Women across the globe are changing the dynamics of entrepreneurship. Taking a plunge into the entrepreneurial vulnerability, innovating, setting priorities, bending patriarchy, taking critical decisions, overcoming fears, and juggling many roles, women have aced the arena which was predominantly a male bastion, two-decades back.
On International Women’s Day 2020, IndiaMART salutes Women Entrepreneurs and brings three unique stories of grit and growth of women-led businesses to inspire you on this special day.
Rachna Gupta | Founder-Director – Creative India & Home Hue
The journey of Rachna Gupta from a homemaker who got married at a young age of 18, to earning the most coveted crowns of Mrs. India 2019 & Mrs. Summer Global Universe 2020 is awe-inspiring.
As the director of ‘Creative India’ furnishings and owner of ‘Home Hue’ furnishing store in Pune, Maharashtra, Rachna states that life must go on despite the snowballs it throws your way.
Life’s loose cannons can make or break you
“My world came crashing down when I lost my husband in 2012, and I was caught unaware at a juncture in life where you’re left wondering what to do and where to go from here,” states Rachna. However, giving up was not an option, and Rachna gave herself five years to build her life up for her children – Vidul and Tamanna, now 20 and 15, respectively. “It’s been a tough battle, being a single mother and juggling between work while raising my children. And it was only possible due to my firm determination and positive attitude towards life,” shares Rachna.
She joined Panchsheel Realty and pursued an MBA, simultaneously. A year and a half down the line in mid-2014, determined to be her own boss and make her mark, Rachna fulfilled a small order for Radisson Blu, Pune, making it her first order for many to come. Today, her banner ‘Creative India’ supplies furnishings and linen to the top five-star hotels across India, and Radisson Blu stays on as her oldest and largest client. Rachna loves designing beautiful homes and spaces and takes up Interior Designing projects.
She was recognized as a remarkable upcoming business by Femina in 2019. Encouraged by her mother and daughter, she’s participated and won beauty pageants, besides launching her retail store in the heart of Pune. “My endeavors have made me realize that to be a winner, one needs to grab the opportunity and shun all negativity. Women must choose to ignore naysayers, work respectfully, and be accountable to themselves only. No challenge is beyond accomplishment if you are determined and work hard to realize your goals,” she advises fellow women.
CA Monika Maru | Co-founder – Maru Ecobags
An avid environmentalist and women empowerment enthusiast, CA Monika Rathi Maru, co-founded Maru Ecobags in 2018 after quitting a thriving corporate career at Tata Motors. Her entrepreneurial plunge coincided with the time when the Maharashtra government took a stand against plastic, and banned single-use plastic bags. Knowing that eco-friendly bags are critical for a sustainable future, Monika launched Maru Ecobags and formed an all-women squad in the rural periphery of Pune.
“I took the initiative to make my contribution towards safeguarding the environment from the harmful effects of plastic bags and non-woven bags. My next aim was to empower rural women. Women stitch all our cotton bags at their homes. This empowers them and enables them to become financially independent without stepping out of the house,” share Monika
Besides working closely with her 70-member team, Monika also serves as a lecturer at the Institute of Taxation and Accounts, Pune, to quench her love for all things accounting and taxation.
Having recognized by Hindustan Times and LBB Pune, Monika continues to raise awareness against environmental hazards posed by plastic and non-woven bags. On 2nd October 2019, she organized a plastic collection drive in collaboration with the municipal corporation. She was enthused to collect over 150 kg of plastic waste with people participating in the campaign with great zeal. The collected plastic was picked by the Pimpri Chinchwad, Municipal Corporation for a petroleum project.
From leaving the comfort of a corporate career to working towards the environment in her own way, Monika shares that, “it’s not easy to give up your fixed salary, and start afresh as an entrepreneur and start building from grounds up. However, women must overcome fears and follow their true calling.”
Sheetal Talati | CEO – Pushpa Industries
Back in 2007, a young Sheetal Talati took over the reins of her family business after the untimely death of her father – Rohit Talati. Having lost her hero overnight, Sheetal did not lose his vision to take Pushpa Industries to the next level. His words were etched in her memory when he had shared that, “his hard work was in its golden period, and there was no stopping right now.”
“Even though I was grieving, the promise I made to him, fuelled a fire inside me. I did not want to let my father’s hard work go in vain. I took over just ten days after my loss and resumed work as usual with our existing clients,” shares Sheetal.
However, this was just the beginning of an avalanche of challenges. She was still learning the ropes of the business on her own and battling offers for a buyout when all of the existing clients left, knowing that a young lady is the new boss in the male-dominated field of HVAC and heat-transfer manufacturing.
Sheetal reveals that “for a while, I went to work and had nothing to do but to switch off the lights at the end of the day. I felt like a failure.”
Determined to turn things around, Sheetal made her resolve to make the best product in the existing market by gaining knowledge first-hand, she enrolled in a course on air conditioning and refrigeration at Father Agnel College, an “all-boys’ course” in Mumbai, after requesting special permission from the administration, to understand the nitty-gritty of manufacturing.
She also took help from the company’s older employees and her father’s extensive notes that felt as though he was guiding her. “I felt confident again. I taught myself everything – from technical stuff like electrical wiring to running the show; I took on every role.”
Today, Pushpa Industries is one of the leading coil manufacturers in Maharashtra. It manufactures all types of heating and cooling coils for air conditioners, AHUs, package units, FCUs, chillers, dryers, cold storage, refrigeration products, etc. It also provides coils and components to leading brands like Blue Star, Voltas, Hitachi, Daikin, and LG, among others.
“Making a breakthrough in a male-dominated industry like manufacturing, I didn’t have any role models to look up to or emulate. I have been told multiple times that she got orders because she is a girl. On the flip side, clients and vendors have often walked into the office demanding to speak with the boss, expecting a male to be in charge,” she explains.
Looking back, Sheetal says that she wanted to be her own role model and leave footsteps for the future generation of women who want to pursue this field. “I didn’t shy away because I was the only female manufacturer in the HVAC and R industry then. If I can hold my ground through perseverance and courage, it will inspire other women to also charter this path, and this is what keeps me going,” says Sheetal.
“Educate yourself at every stage. It is a lifelong process. Make each day count, by learning something new,” the advice that her father gave helped her make focus on learnings at work, and win back the clients, the company had lost.
One of the biggest challenges that women face is straddling different roles of being a mother, wife, daughter-in-law, and the boss! Even in this day and age, there’s a part of the society that expects mothers to not work but look after their kids, especially when their husbands are professionally stable. “Random people offer unsolicited advice all the time. I believe it is sentiments like these that force almost 60-70 percent of women to give up their careers. However, women must charter their own paths and follow their hearts. It does not matter whether you are a man or a woman in a given field, with hard work and dedication you are made to win,” she recommends.
Sheetal has been featured in YourStory, ET Tomorrow Makers, and Humans of Bombay and has won numerous awards. “It’s been ten years, and we’ve received countless awards for being the best. I still miss my father every day, but every time there’s a victory at work, I feel closer to him, and finally, it’s not just his dream…it’s ours,” she concludes.