Metropolis Healthcare MD Ameera Shah is attempting to build a community of women entrepreneurs with Empoweress, a platform for advice, mentorship and micro funding.
The journey of an entrepreneur is filled with uncertainty and challenges. More so for women as the hurdles they face are not only due to the nature of their work, but also their gender. The conditioning – shepherded towards a safer path while boys are encouraged to dream bigger, riskier – begins early on, and is rather difficult to unlearn.
So when Ameera Shah, MD of Metropolis Healthcare Limited, found herself up against the remnants of a centuries-old patriarchy while scaling her father’s pathology lab from one single unit to a chain of over 150 branches across seven countries, she decided to use her painstakingly acquired clout to bring other women up with her – with her novel, women-centric mentorship programme and a microsite, under the umbrella, Empoweress.
The feedback from the mentoring and speeches she has been doing for the past few years led her to create Empoweress, which aims to empower women with emotional, professional and financial skills.
“What I’ve realised from my sixteen years of experience in building Metropolis Lab is that what drives me more than anything is a human connection. When I share my journey with others and it empowers them, it gives me real joy,” Ameera says.
Launched on December 9, applications for the programme are open round the year. Eleven entrepreneurs have already been absorbed into this programme.
“We are hoping to take this to a sizeable number to be able to do a lot more of the group activities we desire to do,” Ameera says.
While most of these entrepreneurs are women that Ameera came in contact with during her previous mentoring sessions and talks, some of them also got acquainted with Ameera’s work through forums like empower Zone Startups India’s accelerator programme for women. They have also started a digital ad campaign on Facebook and LinkedIn to reach out to as many women as possible.
When the applications come in, they first analyse the business, revenue model, and sale funnel; get market insights; and help the founding team lay down a five-year plan for the business. The hour-long one-on-one sessions take place on a monthly or six-weekly basis.
“Most of the women who we have met are at a nascent stage and need support. We map out prospective challenges, opportunities and steps required to achieve the five-year plan,” Ameera explains.
Her initiative has four key elements:
Mentorship: One of the important aspects of Empoweress is to provide mentorship to these aspirants. “As part of the programme, I will personally meet at least five women to guide them and address their problems related to their business,” she says.
Micro-funds: This platform will not only help in mentorship and information support but also in finance, by connecting entrepreneurs with the right funders. Metropolis will also fund some promising businesses.
Information: Ameera is also launching a microsite with information on how to scale one’s business, how to do sales, and how to turn your idea into a business. Additionally, they plan to shoot videos of women entrepreneurs, leaders and coaches dispensing advice and tips on navigating the various situations that women entrepreneurs typically find themselves in, including insights by Ameera.
A Sisterhood: “We are trying to build a community which helps in providing emotional support to fellow entrepreneurs and also answer their queries through market leaders. Regular networking events for aspirants along with one-on-one sessions with leaders will surely provide these women with the push they need to reach their goals,” she says.
“The overwhelming part of this programme is that most of the situations are related to problems like non-support of the family, aggravation from investors, and how to keep moving when every person is de-motivating them,” she explains.
“I give this advice to women business leaders all the time - ‘Tell yourself, this is how it is. How can I find a way to still get what I want’?” Ameera signs off.