How These Women Entrepreneurs Are Breaking Stereotypes in Entrepreneurship?

Jeenal Jain Jeenal Jain
Mar 7, 2022 36 min read
How These Women Entrepreneurs Are Breaking Stereotypes in Entrepreneurship?

We are long past the old wives' tale of the pathetic patriarchal society of the past which forced the idea that women cannot be founders, co-founders, or manage businesses successfully. Now, women are not only reigning in the sphere of businesses but also appearing as a powerful force commanding the startup ecosystem much like their male counterparts. Women entrepreneurs are not a myth now but in fact, breaking the stereotypical boundaries built by a regressive world that was male-dominated.

StartupTalky salutes all the women entrepreneurs this Women's Day, who have successfully come out of all the past prejudices and are breaking stereotypes in entrepreneurship!

Here's a list of all the women entrepreneurs of India, who are making a mark in the growing startup ecosystem of the country. So, without further adieu, let's hear it from them ahead.

Nupur Khandelwal | Co-Founder, Navia Life Care
Dimpy Dewan | Co-Founder, Hanchens
Sharmilee Kapur | Founder & Director, Atmantan Wellness Centre
Megha Asher | COO & Co-Founder, Juicy Chemistry
Chaitali Das | Associate VP, Sprink.online, India
Ramya Venkataraman | Founder & CEO, CENTA Pvt Ltd.
Neha Bagaria | Founder & CEO, JobsForHer
Raksha Kothari | Co-founder & Head of Sourcing, Go Desi
Aarti Gill | Co-founder, OZiva
Supriya Kulkarni | MD, Kyzer Software
Arushi Jain | Executive Director, Stayhappi Pharmacy
Bhagyashree Singh | Director & CEO, Merakii
Mansi Vyas | Director, Azafran
Akshaara Lalwani | Founder & CEO , Communicate India
Nidhi Ojha | Co-Founder, Premium Bionaturals
Harleen Gulati | Founder, Totally Infuzd
Mehar Gulati | Founder, Scarlet Relations
Namrata Agarwal | Co-founder, Abbzorb Nutrition
Kavitta Bedi | Co-founder, xtraview.in
Katherine Ernst Meht | Co-founder, xtraview.in
Nidhi Yadav | Founder, Aks Clothings
Dr. Meenu Kumar | Founder, Cosmo Arts
Geeta Singh | Founder & Director, The Yellow Coin Communication
Dr Malini Saba | Founder & Chairman, Saba Group & Anannke Foundations
Amarpreet Rai | Co-Founder & Director of Operations and Development, Sanrai International

Nupur Khandelwal | Co-Founder, Navia Life Care

Women Entrepreneur
Nupur Khandelwal | Co-Founder, Navia Life Care

I (Nupur) started my professional journey working in Corporate and worked for almost 4 years in different companies in various roles. While the learning curve was steep in those 4 years, I always felt that I resonated more with startups’ fast-paced and ever-changing dynamic culture. My passion for doing something that creates real value for society at large was my driving force to move from a 9 to 5 job to co-founding a health-tech start-up. My journey so far as co-founder of Navia Life Care has been extraordinary and the startup learnings are incomparable.

Running a company is demanding and challenging. Working through ambiguity, wearing multiple hats, and taking extra responsibility, especially after working in a stable and structured corporate environment can be very stressful at times. However, what has always kept me going is the impact that we’ve been able to create in the healthcare ecosystem, by digitizing thousands of doctors and hence touching the lives of millions of patients.

Dimpy Dewan | Co-Founder, Hanchens

Women Entrepreneurs breaking stereotypes
Woman Entrepreneur - Dimpy Dewan

Women are best at Multi-tasking, creativity, money-management, negotiation skills, honesty, resilience, compassion, and taking everyone along. These are exactly the skills required to be a successful entrepreneur in building things ground up. I wish to congratulate all the Women Entrepreneurs who have broken the age-old shackles and pre-conceived notions, rules, barriers and paved the way for other women to come to the forefront to be and lead the change. As women, our intent should not be to follow or to trample over any gender but to walk along and make a mark in building solutions for the largest economy in the world and also taking India to the global arena. With folded hands, I also seek and advise complete support from men of their family and workplace to inspire them and back them in whatever little way they can, which gives them wings to fly and thrive in whatever they wish to do.

Sharmilee Kapur | Founder & Director, Atmantan Wellness Centre

Women Entrepreneurs breaking stereotypes
Sharmilee Kapur | Founder, Atmantan Wellness Centre

There are many stereotypes attached to Women entrepreneurs... one that always bothered me was that once women get pregnant or have babies, they can't work! Well, that is so not true... Atmantan was a dream come true for me and when we finally started working in it in 2008, I was pregnant. I remember being plump pregnant, and sitting on long 8 hour meetings for 3-4 days at a stretch, with our overseas architects. There was absolutely no dip in my productivity; in fact, I think we did some of our best work then, proof being this fabulous well-planned Wellness Centre! Even after I delivered my son in August 2008, (13 years ago), I would express myself in the early morning, and go attend these very architect meetings.

I did have to have a family member be with my newborn, check with them every 2-3 hours, and also go through some guilt pangs... but I used to tell myself that Atmantan was my dream and I simply needed to put in the work to make it happen. Yes, I would come back home exhausted from those yummy and happy baby hormones, but I did what was needed, and when it was needed and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

Women are like that... we get stuff done, no matter what. It is true that women break stereotypes every day.

Megha Asher | COO & Co-Founder, Juicy Chemistry

Women Entrepreneurs breaking stereotypes
Megha Asher | COO & Co-Founder, Juicy Chemistry

You know building a successful business is not just about a brilliant idea or great decision-making. It is not limited to one individual. Instead, it takes an army that is religiously working behind the scenes to build the empire. And this army is not just limited to your core team but includes each and everyone from staff to management, your family, and even your house help who manages your household chores to ensure your work goes on smoothly. Success is always a team effort.


Juicy Chemistry Story - Owner | Revenue | Business Model
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Chaitali Das | Associate VP, Sprink.online, India

Women Entrepreneurship
Chaitali Das | Associate VP, Sprink.online, India

Looking at the bigger picture, there has been a paradigm shift to women taking leadership roles in sectors that were previously seen as "male-dominated". Though there have been improvements on social parameters, leading to more acceptance in the business world, women-owned firms or women in leadership roles in healthcare, tech, marketing, food industry, and such other important sectors still somehow remain a minority.

I have always believed that gender does not have anything to do with someone's achievements but certain pressures that women and especially Indian women have to overcome to be able to keep their careers going are too daunting to be overlooked. Even in this century, gender bias at the workplace, being buried under household responsibilities on top of a full-time job, finding the right mentors at the job become deciding factors for women as to whether they want to continue at work.

I consider myself lucky to have worked with an incredible set of people most of the time but at the same time, I have encountered gender stereotypes that hindered me from leading projects or building a support network in male-dominated areas. Over time, I learned to work hard to develop strategies to transform these barriers into opportunities which only helped me in enhancing not just my leadership skills and abilities, but also the overall health of the companies that I've worked with.

Chaitali is the Associate Vice President of Marketing at Sprink.online, a full-stack meal subscription platform, created to make affordable daily personalized meals accessible to people wherever they are – at their homes or workplaces.

Ramya Venkataraman | Founder & CEO, CENTA Pvt Ltd.

Women Entrepreneurs breaking stereotypes
Ramya Venkataraman | Founder & CEO, CENTA Pvt Ltd.

While stereotypes, of course, exist, I (Ramya) find that staying focused on your business goals and having no barriers in your mind are the most important things. With that comes the focus on building skills continuously, building networks, and getting the support of your colleagues as well as family - all relevant for both men and women!

Ramya Venkataraman is the founder and CEO of CENTA Private Limited working with more than half a million teachers on certification, careers, and training. Ramya has been recognized as one of '15 Women Transforming India' by NITI Aayog and UN, as one of '25 women leaders in business and social sectors' by The Economic Times, and a distinguished alum of both her alma maters IIT Delhi and IIM Calcutta.

Neha Bagaria | Founder & CEO, JobsForHer

Neha-Bagaria - Founder, JobsForHer
Neha-Bagaria - Founder, JobsForHer

We need to stop stereotyping roles by gender. There is no job that isn’t a “job for her” and all roles should be opened up for both genders to increase diversity in the workplace.

I found out that nobody prepares young women to realize that men’s and women’s career graphs can look very different. We are trained to believe that a career graph is a straight vertical line that keeps rising. But in fact, it doesn’t have to be. And thus I realized that we need to prepare our women for the kind of career stages that life might throw at them. Just because you need to decelerate or take a break or slow down, doesn’t mean you’re done with your career.  Once your life stage is right, you can get back right where you left off.

Raksha Kothari | Co-founder & Head of Sourcing, Go Desi

Women Entrepreneurs breaking stereotypes
Raksha Kothari | Co-founder & Head of Sourcing, Go Desi

The manufacturing sector is a largely male-dominated field. As one of the very few women here, the biggest challenge I faced was while having to liaise with machine manufacturers, vendors, farmers, and factory staff. One needs to be both tactical and bullish when dealing with them. The latter is not a trait that came naturally to me and had to be learned with time. I realized that standing your ground and being assertive was the only way forward. These are the qualities that have helped me the most in this journey.

Raksha looks after procurement, vendor management, and production. She also takes care of HR & alliances including recruitment, training & development of the workforce as well as tracking the impact on the ground. Under her leadership, Go Desi has employed more than 200 women in their manufacturing setup in Bangalore.


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Aarti Gill | Co-founder, OZiva

Women Entrepreneurs breaking stereotypes
Aarti Gill | Co-founder, OZiva

Entrepreneurship is about being ready to face challenges head-on and never giving up. Every challenge is an opportunity waiting to be explored. No journey is without struggles. I strongly believe that the success of a startup stems from the drive and ability to fight against these hurdles. We have a number of success stories to prove this theory.  For me, it has always been about perseverance. Business models can be figured out if you persist and have the right people by your side.

Our (my co-founder Mihir and me) aim has always been about enabling healthier living. However, when we initially started, the business model had to undergo a few iterations. While the initial ideas did not work out as planned, they gave us an opportunity to understand consumers and the market better. And OZiva was launched in 2016 to cater to the needs of the consumers.

Aarti completed her Bachelor’s in Technology from IIT Roorkee and MBA from INSEAD, France. She has worked across India, US, and Singapore with companies like Credit Suisse, Capital One, and a few tech start-ups. Parallel to her professional life, Aarti also practices OZiva’s core philosophy in her personal life. She ensures that she invests time in bettering her physical and mental wellbeing.

Supriya Kulkarni | MD, Kyzer Software

Women Entrepreneurship
Supriya Kulkarni | MD, Kyzer Software

Entrepreneurship is a complex phenomenon and plays a key role in the economic development of a country. Women entrepreneurs are making significant contributions to global economic health, national competitiveness, and community commerce by bringing many assets to the market.

Based on recent studies, currently, women own less than one-third of small businesses in India and the number is likely to be over 50% in the coming years. The percentage of women entrepreneurs has increased from 7.69% in 1992-93 to 34% in the year 2020-21, but the number still is significantly low.

The number of women in technical courses, professional courses, and engineering streams has shown a tremendous rise. Polytechnics and IITs have only 35% girls out of total enrolled students and very few join and set their own enterprises.

Around 28% of women have an interest in starting an enterprise or are giving it serious thought, compared with 53% of men. Around one in five women come into self-employment from unemployment compared with around one in fifteen for men.

Only 2% of men cite family commitments as a reason for becoming self-employed, compared with 21% of women. Though there has been considerable growth in the number of women opting to work in family-owned businesses, they still have lower status and face more operational challenges in running businesses.

Working in a male-dominated world, woman entrepreneurs face continuous challenges of proving their worth over and over again. The key requirements of expertise, experience, leadership qualities, business acumen, and foresight get challenged so much more from a woman in the ever-changing business environments. As entrepreneurs, one has to overlook public perceptions, reassess market expectations and realign and move ahead to achieve one's vision.

Facing major complications during audits for corporates, Supriya Kulkarni co-founded Kyzer Software. It’s one of the leading banking and financial organizations that came into existence in the year 2016. The firm is focused on the creation of banking RegTech, Trade Finance, and automation products, which supports a wide range of trade products and multiple regulations within a unified platform. Supriya is, at present, the Managing Director of Kyzer.

Also Read: Top 5 Female-Founded Fashion Brands in India in 2021


Arushi Jain | Executive Director, Stayhappi Pharmacy

Women Entrepreneurs breaking stereotypes
StayHappi Pharmacy

Every year on November 19, Women’s Entrepreneurship Day is observed to acknowledge, support, and celebrate the invaluable contribution of women business leaders and entrepreneurs towards economic growth and development.

Women are no strangers to entrepreneurship. They have been breaking barriers and leading the way for fellow boss ladies since the 19th century. From running home-based businesses to scaling large teams, women have come so far, breaking glass ceilings along the way.

Women entrepreneurs can contribute to the economy as job creators, which is a spacewoman, are rapidly taking to across India. With adequate support, women entrepreneurs could fuel India’s economic growth ambitions.

I firmly believe that women of tomorrow will surely break this stereotype and not be limited to pursuing only the fields of fashion, art, dance, music, etc. We can break these shackles by attaining knowledge and becoming financially independent-which is the key to liberation. I’ve learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances. I think the key is for women not to set any limits.

Arushi Jain is an award-winning executive who received the prestigious ‘Young Entrepreneur Award’ at the India CSR Summit 2018, at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. After holding a key position in a prominent firm like Ernst & Young, Ms. Jain has brought forward her expertise of Strategy, Audits, Taxation, and Financial matrix to play a vital role in StayHappi’s progress across the nation and continues her influential part for the foremost business decisions.

Bhagyashree Singh | Director & CEO, Merakii

Women Entrepreneurs breaking stereotypes
Bhagyashree Singh | Director & CEO, Merakii

It's not about what you did in a month or a year; it's about making the best of the 24 hours that you have. Women don't have to be perfect to run the show. Be unapologetic and do it your way. Keep the guilt away, be yourself and own it all. You don't have to conquer the world; you just have to find your strength.

Mansi Vyas | Director, Azafran

Women Entrepreneurs breaking stereotypes
Azafran

Women are known to be excellent multitaskers so when it comes to being an entrepreneur,  it doesn't surprise me when I see several women leaders coming to the limelight these days as they were always there silently fostering brilliant ventures. It gives me immense pride to be. a part of Azafran's journey. At Azafran, we aren't just frontrunners but also advocate consciousness and sustainable living through our wide range of organic and natural products be it skincare, baby care, food, and nutraceuticals. This Women's Entrepreneur's Day we aim to nurture our organic & natural philosophy not because it's the need of the hour but because it is the right way to lead a happy and fulfilling life on our planet.


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Women like Ghazal Alagh in India have not only stepped into the corporate world but have also begun to make a mark in entrepreneurship.

Akshaara Lalwani | Founder & CEO , Communicate India

Women Entrepreneurs breaking stereotypes
Akshaara Lalwani | Founder & CEO, Communicate India

Women-led companies and businesses have tremendous potential to grow and affect real change in the economies of countries. I (Akshaara) believe that as a woman entrepreneur, I am empowered to lead an organisation that creates more opportunities for women, and I have the ability to eliminate problems such as the gender pay gap.  When women devote themselves to an organisation, they are passionate, compassionate and 100 percent committed to the job, such dedication can do nothing but help catapult companies to the heights of success. Despite the phenomenal performance of various women-led companies, women entrepreneurs still face a slew of challenges such as biased perceptions and rigid social norms. Young women entrepreneurs have it even tougher as they're trying hard to build networks in the industry but are often brushed aside due to their "lack of experience". Nonetheless, I strongly believe in the words of Frida Kahlo -  "At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.

Also Read: The Challenges Women Face as Entrepreneurs

Nidhi Ojha | Co-Founder, Premium Bionaturals

Women Entrepreneurs breaking stereotypes
Nidhi Ojha | Co-Founder, Premium Bionaturals

Never underestimate a woman, her instincts, or her capability. We are the biggest untapped pool of talent in the WORLD! Premium Bionaturals is a result of that and keeps us pushing harder. Look how far the expectation of cleaning, cooking, and keeping the family safe has brought us! Today, we Women do it all, with our biodegradable and non-toxic range of home care, Hygenic, and pushing others to achieve the same.

Premium Bionaturals is a result of two sisters, Kirti and Nidhi, who want to give back to the planet and lead a safer lifestyle in the form of eco-friendly, toxin-free products used in our daily lives.

Harleen Gulati | Founder, Totally Infuzd

Women Entrepreneurs breaking stereotypes
Harleen Gulati | Founder, Totally Infuzd

A mother can start a business and run it too because she knows what it takes to multitask like an entrepreneur. So she can brew a tea cuppa at home and can simultaneously ace at running a tea business too!

Founded by a mother of two, Totally Infuzd is the brainchild of Harleen  Gulati. Being an advocate of healthy living, Harleen Gulati discovered a  gap in the Indian market for wellness teas that cater to perfecting well-being and she thought of stepping in by setting up Totally Infuzd with a touch of luxury. While Harleen Gulati was a renowned nutritionist,  she has also trained from the Asian School of Tea. By rounding up the perfect balance of nutrition and tea variants, Totally Infuzd is crafted lovingly by her with the support from the local farmers!


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Mehar Gulati | Founder, Scarlet Relations

Women Entrepreneurs breaking stereotypes
Mehar Gulati | Founder, Scarlet Relations

At Scarlet Relations, we are an all-women run team because we feel that each woman has the ability to rise above the glass ceiling. Who other than women can be better at marketing and communications, We women are anyways known for gossiping and showing off!

Mehar Gulati, a creative strategist & business developer has been trained under the finest minds at the London College of Fashion. After studying Fashion Public Relations and communications, her passion translated to the profession for Mehar at an early stage. Her zealous drive and ambition had her managing the outreach strategies of multiple brands globally. Working with over 20 clients in the Luxury sector in her time at different agencies for 3 years + (Fashion, Retail, F&B,  Hospitality, Wellness, FMCG) she followed the trend in and out. Her work as the Founder of Scarlet helps reinforce the primary reason why she opted to join the industry in the first place: the joy of delivering  (qualitatively and quantitatively) on the faith that clients place in her. At  Scarlet, she adorned the entrepreneurial hat whereby she helps various brands to structure their social media, consult on building the right strategies, and assists in collaborations for sound presence!


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Namrata Agarwal | Co-founder, Abbzorb Nutrition

Women Entrepreneurs breaking stereotypes
Abbzorb

You know what a woman can do in the world with protein powders and supplements? She can launch Abbzorb Nutrition and bring world-class quality wellness supplements at an affordable price to your home!

Abbzorb is a brainchild of Anish Garg and Namrata Agarwal. Founded in the year 2019, Abbzorb is a result of the duo that aims to bring high-quality nutrition and wellness to Indian consumers at affordable prices. Tormented to see the disorganized wellness market in India whereby fake and adulterated products had led to a lot of problems, the duo ventured to start Abbzorb which could help restore the trust of people towards dietary supplements.

Namrata Agarwal joined hands with Abbzorb to ensure that consumers can rely on Indian-made products that are supported by independent internationally accredited lab results. She ensures that the quality of these products is at par with the customer expectations and plays a crucial role in the organizational and logistical frontiers of Abbzorb.

Headquartered in New Delhi, Abbzorb started its journey to formulate world-class products like Whey Based Proteins and Amino derivatives like creatine, BCAAs, and glutamine. It's the relentless effort and pursuit of the duo who took about a year to prepare the right formulation of authentic and cost-effective supplements before launching in the market. Supported by their in-house research team, they have a full-functioning lab that houses the required equipment to help them formulate the finest selection of products.

Kavitta Bedi | Co-founder, xtraview.in

Women Entrepreneurs breaking stereotypes
Kavitta Bedi | Co-founder, xtraview.in

I became an entrepreneur inspired by my daughter’s need of the hour which was her college interview! Since there was no formal lesson on cracking an interview, I knew I had to do something about it for students like my daughter. I would say one shouldn’t be afraid of going after what one believes one can make successful. Have faith and confidence in your own ability. Don't be afraid to get pushed out of your comfort zone but always set boundaries and know when you need to pull out and stop. Be secure in who you are. To me, feminism is just having the choice to choose. Make your own choices and then be happy with them. Continue to learn, up-skill yourself and widen your horizon.

Kavitta B Bedi is the founder and CEO of JBC INC (Just Because its Children), where she brings in broadway theatricals from overseas for children and family audiences all across India. The repertoire of shows includes Barney Live, Spiderman Live, Noddy Live, Jungle Book Jive, Geronimo Stilton Live, etc. These shows have been done in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Dubai, Singapore, etc., An entrepreneur at heart, she is also an angel investor with investments in Tech Startups across Crowd Funding, Food Tech, Supply Chain, Health Tech, and now Ed Tech.

Also Read: Schemes Introduced By Government To Empower Women


Katherine Ernst Meht | Co-founder, xtraview.in

Women Entrepreneurs breaking stereotypes
Katherine Ernst Meht | Co-founder, xtraview.in

There are unique challenges that female entrepreneurs face, be it balancing work and motherhood, or striving to establish credibility in the workplace. Rather than treating these as “weaknesses” and trying to mask these and emulate our male counterparts, we must learn to play to our strengths, and use those to our advantage to succeed in a competitive environment. I remember resuming work in a few weeks of delivering my daughter! Such strength and inspiration came from my mother whom I’d seen managing multiple businesses in our childhood. I learned a lot from her. The art of raising ideal kids and being successful in a profession at the same time.

Katherine Ernst Mehta is the CEO and Founder of Edvanta Consulting, where she works with international high school students across India, Singapore, Indonesia, and the UK to help them navigate the US undergraduate admission process, and gain admission to their best fit colleges. Katherine graduated magna cum laude from Kenyon College, Ohio, where she majored in Anthropology, Dance & Drama. She built a career in international education after first coming to India as a student and researcher in 2009.

Nidhi Yadav | Founder, Aks Clothings

Women Entrepreneurs breaking stereotypes
Nidhi Yadav | Founder, Aks Clothings

Women are taking the world by storm with their innovative products and articulate business strategies. The fierce passion of women entrepreneurs is breaking the gender stereotype and the generally accepted societal norm by stepping up outside the walls of their homes. However, the journey for women entrepreneurs remains a rocky one rather, in comparison to their male counterparts. Hurdles such as rife competition, scarcity in funding, reservation from the society, low-risk appetite, lower literacy, etc are very common amongst women because of the predominantly male-centric atmosphere that creates a resistance for the women to enter the business. Such was my experience as well when I began Aks Clothings.  When you are a woman entrepreneur, the difficult part is not the inception but how you keep your business running and healthy once you have begun. The struggle is to find trustworthy investors and channels to source your product. Nonetheless, if you have your vision clear and a supportive team by your side, finding other ancillary elements would not be a far away dream.

Dr. Meenu Kumar | Founder, Cosmo Arts

Women Entrepreneurs breaking stereotypes
Dr. Meenu Kumar | Founder, Cosmo Arts

The life of an entrepreneur is filled with challenges and mine has been no different. When I entered the market, I faced two major challenges. The first one was the lack of network - in the form of clients and partners.

For me, business never came from family or close friends. Even if we were able to get a contact, it wouldn’t last more than a year or two. So, I had to step out of my comfort zone to build the right kind of network. I accomplished this by joining business networking groups and social media and online portals. I expanded my horizon by reaching out to interior designers, architects, and art connoisseurs through exhibitions, shows, and online portals.

The second major challenge was to create something exquisite yet environmentally sustainable. We dealt with this challenge by creating in-house art pieces using recyclable materials like paper mache, discarded mannequins, old clothes, polythene, etc. This way, we were able to create art installations that were not only unique but sustainable as well. This approach eventually brought us a lot of success. Challenges are a part of life and we all have our own. At the end of the day, it’s not the intensity of challenges but your attitude towards them that determines whether you’ll fail or succeed.

Geeta Singh | Founder & Director, The Yellow Coin Communication

Women Entrepreneurs breaking stereotypes
Geeta Singh | Founder & Director, The Yellow Coin Communication

The first challenge that I faced was running a business without having any sort of business background. And things are getting better now but if you are a woman taking on the world alone, people don’t often take you seriously. But I kept persevering until my body of work began doing the talking for me.

Even though I’ve been in the industry for quite a while now, I still deal with new challenges every day, and that I believe, is just part of being an entrepreneur. From hiring and retaining good employees to hiring and retaining good clients, everything is a challenge. The solution is that you have to give your 200%, and there are times when even that isn’t enough. But I take everything in stride and keep moving forward. It’s the only thing I know.

Dr Malini Saba | Founder & Chairman, Saba Group & Anannke Foundations

Dr Malini Saba, Founder & Chairman, Saba Group & Anannke Foundation
Dr Malini Saba, Founder & Chairman, Saba Group & Anannke Foundation

The thought that women are weak and that they should be protected creates an environment that daunts women from taking charge of their lives. Women are bad at tech, women are terrible drivers, and white women are beautiful, these are the common stereotypes women of all cultures face daily. I want to create and foster a culture for women in male-dominated areas, so I focus on hiring women in my companies. I have experienced that women are more assertive, passionate, and persuasive. They have a stronger need to get things done and are good at benchmarking their ideas to set a goal.

Through our vocational training and awareness-raising campaigns targeted at ground level, we are making attempts to change mind-sets and bring people's attention towards the problems that plague women: sexual harassment, domestic violence and other gender-based violence, bullying at the workplace, and rape. We want to change the perception of what masculinity means, what is permissible and what is not.

This International Women’s Day, I want to tell each woman out there to stop being sorry for no reason, exude confidence and command the respect that you deserve.

Amarpreet Rai | Co-Founder & Director of Operations and Development, Sanrai International

Amarpreet Rai | Co-Founder -Sanrai International
Amarpreet Rai | Co-Founder -Sanrai International

Recognizing that commitment and perseverance can overcome all of the hurdles can be the key to success of women entrepreneurs. Signing that first contract in a male dominated medical industry, gave a boost to my confidence as I could convince my counterparts to take a chance by showing our commitment and by preserving. Thesedays, women are taking up such challenging roles and are leading by example.

Anchal Mehta | Founder, The Knowbility

Anchal Mehta - Founder, The Knowbility
Anchal Mehta - Founder, The Knowbility

A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.” - Diane Mariechild Women have been known for multi tasking, creativity, leadership and team management. These skills can be found in any successful business owner. These days women have started breaking the shackles of stereotypes that tie them to household chores and desk jobs. We can see the trend of emerging women entrepreneurs, creating their own products, selling products and managing resources on and off the internet and paving way for new ways of earning. The preconceived notion that only men can run a successful business has quickly started disappearing as we see more and more women entrepreneurs taking the lead and even supporting their men as the bread winners of their household. Teenagers, students, mother's, grandmother's, young and old, rich and underprivileged, educated and illiterate, women from all over the world have been inspired that they can make a boss out of themselves and take the lead on their lives. We've long being told that women belong to the kitchens whereas now we can clearly see that women belong to themselves and are the boss of their own lives.

Shruti Aggarwal | Co-founder, Stashfin

Shruti Aggarwal - Co-founder, Stashfin
Shruti Aggarwal - Co-founder, Stashfin

The first and most pertinent step to breaking stereotypes is to call ourselves just entrepreneurs, and not ‘women or female entrepreneurs’. Every perceived male space, importantly finance, now has women at the helm. Think about any industry – finance, healthcare, education, wellness, communication, automobiles – and you’ll likely find a woman at the lead. This is when women have been able to prove people wrong who believed ‘women can’t be good with numbers’; ‘women can’t run their own business’; ‘women can’t be the bread-earners’; and so many other biases. We have come a long way and now the mind-set is also changing to ‘she can’ vs ‘she can’t’.

My company, Stashfin, operates in the fintech space where we firmly believe that ‘Nobody in India should be credit starved’. And this includes women. In fact, I take it as my personal mission to dispel any myth that one might have about women and finances, women and investments – essentially women and money. It’s not as confusing or as difficult as it’s perceived to be. Numbers are exciting. Being an entrepreneur in this space is even better, because it’s when I see more women being financially aware, when they learn to take charge of their investments, their taxes, their money, that I know that - ‘women can’.

Ms Charushilla Narula Bajpai | Founder, Director & Key Mentor, University Connection

To begin with, it’s not uncommon for a woman to lead as an influencer at home or take charge of an ailing in-law, or double up as a teacher mentor for her children. She’s never put herself into a stereotype yet every time she acts on instinct, it’s often the world outside that sees her as different. My mother decided to participate in a beauty pageant at 60; around the same time my daughter chose to launch her first music score at 16 – were they breaking stereotypes? They were just being themselves and thankfully their environment was allowing them. Even as an entrepreneur, I’ve decided to run an all-women team at University Connection because it’s been the most natural choice. We are an extremely cohesive, collaborative, do not bicker, mean business, respect each other’s boundaries including the importance of time with family and personal goals besides professional ones! Just let a women be; she’s created to bring awe in the awesome. Another thought: From science to design to chemicals and financial know how, women are breaking barriers and allowing themselves to excel. At our college planning organisation, University Connection, we now increasing find young women students, aspiring for a career in politics, international relations, engineering and Economics.

Sakshi Aggarwal | Founder, Gharobaar.com

Well, clichés like don’t think of switching your career once you are married or have kids, business or entrepreneurship is men’s domain, instead of career focus on your family- these are the things that have hindered progress of women from ages. But the good part is that we are increasingly seeing many amazing women out there who are breaking all the shackles and succeeding.

It is no longer believed that starting a business post your 30’s is too late. Women are proving that ‘age is just a number’, and women like Falguni Nayar who founded Nykaa at the age of 50 are setting the perfect examples for us. Stories like these are paramount to breaking all the baseless stereotypes that have been created in our society.

Sejal Pravin Purohit | Founder, Seven Spring

From my viewpoint,

1) Women are now more aware of their law rights and strength. They know if they can give birth, they can do anything so they are breaking these stereotype that women are fragile.

2) Women are everywhere from space, politics to farming. It is written in our history and science that though we are all human beings, men and women think differently so world gets more opinions and new prospective due to women as they are breaking the stereotype by leading in every field (From home to Mars)

3) Earlier It was said that women are very emotional. However, women who are leading in the corporate field have proved that its nothing wrong to have high EQs as every organizational issue (be it home, corporate or country) can be solved amicably and nicely by being little empathetic and emotional, and women have broken that stereotype that women cannot lead or take decisions because they are emotional.

4) Women play so many roles where one role demands her to be very loving and emotional and at the same time other role demands her to be practical and bold. She plays every role efficiently and more than anything, she is the perfect example to describe that with efficient time management skills, one can do wonders. So here she is breaking this stereotype that it’s difficult to play many roles.

Ankita Riva, Co-Founder & COO, Zymrat

Women entrepreneurs have let the world know that they are here to take the stand, they are here to make moves and they are not one step behind. Women, today, are standing right at the front and we are being unapologetic about it. From ringing a bell at NASDAQ to listing companies on BSE, women entrepreneurs are now one step ahead of the curve.

Anamika Pandey, Founder, Naario

Women Entrepreneurs are breaking the glass celeing in very many ways today. Primarily just by showing up in increasing numbers. When a woman starts up, she is motivating tens and hundreds of women to do the same. When a woman backs another woman entrepreneur she is telling everyone that backing women founders is the need of the hour. When a woman starts talking about sales in her venture, she is telling every single person that women and sales can go hand in hand, in India and across the world. And it is not a taboo.

When a small female entrepreneur puts up a stall in a festival, she’s proving that she is confident and can run the show, at home and in business, despite having hudred responsibities. When a female entrepreneur builds her team she is telling all the team members that women can be in command yet lead with empathy. When a woman entrepreneur starts learning technology and talking data, she is telling everyone around her that she is more than what meets the eye. She can build things.

Shwetal Shubhadeep, Co-Founder & COO, Nworx

Today women entrepreneurs are role modeling that it is acceptable for them to be ambitious and a reality for them to be successful. They are also role-modeling, how to gracefully balance the many roles they play in their life and, in the process, be unapologetic to ask for support. The definition of ‘role of a woman’ and ‘capability of a woman’ is fast expanding. My wish is to have a day when the courage and strength of an entrepreneur are celebrated, and gender becomes irrelevant.

Meenakshi Dubey, Co-Founder, Yes!poho

Women entrepreneurs, who were once pursuing unpaid labor in olden times from setting pickles under the sun to crocheting sweaters and apparels for their near and dear ones, are now stepping up to become entreprenaaris. Establishing our presence in every domain from FMCG to finance, law to artistry, MNCs to encouraging saree-based businesses, women are shattering the glass ceilings of stereotypes. In former times, (in some cases, even a few years back), there was a stigma around women heading out to earn because relying on daughters, sisters, mothers etc. for daily chores seemed okay but their income was still considered something to be embarrassed or ashamed of - sidelining the entire idea of working women entrepreneurs. However, the years and years of rebellion has finally resulted in women taking accountability of their careers and fanning the fire of their ambitions to be at the top of their professional game. De-stigmatising the growth from a house-wife, mother, daughter or sister to entrepreneurs, founders, CEOs and women that slay the markets like a dragon with passion - the times have changed and the ladies are taking the lead with their due credits and recognition.

Pragati Agarwala, Partner, Three Fourth Solutions

The word 'Entrepreneurship', in itself is a paradox with stereotypes. This is particularly true in terms of female entrepreneurs. Whenever a woman sets out to make a change, or lead from the helm - there's a lot of flak she has to face and keep proving herself. For instance, dealing with situations where "log kya kahenge" or "she's a woman, what can she do?" or 'Why should we be lead by a girl?' and so on, is still quite commonplace today.

The mere existence and continued use of feminised descriptions of entrepreneurship gives the perception that entrepreneurial activity is a largely a male preserve. Such stereotyping has an impact.

However, our times are changing, and there is hope with figures such as Vineeta Singh, Vani Kola that are constantly challenging the norm from the forefront and helping make the workplace a more female friendly space as a whole. At TFS, we ourselves are an organisation that is 90% women dominated, and how! Each of the women on my team are constantly breaking the bias and proving with their work that women can achieve anything that we set our minds to do. The sky is the limit for their dreams, and we hope to continue enabling them to keep reaching higher!

Ms. Dolly Kumar, Founder and Director, Cosmic Nutracos Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

Maintaining a balance between work and home is a task, but it is vital to success and quality of life. Today we see women holding significant positions in all walks of life and even incepting their own companies. I believe that women have come a long way, breaking the barriers and creating an ecosystem where the young generation feels motivated and encouraged to start their entrepreneurial journey. Today, when I look at young women talking about business, striving hard for their dreams, and not restricting themselves in a cage, I feel elated and delighted to hear their challenges and how they tackle them.

I started my entrepreneurial journey with a health and wellness brand- Gaia - a primarily male-dominated industry. However, I didn’t stop and kept working towards it, making it one of the frontrunners in the industry, upping consumers’ health and wellness quotient. Being a cosmetic engineer, I always had an interest in the beauty industry and realized a gap in the skincare market for the younger generation. So I researched it and launched Skinella, a skincare brand that uses superfoods’ formulation to target teenagers and younger girls. Gradually, I’m creating an environment where women can come out of their zones and build an empire that believes in equality.

Ms. Preety Tyagi, Lead Health Coach, Nutritionist and Founder of MY22BMI

Entrepreneurship is a field of business that is seasoned with various stereotypes, especially when it comes to women. Women starting a business of any kind are often termed with women-specific names such as mumpreneurs or femprenuers etc. Even the businesses are often expected to be something related to makeup, grooming, or fashion accessories. The mere notion of using such terms to define a women-owned business means that businesses and entrepreneurship are otherwise, a male-dominated reserve. However, the reality is far from this. There are women entrepreneurs in every field and all over the world, who are owning, manage, and leading businesses entirely by themselves. They are breaking stereotypes in each and every sector and field, be it automobiles, be it sports, be it science and technology, everywhere. However, such stereotyping and branding of such women-owned businesses has its own impact and fallbacks.

The existence of such bias in the world of entrepreneurship is what makes it hard for many women to step out there and start on their own. For example, in the Indian economy, if women started businesses at the same pace as men, there would be at least a million more entrepreneurs in India. Even when the number of women entrepreneurs is on the increase, it still shows that a lot needs to be done in order to break the unthought-of bias and to remove the straight sexism that is present in society. And it also shows that breaking the bias is not only essential for women but the economy of our society as a whole.

Shaily Shah, Co-founder, Elevo (Powered by Tarrakki)

It is clear that women entrepreneurs are impacted by stereotypes. As per the study, 70% of women entrepreneurs highlights that gender stereotypes, social approval or disapproval have an impact on them. But the new age living and advancement of women have started to gradually see the change in how the women are breaking the stereotypes inorder to achieve their goals. According to me,  here are the pointers to break the stereotypes :-

1)Rise in awareness of how entrepreneurship, economic participation, and other financial participation helps one be stable

2)To take concrete measures to eliminate the stereotypes and their negative impacts both in public and private spheres

3)To raise awareness about realisation of rights and equal opportunities, those related to economic participation & entrepreneurship.

The upcoming years will be captivating to see the women entrepreneurs thrive for their goals.

Kruti Mehta, Founder, Vivaa Consulting

I don’t think gender has anything to do with breaking stereotypes, honestly. Anyone can champion making a change after all, so why should the onus lie with one gender. It’s more about an attitude in general, and entrepreneurs by nature have an attitude of challenging the norms or looking for a problem to solve. Having said that, having more women lead startups can definitely serve as a great inspiration for anyone wanting to make a switch from a job to a business or anyone who has an idea that they want to chase but haven’t so far. So I would like to think the courage is infectious for sure.

What women do bring to the table is an opportunity to bring awareness about unconscious biases that have existed thus far which have led to pay gaps or  the glass ceilings that we all know and hear about. With more women choosing to lead,  hopefully with time there will be ample of chances to challenge and change those biases to ensure equity and opportunity regardless of our gender!

Tanul Mishra, CEO, Afthonia Lab

Today we see more women at the senior-most levels in multinationals. However, the Indian fintech sector still lags behind when it comes to the number of women in the industry. Therefore, I feel that there is a need to channel the resources, in order to make these opportunities reach more women, which will help in the growth of the country’s economy. The aim is to always be gender inclusive and seek growth, with ability defined roles rather than their gender.

A better and more sustainable ecosystem that helps in overall enhancement will change the entrepreneurial journey of women in our country.

Naina Ruhail, Founder, Vanity Wagon

From being unable to voice their opinions in a male-dominated society to becoming absolutely fearless in doing so, women have broken stereotypes and how! Time and again, it has been proven that women have to go through hardships in the littlest of things. But gone are the days when the patriarchal leash held us back. It is high time that we now start acknowledging the struggles and challenges we face as women. With the rise in women taking charge of leadership roles and the emerging number of successful women entrepreneurs in India, it's evident that we have challenged the norms and crafted a space for ourselves in the business realm and made it our niche. Today, more women are starting businesses at a much faster rate than men, making significant contributions to job creation and economic growth. We have proven ourselves and our endless capabilities to break the glass ceiling time and again!

Shreya Sharma, C.E.O and Founder, Rest The Case

Women of all ages are entrepreneurs now, right from someone who is in their 50s to younger women in 20s. They are in all fields regardless of gender. whether its finance, law or doctors which were initially male dominated industries now have women leading the way as well.

Namrata Bajaj, Co-founder, Tatsa - Skincare made Simple

As challenging as it may get, women of today are out there in every field working and crossing hurdles with an invisible crown on their heads. There is no hidden truth in women entrepreneurs breaking every kind of stereotype there is. One being Gender discrimination, which is as popular as having ‘chai’ in this country, you almost wake up to it every morning.

I personally feel women were always born to do extraordinary things. We ace, strive for perfection in the smallest & biggest of tasks and we get the work done.

According to reports women make up 13.76 per cent of entrepreneurs in India. It is only a matter of time before this number goes up. After widely promoting and supporting women entrepreneurs in reality shows which also involved major women judges, it all proved how women are breaking stereotypes within their own industries that were male-dominated.

This women’s day I would encourage each woman out there to strive for the stars, achieve everything they have dreamt of and shatter every preconceived notion there could be.

Mrs. Neha Singhania, CPO, TradeSmart

In the ever expanding entrepreneurial landscape, we can see a rising percentage of women joining the bandwagon. With India being the third largest contributor to startups and fintechs in the world, we have large number of these businesses and unicorns led by women at the front.

The status quo is changing in most of the sectors as women are proving that the age-old conditioning system or gender inequality only exists in the mind. Women of today are shaped for growth and with widened opportunities, we can expect to see more women-led enterprises in the coming years. Furthermore, women are setting a strong foundation by supporting other women to achieve a gender diverse workforce and having an equal ratio at work.

Ankita Thadani, Co-Founder, Secret Alchemist

Gender stereotyping has had a huge impact on women entrepreneurs, but more and more women choose to step out of these predefined roles to take up new and more divers challenges.

India is changing too, slowly but steadily. We all saw the female dominance in India’s version of Shark Tank. This was the year where we saw Falguni Nayar , self-made billionaire listing her company at the NSE. Looking at the bigger picture, we definitely see a paradigm shift to women taking leadership roles in so many male dominated sector. A true testament to all that the future of India holds.

Ms. Aanchal Bhatia, COO, The Plus Size Store by Meera Creations

Aanchal Bhatia - COO, The Plus size store by Meera Creations
Aanchal Bhatia - COO, The Plus size store by Meera Creations

With thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in India, inclination towards opting for entrepreneurship has increased significantly. Talented and aspiring people are seeing it as a great opportunity. Astonishingly, women have shown an unflinching affection for entrepreneurship and they are making entry into every domain of businesses. They are breaking all stereotypes, leading the company and outperforming their male counterparts with fierce passion and zeal. They are making brilliant decisions, including their companies into the unicorn list, and making collaborations with big corporate houses. They have established their names in the respective fields. Apart from that, they are receiving awards and recognitions for their contributions to the sectors on global platforms. They are not limited to any boundaries. They are just striving to fulfil their aspirations while solving the problems of society and creating a number of employment opportunities for others as well.

Conclusion

Women have indeed progressed long enough from the dark days when they were restricted to their houses, tied to the usual chores inside them. They have indeed lighted up the startup ecosystem with their own entrepreneurial sparks. However, there is always some room for more development when it comes to startups, which aims to build a world convenient for the end-users and profitable for the entrepreneurs but that demands both men and women working hand in hand.

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