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 Moushumi Pal , the founder at Woodpecker Media.
ST - What led you to entrepreneurship? If not entrepreneurship, what would be your other choices?
Moushumi Pal - I have always been someone with a knack and fondness for the creative field and communications. I had always planned on pursuing a profession and a dream but to expand it to an entrepreneurial venture was not something that I was eyeing on. It was too big a bite at that point of time and I was not sure how I would approach the sheer vastness of it.
Hailing from a small town, I never really dabbled with the idea of entrepreneurship and that further cemented my skepticism to pursue entrepreneurship. I had mentally cut out a path for myself where having a steady job was the ideal way to go.
While it began with an ideal scenario but gradually as life started taking its turns there were serious decisions to be made which were too dear at that time to part with !!! Be it marriage or motherhood they looked more lucrative and satisfying then to make a decision of my career choices. With different phases of life I entered the journey of understanding job versus self employed and balance where I explored a lot about myself, my likes, what impacted me, and discovered the desire to finally do something of my own, the need to make a mark started smouldering within me.
I knew I wanted to be different and there was deep urge within me to make an impact. I read stories of real women who, in their lives, had triumphed over adversities and made their mark in not only the business sector but on the world as well. I am also thankful to some incredibly strong and inspiring women who provided an amazing ecosystem during my journey, rooting for me and encouraging me to grow.
The culmination of all these experiences led me to be an entrepreneur that I am today.
ST - What challenges did you face as a woman entrepreneur and how did you solve them?
Moushumi Pal - When it comes to gender differences in the industry, the challenge mainly lies in the number of levels where a women entrepreneur has to prove her worth to all those who are a part of the market.
Every step and circumstance demands us to be absolutely perfect because anything less than that can dampen our hard work that we have put in so far. That is the sad truth but we have to toughen up, A LOT!
We have to be tough because this position demands that you work late into nights, rise up early with the same vigour, hectic schedules, taking care of your home if you have a family and most importantly, responding to a situation rather than reacting to it.
There is a famous quote which states, “Life is 10% action and 90% your reaction”. There is a huge element of truth present in this small statement that can turn tables around for anyone.
My mantra is plain and simple. Instead of seeing a situation as a problem, I try to engage my energy into finding the solution. For me, it is all about the attitude towards that situation. If you have decided to see the negative attributes of it, you will only see the negatives, but if we seek the positive, positive element is what we shall get.
This is the half battle won where you eradicate hurdles in the form of negativity and convert them into stepping stone for success. We just need to be confident and determined towards what we want to achieve in our lives and have an absolutely clear vision about that. We need to continuously remind ourselves why this business is important, and we must remember that in the end, it is the vision that drives us to develop a successful enterprise.
ST - What policies your company has adopted to support women at your workplace?
Moushumi Pal - The main idea in the company is to allow a free flow of ideas without the hurdles of policies and hierarchies. Being a creative agency, it is important that we give our team members the room to allow them to engage in creative thinking. In a nutshell, we ensure that those working with us have flexibility, more leadership roles and empower them to be the decision makers on behalf of the company.
We are trying to make independent thinkers instead of robotic members.The agency aspires to enable women to forge a successful career while raising a family.
ST - How can working women manage both, home and work?
Moushumi Pal - It all boils down to effective planning and management. While we have a lot of balls to juggle and a lot of struggles to overcome, it is always important to have a strategy in mind for both work and home. We have to be at least 2 steps ahead of everything so that we are prepared for everything that comes our way.
Multi-taking is something that working women ABSOLUTELY HAVE to embrace and do not quiver in the face of hardships. In case you want to slow down, please do so by all means, but there is absolutely no reason for you to quit and leave the fight.
One must not give the business and ecosystem she worked so hard build up in the face adversities. It is all about facing that adversity head on and crashing it down to be the fearless and flawless entrepreneur you are.
ST - Do you think there must be at least one female co-founder, why?
Moushumi Pal - So, in nature, there is always a need to maintain a balance. In the Chinese, it is known as Yin and Yan. I like to believe that having a woman co-founder balances a lot of things out.
Look at Sheryl Sandberg! Mark Zuckerberg hired her when they were not even looking for a COO. He found her intellect and experience to be of value and thus, carved a role for her then and there. She is the one who pushed for Facebook Ads, one of the most successful marketing tools used today in the business.
Having a woman co-founder can bring in the empathetic quotient to the organisation and also bring in the social skills that are usually the forte of the ladies.
ST - As a women entrepreneur, What kind of support have you got from the government? What would you like to suggest?
Moushumi Pal - The government has already taken a lot of steps in order to push for women entrepreneurship. From sustainable business models to subsidised financial help, a lot is being done.
However, there is an impertinent need to foster women entrepreneurship right at the grass-root level in the form of education programs and policies. They must be introduced to the idea of entrepreneurship right from a young age where they can think of themselves as future founders of Indian conglomerates.
ST - Why do you think still women’s contribution is too less in the Indian startup Community?
Moushumi Pal - While it is good that there is a growth in the number of women entrepreneurs in the business scenario, the growth is extremely slow. The way the startup scenario is booming, there is a need to bring in more minds and hands on deck and women can be that reinforcement that is important for the growth trajectory.
There is a HUGE scope for women entrepreneurs to make their mark in the business world as there is always a need for bright minds to lead from the front.
As female entrepreneurs, we can always use a helping hand when it comes to helping fellow colleagues to grow their skills, business, and network. We can become mentors and offer direct support to female entrepreneurs, to create a chain to set up a great career that she, in turn, can pass on, too.