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Women leaders are increasingly influencing and changing the face of the Indian entrepreneurial and startup ecosystem
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The indian woman entrepreneur is not a new phenomenon by any stretch of imagination. How else would you describe the ‘Shakti Ammas’ of Hindustan Unilever or the several versions of fashionistas seen today or even the samosa wali aunty below the office building. The entrepreneurial route emerged out of necessity for many, but women in India steadily kept that spirit going. A new world order, where women entrepreneurs challenge status quos and create newer niches, has given wings to that time enduring spirit.
Many leveraged opportunities opened up with growth in technology and the demands of a new Indian consumer, combined with government’s push towards encouraging homegrown entrepreneurs. But only few have sustained and stood out.
Two leading ladies in this context are Falguni Nayar, founder and CEO of Nykaa, an online beauty and wellness destination; and Neerja Birla, founder and Chairperson of Mpower, a social enterprise under Aditya Birla Education Trust. To recognise their efforts and the role they have played in contributing to a larger growth picture in India, Nayar and Birla were awarded BW Disrupt Woman Entrepreneur of the Year 2019 and BW Disrupt Inspirational Woman Entrepreneur of the Year 2019, respectively.
Spot The Leader
The awards were part of the first edition of BW Disrupt Women Entrepreneurship Summit and Awards 2019, which took place on 31 January and 1 February in New Delhi. Following by a nomination and a jury-led process, the awards recognised and celebrated exceptional women entrepreneurs who have moved consumers and peer with their innovation, ideas and inspiration. A total of 14 recipients were applauded during the event.
“We were not only looking for names that have proven their business ideas and shown scale and future readiness in their ventures, but we also set out to recognise some of the newer names who are fast becoming leaders of tomorrow,” said Mahendra Swarup, Founder, Venture Gurukool, the Jury Chair of the awards. Names such as Aditya Prakash Gupta, Partner, GEMs; Rajeev Chitrabhanu, Emeritus CEO & MD, JM Financial Services; and Tej Kapoor, MD & Head, Fosun RZ Capital India were among the jurors. Also in the jury were Harjit Singh, founder, EB5 USA Services; Harbeen Arora, founder and Global Chairperson, ALL Ladies League & Women Economic Forum; Mukta N. Jain, Chairperson, Confederation of APAC Chamber of Commerce & Industry Women Entrepreneurship Council; and Neena Malhotra, Proprietor, Alert Card India.
The award spanned across eight categories and jurors considered nine parameters to arrive at the winners. These included the entrepreneurial journey of the individual, the strategic direction and the financial performance of the company, the disruption factor and market growth. Aspects such as leadership grooming, CSR, achievements and previous awards and the overall entrepreneurial quotient were also gauged.
Phase 1 of the process included inviting nominations. This pool of over 150 entries was subjected to an initial round of vetting to cross-check and ensure company and individual information. The shortlisted entries were presented to the jury panel in a sit-down physical jury meet.
A Diverse Set
“What perhaps stands out about the winners is that we saw a very diverse set of entrepreneurs who are successfully growing their businesses, in many cases identifying and narrowing market gaps. There are also new names on the horizon that must be celebrated for their accomplishments,” added Swarup.
The winners represented several walks of life including technology, fashion & lifestyle, fintech, health, wellness and healthtech, social and creative. While assessing the nominations, jurors took a firm look at the ground realities of the business ideas, the potential of scalability, the USP of the company and the market gap that the company was addressing.
“One of the factors that stands out in the winners is their clarity of thought in what their company represents, and their grasp on their revenue numbers and expected growth,” noted Gupta.
Here we takes a closer look at each of the winning companies and what in their business made them stand out from the rest.