5 women entrepreneurs who are empowering SMEs in India

By Tenzin Norzom|15th Jun 2020
From mining insights from data using technology, to helping SMEs maintain a regular book of accounts for transparency, here are four women-led startups that are helping the sector thrive.
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Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are considered as the backbone of the Indian economy. In 2018-19, MSME-related products accounted for 48.1 percent of India’s total exports, according to Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics (DGCIS). 


However, small business owners deal with various challenges brought on by limited resources and investment interest from outside. Several businesses fail due to a lack of organisational skills and an inability to fulfil regulatory compliances. Still, others get left behind because they don’t adopt modern technologies quickly enough.


Several pertinent women entrepreneurs have seen the problem up close and decided to fill some of those gaps by launching their own startups that work in step with SMEs.


Here are four women-led startups that are helping SMEs thrive by providing services such as data analytics, and account book maintenance, as well as facilitating regulatory compliances.


SME

(From L to R clockwise) Shristi Banka, Founder of Banka & Banka CFO; Arundhati Mukherjee, Founder of Aaroh; Pritha Datta Chowdhury, Founder of Econolytics; Yashodhara Bajoria and Neha Goenka, Co-founders of CAXpert



Yashodhara Bajoria and Neha Goenka, CAXpert

Yashodhara Bajoria, who once managed a Non-banking Financial Company (NBFC), had seen erroneous and sometimes incomplete books of accounts of companies in the SME sector.


Small business owners usually cannot afford full-time accountants, and those working part-time are not as invested in the work. She noticed the same thing with her sister-in-law, Neha Goenka’s small business.


Realising there was a real need for an accounting service that could simplify, as well as make bookkeeping economical for SMEs, the sisters-in-law founded CAXpert in November 2018.


CAXpert provides simple, convenient, and economical accounting solutions to small and medium enterprises. The startup helps record sales, expenses, orders processing, and time utilisation, and then recommends ways to optimise operations.


The company has partnered with government think tank NITI Aayog’s Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP), and regularly conducts webinars for women.




Pritha Datta Chowdhury, Econolytics

Making data-driven decisions today is the best way an up and coming company can grow faster. Entrepreneur Pritha Datta Chowdhury, recognising the usefulness of such insights, founded Econolytics, a network of data scientists and engineers.


Pritha realised that most SMEs knew buzzwords such as AI, big data, and machine learning, but could not comprehend how those variables affected their companies. They also didn’t know where to start, or how much such a service could cost.


Econolytics was Pritha’s solution for such SMEs. A one-stop-shop for all data-related needs, the startup is a curated marketplace of data scientists and engineers who can be hired by companies, on-demand, and for a flexible duration.


Based in Delhi and Mumbai, the B2B startup earns a commission of 20 percent from each project on its platform.




Shristi Banka, Banka & Banka CFO

A former employee at Ernst & Young, 24-year-old Shristi Banka hails from a family of chartered accountants. She took the entrepreneurial plunge when, during her employment at EY, she saw several SMEs fail because they had no guidance on regulatory compliances.


In September 2019, she started Banka & Banka CFO Services with an initial investment of less than Rs 1 lakh. Based in Mumbai, the company helps SMEs with corporate and statutory compliances like direct taxes, GST, and indirect taxes, regular filings on MCA, corporate governance, etc.


The professional services firm ensures the end-to-end requirements of businesses, in relation to their statutory as well as regulatory compliances, are met so that clients do not have to hire multiple organisations for various services.


The price is determined by the time taken to deliver services, Shristi said, adding the firm only does business with companies who conduct themselves ethically.




Arundhati Mukherjee, Aaroh

Arundhati Mukherjee, 50, has held marketing roles in large marquee companies like TCS, Accenture, and CK Birla Group, working across various industries like IT, auto components, hospitals, consumer durables, and education, among others.


During her tenure at those firms, she learned that SMEs in India were underserved by marketing companies, and in order to bring to them the best-in-class practices and help them succeed in the long run, she founded Aaroh.


She says that while SMEs are the growth-engine of the economy, most marketing and communications agencies do not have a clear strategy and focus for them and thus, remain neglected.


Aaroh helps SMEs define their marketing strategy and communication, regardless of whether they’re looking to grow in India, or expand internationally.


Some of their clients today include Udyogi Safety, Faith Automation, Saintgits, Prakash Labels, ANA designs, Zamya, and Black Tulip, among others. Arundhati, someday, hopes to be the CMO for at least a hundred SMEs.


Edited by Aparajita Saxena

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