ThinkBig 2017 focused on creating a conducive ecosystem for female entrepreneurs. With over 1600 attendees, 1,500 delegates and 13 insightful sessions, the conference provided a platform to share knowledge and network.
Entrepreneurship is an important engine of growth in the economy, and men are no longer the only drivers. Several women founders have taken the startup ecosystem by storm, and they seem to be at par when it comes to business ideas and skills.
However, there is a significant disproportion in reality. A higher number of men seem to have made a mark in the high-risk world of entrepreneurship and venture-capital backed startups.
As per the sixth economic census, women constitute nearly 13.76 percent of the total entrepreneurs, indicating that only 8.05 million of the 58.5 million entrepreneurs in India are women.
In a bid to help women in their entrepreneurial journey and empower them, the fifth edition of the ThinkBig summit was held at Kingdom of Dreams, Gurugram, on November 13, 2017.
ThinkBig 2017 was part of the ‘Road to GES’ series, the runup to the seventh edition of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in 2017. Hosted by ThinkThrough Consulting (TTC) and WEConnect International, it brought together women entrepreneurs, corporate buyers, government representatives, industry mentors, women industry associations, investors and media to inspire and empower women entrepreneurs.
Parul Soni, Global Managing Partner, TTC, said: “By connecting women entrepreneurs, companies and government on the same platform, ThinkBig 2017 employs a tri-sector approach to nurture an inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem for women-owned businesses. It will help all stakeholders to have meaningful interactions with each other.”
What did ThinkBig 2017 offer?
During the event, Walmart India launched the second edition of the Women Entrepreneurship Development Programme (WEDP), which aims at training 64 women entrepreneurs with various skills through classroom and practical training.
ThinkBig 2017 included 13 power-packed sessions along with a trade show that saw participation from over 1,500 delegates, high profile dignitaries and business leaders such as Jenny Grieser, Senior Director for Women Economic Empowerment at Walmart; Shweta Rajpal Kohli, Head of Public Policy at Uber India; Ritesh Mehta, Head of Policy Programmes - India & South Asia at Facebook; and Vandana Verma, Programme Director at Ikea Foundation.
K Ratna Prabha, Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Karnataka, said, “India is a growing economy and predicted to be the youngest populace in the future. Therefore, growth is inevitable. Women entering the workspace balances out many grey areas in people management. Modernisation has taken over quickly and we need to fill this gap to meet global standards.”
The ThinkBig 2017 sessions had many industry stalwarts participate in discussions on trade, financial policies and inclusion of women in businesses and as entrepreneurs. The sessions included Access to Entrepreneurial Ecosystems as an Enabler, Women Entrepreneurship, From Job Seekers to Job Creators, Engendering Investments, From Policy to Practice and Breaking through Trade Barriers in South Asia.
Lalitha Kumaramangalam, former chairperson of National Commission for Women, said: “Women today are present in every workspace. We have come to understand that we must claim what is ours and not wait for someone to hand it out. ThinkBig 2017 will bring a fundamental change in the ease of doing business and inclusion of women in business and in the workspace.”
Recognising contribution to women entrepreneurship
The platform also felicitated three women for their contribution to the world of women entrepreneurship. The WE-Innovation Award was given to Priti Sawant, of JoulestoWatts Business Solutions; the WE-Inspiration Award was given to Poorvi Chothani, of LawQuest; and the WE-Promote-WE-Award was given to Deepa Pant, of Svatanya.
Poorvi Chothani, the winner of the WE-Inspiration Award
Poorvi Chothani is the Founder of LawQuest and has been practising immigration and employment law for nearly one and a half decades. Currently, she chairs and serves on several committees for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).
In 2003, Poorvi founded LawQuest, which mainly focuses on global and Indian immigration, helping clients in international employment visas and also provides handholding through the immigration process. Today, the brand has a network of over 100 partners globally.
Priti Sawant, the winner of the WE-Promote-WE Award
With over a decade’s experience in staffing, Priti Sawant, Founder of JoulestoWatts Business Solutions, has been instrumental in building a large recruitment engine in India and contributed to one of the largest staffing companies in India.
Founded in 2015, JoulestoWatts Business Solutions is a staffing solution firm which Priti prefers to call a “talent collaboration platform and not traditional acquisition”. The firm provides full-time talent along with contractual, senior and niche talent on 20-plus business models to over 80 clients.
Deepa Pant, the winner of the WE-Innovation Award
A NIFT alumnus, Deepa Pant has over 13 years of experience in the apparel industry and launched Svatanya in 2013. Prior to Svatanya, she has been associated with popular apparel names and served at CXO levels.
In 2015, she founded Svatanya, a social enterprise aimed at empowering underprivileged women. Women are trained to make handcrafted products, which are then sold under private labels. Svatanya products are offered under two Labels – AMARYN (for adults) and My Munchkin (for infants and kids).
Deepa said: “The award recognises the efforts we put in during the last five years towards empowering underprivileged women. It is delightful to witness the evolution of ThinkBig as a platform enabling women entrepreneurs to share knowledge and build strong relationships.”