Northeast India, covering the eight states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura is famously known for its many enterprising women who take their fair share in economic activities and contributing to society.
Most women in these states engage in some economic activity or the other at various levels, from home-based activities to opening high-end fashion stores and even running larger businesses such as food processing units.
The women entrepreneurs of North East India are truly inspiring. Women play a very important role in economic development of Manipur. The Ema Market of Imphal is well-known; it is one-of-a-kind in India, as it is run exclusively by women. With the changing times, Manipuri women also started to lead in entrepreneurship. The state government in Tripura is successfully trying to empower women with the concept of SHGs – thus, working towards economic empowerment of women.
Here are some truly inspiring women entrepreneurs from Manipur and Tripura, who are leaving a trail in the region’s economic engagement.
Women Entrepreneurs from Manipur
> Geetashori Yumnam & Dr Asem Sundari, Co-founders, Green Biotech EcoSolutions, Manipur
Geetashori Yumnam and Dr Asem Sundari Devi, the co-founders of Green Biotech EcoSolutions based in Imphal, are the leading women agripreneurs in Manipur. They work in the sustainable agriculture sector. The company manufactures bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides and has more than 30 varieties of products for agriculture besides aquaculture, animal husbandry & environmental management inputs.
The company’s most recent product is the Green Bucket – for converting kitchen waste to organic compost with the help of micro-compost, which is the first of its kind in the state. The new product helps to reduce the burden on the municipal corporations, making this an environmentally friendly activity. However, COVID-19 pandemic did impact the company’s production, which was reduced to zero in the last few months due to a lack in supply of raw materials from other states. But they are bravely moving ahead.
> Muktamani Devi, Founder, Mukta Shoes, Manipur
It was in 1989 when Muktamani Devi decided to fix her daughter’s school shoes that transformed life for the better. Ever since her entrepreneurial journey began about three decades ago, she not only sold several hand-knitted woollen shoes for children, women, and men, but also trained more than 2,000 people. She also made it to the list of Padma Shri awards for her contribution in the field of trade and industry.
After her sales picked up, she went on to participate in exhibitions and trade fairs in different places. Her products soon reached different parts of India as well as several countries like New Zealand, South Korea, Australia, and Japan. Her products are also available on e-marketing platform Giskaa.
> ArambamRenu Devi, Founder, Renu Handloom and Handicraft, Manipur
ArambamRenu Devi, a woman entrepreneur has been persistently working towards women empowerment for the last two decades, through production and promotion of Manipuri handloom and handicraft items. Luckily, she caught the attention of the state government who extended support to make her endeavor more successful.
The Founder of ‘Renu Handloom and Handicraft’ inaugurated her first store at KeishampatThiyamLeikai, Imphal West. The company has opened up many work-sheds and showrooms for Manipuri handloom and handicraft both inside and outside the state, thereby providing jobs to around 4,700 women artisans. Around 47 work-sheds for handloom and handicraft are effectively functioning both inside and outside the state so far. Two showrooms have already opened in Bangladesh and Guwahati.
> Shubhra Devi, Managing Director, Meira Foods, Manipur
The packaged food company started by Shubhra Devi in 2004, Meira Foods is today a household name in Manipur. Initially she started small, but today, Meira Foods’ products are available in local shops across Manipur. The product range consists mainly of pickles, candies and salted dry fruit items. The uniqueness of these products is that all the products are prepared from indigenous fruits and vegetables of Manipur.
> LourembamYaiphabi, Founder, Mirror The Beauty Store, Manipur
LourembamYaiphabi is the founder of Mirror – The Beauty Store based in Imphal, Manipur. Having experience working in corporate houses, at the age of 34, she decided to pursue her dream and thus set up Mirror The Beauty Store. She had always dreamt of running a business that would cater to the needs of women. Today, her business is a pioneer in the field of home grooming solutions, which also runs a retail outlet for grooming essentials and accessories.
She provides grooming solutions to women at their doorstep – thus making grooming and self-care accessible for all.
Women Entrepreneurs from Tripura
> Archita Ray, Kanup Hatchery, Tripura
Archita Ray’s hatchery-cum-poultry farm is a source of employment to many women in Tripura. Her firm Kanup Hatchery in Amtali is one of the first private hatcheries in the state of Tripura.
She began her journey in 1995 with a small loan of 5 lakhs to start her poultry business. Soon, in the second phase it suceeded and with the success of the hatchery she was able to repay her government loan and then again in 2007, she took another loan of Rs 19,47,000 from the State Bank of India to further increase hatching capacity of her unit by installing the latest hatching machineries.
A young arts graduate she preferred to venture on her own rather than go for a government job. These women entrepreneurs from North East India have each broken multiple barriers – it’s time to celebrate and cheer these business women and many more unsung women like
> Akshya Shree, Founder, ‘Silpakarman’ and ‘BeYouTea’, Tripura
Akshya Shree is the founder of two brands – ‘Silpakarman’ and ‘BeYouTea – The bamboo leaves tea’. The Tripura-based entrepreneur was awarded the coveted ‘Women Transforming Awards’ for reimagining bamboo products to create rural employment, that was hosted by the apex think tank of Indian Government – NITI Aayog.
Silpakarman provides handcrafted home & kitchen utility products been manufactured by 250+ artisans. Each item is curated with organic and traditional processes. Meanwhile, the flagship product – ‘BeYouTea’, has been generating employment for rural women, and on a remarkable scale, also engages community members who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 pandemic.
> SuchismitaSaha, Founder, Tarubala Girls Foundation, Tripura
Suchismita Saha, an entrepreneur from Tripura, had a dream to help the youth who aspired to chart their own course in life. Having started from humble beginnings she strongly desires to share her journey with young entrepreneurs and those sections of society who are ticked off if they had ambitions and have always been told that their dreams are impossible, unrealistic, improper or not according to societal norms!!
Her ambition is to become a beacon of inspiration for young women of North-eastern state like Tripura, and to teach them that they can make their dreams a reality. All that is required is a willingness to communicate, an unshakeable faith in the power of hard work, and the willingness to test out new waters. Thus she started Tarubala Girls Foundation – for the welfare and empowerment of women through education and training.
> Lovely Baruah, Founder, Fit Bird
After working twelve years with FMCG companies, Lovely Baruah migrated to Tripura from Assam and started her venture – FitBird that deals in handicrafts. Being extremely passionate about her work, she tapped into the potential of the huge number of natural resources like bamboo of different varieties, raw rubbers, skilled labour, etc. that the state of Tripura has to offer.
Lovely provided training to the self-help-groups, clusters, individual artisans, and weavers to help them supply according to market demands via B2B marketing. This prompted the women of both the rural and urban communities – to take up the business to support their families.
FitBird helps artisans and weavers by helping them develop their skills, brainstorm new and innovative ideas and advance in their career. Her driving goal is to deliver to the community, the best products that they deserve. She is also a design consultant under O/o the development commissioner (Handicrafts) NER.