Women Entrepreneurs of Kerala
Women from the state of Kerala are educated, talented and innovative, and this state boasts of 92.07% female literacy, but unfortunately, they fall behind men as far as business goes (even though their count is above men in numbers). To resolve these issues, both the central and state governments have launched many initiatives to encourage innovativeness among women and welcome them into the entrepreneurial arena. Their efforts did meet with success and it has been observed that women have increased in entrepreneurial sector in 80’s and the 90’s.
However, even with these positive attributes only 11.3% of women choose entrepreneurship as their career. Though the government of Kerala has initiated various schemes to empower women entrepreneurs, women entrepreneurship still needs a boost.
Presenting some prominent women entrepreneurs in the state of Kerala.
> Sheila Kochouseph Chittilapally, Managing Director, V-Star
One of the most well-known woman entrepreneurs from Kerala, her company V-star is now a 75 crore business. Her sustained, productive efforts have made V-star one of the leading lingerie brands in Kerala. Having crossed boundaries, this company has a presence in the Middle East as well. Most important, this company also provides employment to tailors and others, who are mostly women from rural background.
> Beena Kannan, CEO, Seematti
The brand Beena Kannan created – Seematti is popular among saree lovers. The growth of this business has been phenomenal – from a small saree shop, it has catapulted into the most sought-after saree retailer of Kerala. With the business expanding, the stores have opened across the state. A saree designer herself, Beena she works consistently, aspiring to excel as both as a designer as well as an entrepreneur.
> HarshaThachery, Founder & CEO, Masalabox
It was during her maternity leave, that Harsha Thachery began to explore the possibility of starting a business – healthy and preservative free food options. Then she discovered that there were numerous home chefs out there, mostly women, who catered healthy home-cooked food. Seeing the potential, she soon launched her own platform – Masalabox with 100 home chefs delivering fresh, healthy and preservative free meals on a pre-booking system. Masalabox now has a presence in Kochi and Bangalore, and there are major expansion plans to be launched in the future.
> Poornima Sreelal – Founder & CEO, Jobveno.com
Poornima Sreelal launched her job portal Jobveno.com which is unique. It is an innovative system which helps laymen search and apply for jobs, even without a resume. The portal is a boon for many – blue-collar job seekers, housewives and students. It is this that differentiates Jobveno.com from other job portals. Based in Cochin, she aims to spread her portal services across the country.
> Sally Varma, Program Manager, Street Dog Welfare at Humane Society International
It was her passion and love for animals made Sally Varma pursue a career in “catching dogs”. She is an entrepreneur with a difference. She catches dogs, sterilizes them and then releases them back on the streets. She is no way deterred by the challenges – like the recent Kerala floods, and through her intense passion many animals were even prevented from being washed away. Awards have come her way – she was bestowed an honorary welfare officer certificate from the Animal Welfare Board and she also bagged the President’s medal for rendering exemplary service to the country.
> Necin Lazar, Co-founder, Keralainsider.com
Backed by an MBA degree from Manchester University, she worked with various MNCs too. But it was a keen interest in entrepreneurship and start-ups that she worked with a few start-ups, which was the turning point in her life. This led to co-found Keralainsider.com.
Women Entrepreneurs from Karnataka
Exclusively, Bengaluru city ranks 40th amongst the Top 50 Global Cities for women entrepreneurs. And, on a positive note, women entrepreneurship is on the rise in India with nearly 14% of the business establishments in the country being run by women. The rising number of women entrepreneurs in Bengaluru, Chennai, Gurgaon, Kochi and several other cities bear witness to these changing trends.
> Shubhra Chadda, Co-founder, Chumbak
Shubhra Chadda is the Co-founder at Chumbak Design, one of India’s leading design houses, bringing together a curated mix of clothing accessories and home décor. She had always toyed with the idea of turning into an entrepreneur someday, even through she was part of the corporate world, in the beginning.
It was in 2009 that she co-founded Chumbak with her husband, Vivek Prabhakar. The company started out as an idea to create design-focused India-themed souvenirs. The response she received to her work was overwhelming and today, Chumbak has evolved into a prominent lifestyle brand. Now Chumbak flagship stores are situated in Bengaluru and Delhi, besides there are 35+ pop-up stores across India.
> Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairman and Managing Director, Biocon Limited
The Chairman and Managing Director of India’s largest biotechnology company – Biocon Limited, Kiran Mazumdar Shah pursued her graduation in zoology and biology from Bangalore University, and moved ahead to study fermentation science and train to become a brewmaster. She worked as a trainee Maltster and brewer in few firms in Australia, as options were not there for a woman to be a Master Brewer in India.
It was destiny that intervened when she was offered a position in Scotland. That was when she met Leslie Auchincloss – founder of BioconBiochemicals Limited, who crossed her path. He was looking for an Indian Entrepreneur for establishing a subsidiary in India, and lo and behold, that was the starting point of her entrepreneurial journey. It was in 1978 that she started Biocon India. Initially, she faced many challenges but her efforts paid off and then the rest is history. Biocon became the first company in India to be able to manufacture enzymes, and export them to United States and Europe within a year of its inception. Now, she is a hugely successful entrepreneur and her company has evolved as a leading player in biomedicine research.
> Rashmi Daga, Founder & CEO, FreshMenu
Rashmi Daga, founder and CEO at FreshMenu, is another successful name among women entrepreneurs in Bangalore. An IIM Ahmedabad alumnus, she decided to quit her high profile job in 2014, and become a food entrepreneur. There were immense opportunities opening up in the food industry and it was her own love for food that made her choose this sector as her business arena. Before FreshMenu, she had also started an online curated art marketplace afday.com in 2011 but it was shut down a year later.
Starting with a single kitchen setup in 2014, FreshMenu has now more than 25 fully functional kitchens across 4 cities in India, and is being backed by the biggest investors. Rather than having a central kitchen, FreshMenu has multiple satellite kitchens. It is indeed a super success story!
> Richa Kar, Co-founder, Zivame
Richa Kar, Co-founder, Zivame, is one of the most influential women entrepreneurs in Bangalore. She gained considerable knowledge about the retail market, while working for a few years with Spencer’s and SAP retail consulting. It was during her research on the lingerie market in India, that she came across an amazing fact – approximately 80% of women still wear wrong-sized bras!! And, to cap it all, most women felt shy to speak about their preferences when it came to selecting lingerie.
To make the lingerie-shopping an easy and enjoyable experience for women, she came up with the idea of ‘Zivame’. However, it was a big challenge convincing her family and friends to start this business. It was within a few months of the launch of her business in 2011, she was ready to take on the world. Today, Zivame is a brand to reckon with. It is a prominent online brand with a revenue of over 250 crores.