The history of International Women's Day dates back to 1908, when some 15,000 women marched on New York City in the name of better working hours, fairer pay, and the right to vote. Three years later in 1911, the first official IWD was celebrated throughout Europe as more than a million women walked challenging stereotypes for their right and equality.
Women in India have not only stepped into the corporate world but have also begun to make a mark in entrepreneurship. Fast forward even 2020, Women Entrepreneurs comprise 11% of all entrepreneurs in India, which means there are only about 550 women-led companies out of more than 5,000 startups (NASSCOM reports). The number is small and growing slowly, the with all the policy and most importantly mindset change coming up, we will soon see a rise in the same.
March 8 marks International Women’s Day 2020, and we at StartupTalky, also wanted to celebrate the spirit of womanhood with the entrepreneurs who have come out breaking all the barriers to and lead and change the world for the good! let's learn how these women are changing the entrepreneurial landscape and how!
Here is our small interview with Madhura Moulik, Co-Founder, Skilfinity.
ST - Why did you choose to be an entrepreneur? If not entrepreneurship, then what?
Madhura Moulik - I spent my childhood in a remote mining colony, where I grew up as a typical girl-child amongst traditional ideologies, I was no exception. While my parents always wanted me to be well-educated and successful in my career, there was also an expectation of becoming a good homemaker. I guess, as a child, most Indian girls have learnt to be loyal to their families and prioritize it when the time comes to make a choice.
It took me a little more than 30 years to travel around the world and meet women from various cultures and societies to get a wider perspective on how to make non-biased choices in life. That was the time I knew that I wanted to start an enterprise of my own where like-minded people and I, get the opportunity to apply our knowledge without any restriction.
During my early days in business school, I was always keen to study marketing and wanted to pursue a career related to it. It was later when I started working for the corporates I got introduced to the marketing world beyond that of Philip Kotler and got exposed to the complex, fast-changing industry. So, if not entrepreneurship, my career would have always been as a marketer for a corporate with some intermittent struggle to remain motivated.
"""ST - What Challenge did you face as a woman entrepreneur and How did you solve it?
Madhura Moulik - There are more internal challenges than external. Most of the external challenges are not really gender-related but some obstacles every entrepreneur might have faced.Coming from a patriarchal society the biggest challenge for me was decision making. Most Indian women are nor really the final decision-makers in their household, and that sometimes hinders us to make prompt and crucial decisions that are expected from the head of the business.
Early failure of the decisions is important. While you learn to overcome those failures, you gain the confidence to stand by your future decisions. The key is to overcome this mental barrier and start trusting your instincts.
""""ST - What policies your company has adopted to support women at your workplace?
Madhura Moulik - As a startup, all our employees, be it, women or men, get to work from home, get a flexible working hour, fair pay and choose their own holidays. We also have an open-door policy to maintain transparency and resolve various challenges like work pressure, financial need, etc.
While policies are easy to make, it is difficult to build up a culture. The core culture that we want to inculcate is to think like an entrepreneur and not as an employee. So far I have observed that women have an ingrained sense of responsibility and ownership that makes it easier for me to establish this particular school of thought when I am working with women colleagues.
ST - How can working women manage both, home and work?
Madhura Moulik - It gets extremely difficult to manage both home and work. Most working women get burned up and decide to take a sabbatical from their career. I have seen several women struggling to return from a hiatus and fit into daily work life, often questioning their initial choice to take a break from their job. While our society is changing rapidly and there is more and more awareness, the key is to keep going during the dark days and not to quit.
ST - Do you think there must be at least one female co-founder, why?
Madhura Moulik - I think the qualification to become a co-founder should be based on other factors rather than gender. Having a female co-founder for companies that revolve around motherhood, childcare, women fashion, food, healthcare and beauty have been the trend so far. However, more and more women are now penetrating into the businesses that were traditionally been dominated by men and gaining business acumen that they can harness through effective leadership and management. As a co-founder, these new-age women leaders are bringing a fresh perspective for problem-solving, making them extremely invaluable for a new business.
Overall, a diverse leadership attracts a diverse talent group as well as clients, thus directly impacting the company's revenue.
ST - As a women entrepreneur, What kind of support have you got from the government? What would you like to suggest?
Madhura Moulik - No support and neither I've been seeking any so far. To be honest I would appreciate if the government can support women entrepreneurs like me through schemes that can be availed without any administrative complexity.
""""ST - Why do you think still women’s contribution is too less in the Indian startup Community?
Madhura Moulik - Gender diversity in various industries in India is quite low leading to a massive dearth of women leaders who can eventually become part of the startup community. I think the change can happen when parents and even the education system encourage more girl-child to make their own career choices based on their aptitude.
In the current condition, various start-up incubators and government bodies can provide a platform for women entrepreneurs and thus build role-models to inspire the next generation.
ST - If someone is stopping women to become an entrepreneur what advice do you have for her?
Madhura Moulik - If the resistance is only driven by the gender factor, it is important for the person to strongly resist and denounce such obstruction. Any individual should have complete freedom to make their career choices. Especially for women, if there are expectations for them to perform household responsibilities at the cost of their career and subsequently they decide under pressure, it might pave way for bigger discontent in future, thus jeopardizing both personal and professional life. A mature conversation about the consequences of a particular decision might help to resolve the situation.