Honouring Female Social Entrepreneurs
When you are kind to others, it not only changes you, it changes the world.” Today, when the entire world is battling a pandemic and many are tormented in various ways and are in need of help, being kind is the least we can do – because there is serenity in being kind, there is beauty in being kind, there is growth in being kind. Today, on World Kindness Day, we endeavour to bring some women entrepreneurs into limelight, who have attempted to make the world a better place by celebrating and promoting good deeds and pledging acts of kindness, either as individuals or as organisations.
1. Sujata Chatterjee felt overwhelmed at the waste generated by fast fashion trends and the toll it takes on climate change. Also, the sight of poor and needy people dressed in rags moved her to tears. In 2017, she was ‘enlightened’ and that is when she knew, working for the underprivileged was her calling. Hence, she left her corporate job at Hewlett-Packard India, and started her social venture Twirl.Store. The platform, encourages people to send in clothes they no longer need and in turn ‘earn’ points that can be redeemed on its ecommerce platform. The store then segregates clothes based on whether they can be upcycled into other usable items or not. The ones which cannot be upcycled are distributed in slum areas in Santiniketan and Sunderbans in West Bengal. The Kolkata-based entrepreneur works with an all-women team – eight core members and 40 on the outskirts of the city. She believes that whenever there is a human in need, there is opportunity for kindness; an opportunity she never lets slip by!
2. Anannya Parekh’s startup ‘ Inner Goddess’, a non-profit organisation, empowers women by making them understand the importance of financial literacy. It aims to address financial anxiety and mental health issues faced by women. Catering to young women between the ages of 16 and 25 years, hailing from underprivileged backgrounds, Annanya’s sole aim is to see each woman leading a respectable, anxiety-free life. Exemplifying the popular adage, ‘Today a reader, tomorrow a leader’, her social venture has impacted over 10,000 women through over 70 work-shops, across Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Bengaluru, since its conception in September 2016. She continues to work tirelessly as she knows she has miles to go before she sleeps……
3. Ruchi Jain gave up a government job to connect with farmers on the ground level, knowing well that they play a crucial role in the economy. Today, under the present persisting circumstances, we are working towards becoming self-reliant; Ruchi however, had taken the road towards self-reliance quite some time back. She invested a very meagre amount in a group of farmers who were unable to sell their jaggery produce. In trying to help them sell their produce, ‘Taru Naturals’ came into being. A farmer-focused startup, Taru Naturals focuses on natural and organic farm produce. Jaggery powder is one of its bestselling products, with clients like Taj Palace hotel in Mumbai and Blue Tokai. Other products such as black rice, khapli wheat flour, and sourdough flour are also popular. The startup’s main objective is to provide a platform to serve the farmers of India because she believes, ‘In Winter’s cold or summer’s heat, a farmer works, so the world can eat!’
4. Ila Kapoor Chaddah was particularly fond of everything handmade, handlooms and sustainable craft. Thus it didn’t take her long to notice how fast fashion and related lifestyles were destroying the environment. At the same, there were grassroot level artisans and fashion designers who were trying to reinvent crafts, create new sustainable fabrics and earn a decent living for themselves in the long run. This prompted Ila to start ‘Ziba by Hand’, a digital platform that aims at promoting everything handmade along with sustainability in everyday lifestyle choices. The platform promotes designers and craftsmen who use traditional Indian craft and textiles in a modern way, creating sustainable fashion and decor while keeping the rich heritage of Indian art and handloom alive. Ensuring a respectable lifestyle for these artisans is an honourable responsibility which Ila shoulders willingly and proudly.
5. Shaheen Mistri, Founder and CEO of ‘Teach For India’, has Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees from University of Manchester, England and St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, India respectively. Shaheen realised that not everyone in India is fortunate enough to be able to afford quality education. Due to the lack of efficient and dedicated teachers at the grassroots level, we are unable to tap into the vast, unnoticed talent pool in the country. ‘Teach for India’ resolves the deficit of leadership in education with the help of its Fellowship program and Alumni Movement; Fellows from reputed universities and workplaces are welcomed to teach children from low-income families. These fellows identify their roles and work towards ending the inequity in education.
Kindness is the ability to know what the right thing to do is and having the courage to do it. We salute the spirit of these women entrepreneurs who dared to do it differently to heal the world and make it a better place!