India’s progress in terms of business, technology, education, etc. has been nothing short of remarkable. Behind this success, are the enterprising individuals who have contributed to the social and economic growth of the country.
A major aspect that has defined our holistic growth as a country, is that our entrepreneurs do not look at their businesses as just profit-making machines. Instead, they look at entrepreneurship as a way to make a difference in the economy.
This is especially true for our women entrepreneurs who, through their businesses, are trying to promote gender equality, reduce wastage of resources, and create a better society for all.
It is fortunate, then, that out of the 58.5 million entrepreneurs in India, nearly 14% are women – and the number is growing.
Our women business-leaders are taking inspiration from trailblazing women across the globe who are contributing to the betterment of society through their words and actions.
For instance, Greta Thunberg, the Swedish climate change activist whose campaigning against human activity that is causing climate change has gained international recognition or Nirmala Sitharaman, who is India’s first full-time female finance minister.
This Republic Day, let’s celebrate such strong-willed women who are committed to changing the status quo for the greater good of the world and its inhabitants.
Here are some stories of social startups led by women in India:
1. Dipali Mathur, CEO & Co-Founder, Super Smelly – Contributing to Health & Wellness
Dipali is contributing to the country’s health and wellness sector by addressing the concerns of parents and ensuring the health and well-being of future generations.
Her start-up, Super Smelly, manufactures 100% Toxin Free and Made Safe certified personal care products for Gen Z. Each product is tested in French Labs for suitability for the target age group (7-19 years).
Its product portfolio consists of deodorants, face packs, moisturizers, etc. The fragrances are IFRA compliant and there is no stone unturned to ensure safety and efficacy.
In doing so, she ensures that the younger generation does not resort to harsh, chemical-laden products that can harm them in the long run.
Along with creating safe products for Gen Z, Dipali’s startup also spreads awareness around harmful chemicals that are present in personal care products as well as their repercussions such as eczema, hormonal imbalance or cancer.
It also communicates the importance of personal hygiene for teens and tweens, thus creating a healthier future for India.
2. Tanvi Johri, CEO & Co-Founder, Carmesi – Contributing to Sanitation
A chemistry honors graduate from Hindu College, Delhi, Tanvi Johri is the co-founder and CEO at Carmesi, a revolutionary brand that manufactures natural and bio-degradable sanitary pads.
Popularly referred to as the ‘Pad Woman of India’, Tanvi incepted Carmesi after dealing with rashes caused by regular sanitary pads for years.
According to her, she did not take the problem seriously because in India women are conditioned to only visit the doctor if the rash is on your face. Irked by this mindset and tired of suffering, she carried out in-depth research about the cause of rashes. She found that these were a result of the synthetic materials that regular pads are made of.
Thus, Tanvi created Carmesi sanitary pads that are made with bamboo fiber and corn starch.
Currently, Carmesi has around 70,000 customers, of which 40% are based in tier2 cities. On the back of its groundbreaking value proposition, Carmesi has raised $500,000 in angel funding.
Tanvi is not only uplifting the lives of women by offering a safe and natural solution for menstrual care, but also encouraging a slew of women to follow her path of entrepreneurship.
3. Caroline Boudreaux for CSR, Founder, Miracle Foundation – Contributing to CSR
Driven to find every institutionalized child a loving family, America-based social entrepreneur Caroline Boudreaux founded Miracle Foundation, a global non-profit organization working extensively towards empowering children living in institutional care.
While back in 2000, then 28- year old Caroline had all that it takes to lead what can be termed an ‘ideal’ life, she felt a lack of purpose and belonging within.
On a sabbatical off work and a trip to India with her best friend, she came across a local orphanage that changed her whole perception towards life.
Since then, Caroline has been dedicated to making the world a better place for children living in institutions by providing them with food, shelter and education while striving to reunite them with their families or finding them one.
Under her leadership, Miracle Foundation has given thousands of children in India, Africa, Mexico, Sri Lanka, and the US the ‘miracle’ of a happy and fulfilling childhood.
Caroline has been duly recognized for her efforts and bestowed with several awards and media mentions including the Hope Award in 2005, the Impact Award in 2009, the Humanitarian Award by UN’s Austin Chapter in 2017, the Global Visionary by the Union Bank of Switzerland in 2017, and a feature in Turk Pipkin’s 2009 movie: One Peace at a Time’, to name a few.
Equipped with the belief that she is finally paving her way to utter peace, happiness, and contentment, Caroline envisions to find a safe, loving and caring family for every institutionalized child by the year 2040.
4. Sujata Chatterjee, Founder, Twirl.store – Contributing to the Environment
Sujata Chatterjee started Twirl.store in 2017 as an initiative to reduce cloth wastage, encourage women empowerment, conserve natural resources like water, and meet the clothing needs of the less fortunate.
With Twirl, Sujata aims to help consumers with overflowing cupboards, and the millions of people who struggle to find basic clothing. The Twirl team is also completely made up of women.
Twirl collects unwanted clothes from people and rewards them with points that can be redeemed to buy upcycled products on the website. The clothes that have been collected are then either donated or upcycled to create new products.
The upcycling process is done predominantly by women in rural Kolkata, and Sujata feels Twirl’s real achievement is being able to empower so many women and to have provided clothing to nearly 1,500 needy people, especially children and the elderly.
Sujata says she was met with negativity and criticism from people who were skeptical about her being a woman entrepreneur, starting an e-commerce business. However, the more she was discouraged, the more determined she became to succeed. So far, the Twirl team has upcycled over 10,000 products and given new life to over 2,000 pieces of fabric.
5. Meenal Arora, Founder Director, Shemford Group of Schools- Contributing to education
A driven educationalist and a passionate leader with over 16 years of rich experience, Meenal Arora is the Founder Director at Shemford Group of Futuristic Schools, India’s most innovative senior school chain.
At Shemford, she spearheads the Training & Development Department which is responsible for developing intensive training programs for over 5,000 headmistresses and teachers associated with the group.
After securing a degree in B.Com (Hons.) from Hansraj College, University of Delhi, Meenal went on to complete a post-graduate program in Global Business Operations from the prestigious Shri Ram College of Commerce. She then went on to join Shemrock, the parent company of Shemford Group of Futuristic Schools, as the Executive Director.
At Shemrock, India’s leading chain of preschools, she conceptualized a theme-based curriculum that went on to become the foundation of Shemford and Shemrock schools.
She is a key contributor to the ShemEduMAX system which integrates a conducive learning environment, engaging teaching methods and personalized assessment to make learning interesting, engaging and motivating for students.
Meenal is also a celebrated author and parenting expert who has written numerous books and articles related to children, their education and other aspects of parenting. Her articles have been published in leading magazines such as Responsible Parenting, The Progressive Teacher and Women on Top.