studying law to attending a hospitality school in Switzerland and begun her training in Le Cordon Bleu, Paris. Pooja opened her first macaroon store ‘Le 15 Patisserie’ in Mumbai in 2010. Owning the labels of ‘Chef’ and ‘business woman’, she also has a book ‘The Big book of treats’ under her name. Pooja was featured in Forbes India’s prestigious list of ’30 Under 30′.
25. Kanika Tekriwal
Kanika is quintessential of hope and determination. She has been working in aviation industry since she was 17 and knew it was her life. She was 22 when she found out that she has cancer. She battled cancer and her drive gave rise to Jet set go. Jet Set Go is a platform enabling people to search and book charter flights all across India.
Kanika is also a painter, traveler and marathon runner. despite of being in 100 most influential women in India.
These women have come a long way by working hard, multitasking, fighting the stereotypes and are inspiring millions of people across the globe today!