The women from North East who have come into the limelight, are shining examples of being called – the ‘movers and shakers’ of business. And, like most women entrepreneurs in India, the rural women from the North East have also embarked on their entrepreneurial journey, but at a micro level. They are mostly home-based and have begun with traditionally women-oriented business like garments, handloom, handicraft and fashion, food items and so on. However, in Assam, it is seen that there has been a significant increase in women entrepreneurs.
Here are some women entrepreneurs of Assam who are creating waves in the business world.
> Daisy Brahma, Founder, DB Weaves
In 2017, Daisy Brahma started DB Weaves, where she has three power looms in Kokrajhar, Assam. An NIFT graduate, she had worked with reputed export houses for 8 years before becoming an entrepreneur herself.
Her business used the power looms to make dokhonas, which is the traditional Bodo attire. Dokhonas are worn for all activities in the Bodoland territorial region – from regular wear to festive wear. Trying to also include modern designs, they are trying to cater to broader markets and catch the fancy of new customers. Besides her sales which happens through B2B channels, she also participates in exhibitions in and around Assam. Her competitive advantage is the quality of dokhonas, for she uses only the most comfortable fabric. Investing most of her time in the innovation of new designs for dokhonas, she now plans to expand her business – into uniforms and even wedding dresses.
> TanushreeHazarika, Founder, Tattva Creations & Co-founder, Atvi Infotainment
Tanushree is a passionate serial entrepreneur, focusing on content creation & storytelling, digital news and brand marketing. She founded Tattva Creations in 2010, an agency which provides integrated marketing solutions; and she also started Brahmaputra Valley Film Festival in 2013, which has become a landmark event in promoting Cinema from Northeast India and encouraging budding talents.
Her recent venture is Atvi Infotainment, a content creation company, co-founded in 2018 which aims to do inspiring work in digital media & entertainment. An MBA from Boston University’s, School of Management, she had worked in MNCs like Fidelity and Morgan Stanley in the US before venturing into her entrepreneurial journey in India.
Her first venture was Eclectic Northeast – a print magazine through which she highlighted lesser-known stories from Northeast India. Many awards have come her way too. Starting with the Young Communicator award from the Symbiosis Institute in 2010 the story went ahead with the Outstanding Woman Achiever award by FICCI- FLO in 2013. She is a founding member of the Young Leaders Connect, a platform for young achievers of Northeast India. She is an Aspen fellow and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. She has also served as Jury in the 64th National Film Awards of India.
> Meghalee Bora, Founder & Director, Meghalee Food Products
Meghalee Bora is the lady leading the success of Meghalee Foods. The USP of her food products was that they contained no harmful preservatives. Meghalee Food Products have made a name for itself in the list of top suppliers and is listed in Trade India’s list of verified sellers offering supreme quality of food.
She started this venture in June 1997, and today this unit enjoys a good reputation too. She is also associated with a number of North East Woman Self Help Groups, who supply raw materials to her from across the state and get a readymade market for their goods without having to go through exploitative middlemen.
> Lakhimi Baruah, Founder, Konoklata Mahila Urban Cooperative Bank
Lakhimi Baruah is an Indian banker, social worker and founder of Assam’s first women-run Co- operative bank – Konoklata Mahila Urban Cooperative Bank for women. In 2021 she was awarded the Padma Shri, the fourth-highest civilian award in the Republic of India, for her contributions and efforts to financially empower women of Assam. She opened the KonoklataMahila Co-Operative Bank with 52 promoter members in 1990. The primary objective of the bank was – to provide commercial banking facilities including providing opportunities for self-employment; and to spread a banking habit among women. In pursuing this noble goal, it was an uphill task.
In fact, the credit of establishing the first bank in the state that was exclusively run by and meant for women goes to – LakhimiBaruah. In November 2022 this banker and social worker from Assam, was awarded the Padma Shri (the fourth-highest civilian award in the country) for her contribution to society and her distinguished sincere attempt to financially empower the women of Assam.
Apart from the coveted Padma Shri, she has also received the Devi AhilyaBaiHolkar Award – (2015) and the Jingle award – (2019). The Jorhat district administration selected Baruah as one of the icons for Systematic Voters Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) for the Assembly polls 2021. LakhimiBaruah’s achievements and successful career journey has inspired many and will continue to inspire women of all sections of society in the future.
A receiver of many awards, she works constantly at moving ahead, to spread awareness about Konoklata Bank and taking it to greater heights. This way, they try to reach out to a wider audience of women across the state.
> Paulmie Gogoi and Dr Tanushree Devi, Co-founders, Woven Tales of North East
Guwahati-based Paulmie Gogoi and Dr Tanushree Devi started Woven Tales of North East in 2021. The aim was to make home décor products using a unique material – water hyacinth, a rapidly-growing aquatic weed.
The northeastern states are famous for products made from bamboo and cane, and entering an already-crowded market did not seem like a feasible idea to them. So, they took the decision to explore this fascinating and innovative step – by launching Woven Tales of North East, which offers sustainable and eco-friendly products made from water hyacinth. Their story began during the first phase of the lockdown in March 2020.
When the second wave of COVID-19 struck, business took a hit. They tried the business-to-business (B2B) model of reaching out to clients, especially corporates which worked. And soon,
they began receiving bulk orders for gift hampers. Another business move was when they had a tie-up with the Jar of Hearts, a home décor and furnishing house in Bengaluru, to buy their
products in bulk and sell them.
> Banamallika Choudhury, Founder, NEthing
NEthing is a model conceptualized and initiated by Banamallika Choudhury, which she started in 2017. Her need for a specially creative space was what led to this dream project – which combines a bookstore, a cafe, a store that holds locally-made, environment-friendly products and where people get together to share their poetry, music, writings, thoughts & ideas.
After working in the development sector for a while, shequit and set out to start her own dream project. Here she is bringing together a unique set of things – art, culture, literature, design, activism and ‘adda’.This model that she has developed is unique – because it is on a need-based salary structure, with equal profit-sharing between employees; and the emphasis is on – an equal, environment-friendly businessvis-a-vistypical patriarchal capitalist business.