These women entrepreneurs are being vocal for local and promoting Indian products and services

From Indian handlooms and handicrafts to apps, these four women-led startups have unique offerings with a focus on vocal for local and Aatmarnirbhar Bharat.
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The swadeshi movement or the call for self-reliance played a significant part in India’s fight for independence from the British. Freedom fighters called for the boycott of cheap, machine-made British goods, and urged Indian people to adopt the Indian way of living.

After 73 years of independence, the swadeshi movement has seen a revival in the form of ‘Make in India’ and ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ as endorsed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. With the coronavirus pandemic, being ‘vocal for local’ has also gained momentum.

With consumer demands, trends, and spending patterns also changing, and policy level changes supporting the growth of startups, many new businesses have taken up the cause of being completely made in India brands and supporting Indian products and services.

This Independence day, HerStory highlights some unique women-led startups that fall under the “vocal for local” and aatmanirbhar bharat philosophy.

Supporting local content creators - Shivaarti Bajaj, BoxEngage

Shivaarti Bajaj, Co-founder, BoxEngage

Co-founded by Shivaarti Bajaj, Gurugram-based startup GoParties pivoted from offline events to virtual entertainment during the nationwide lockdown in March. Rebranded as BoxEngage, it emerged as India’s alternative to TikTok. The web-based video content platform grew by 10x just a day after the government announced the ban of 59 Chinese apps.

BoxEngage is supporting Indian content creators and talents and has over a million users on board already. “Content creators can make short and long recorded videos, livestream, and celebrities and influencers can also host private sessions to engage with their followers,” Shivaarti told HerStory in an interview.

According to the founder, several make-up artists and yoga instructors have hosted virtual classes, and more recently, a Sufi band from Rajasthan also live-streamed its performance from the middle of a desert. Being ‘vocal for local’, the platform has seen 70 to 80 percent organic growth and plans to launch a mobile application soon.



Taking Indian handcrafts to a global stage - Disha Singh, Zouk

Disha Singh, the founder of Zouk

Disha Singh is the founder of Mumbai-based B2C startup Zouk, a vegan brand for bags, wallets, and accessories.

The startup stands out by fusing Indian craftsmanship with modern functionality with its range of products. It all began when Disha was on a trip to Kutch surrounded by bountiful local handicrafts, she realised that though her friends loved the designs and the craftsmanship, they did not buy them as the products lacked functionality.

Zouk employs artisans from Dharavi and uses Indian handicrafts like Ikat, jute, khadi and motifs in its products. She also procures raw materials from across the country and 24 artisans handcraft each piece. “I felt there was a need for a brand to stand for its Indian originality,” Disha said in an earlier conversation with HerStory.



Prompting Indian languages - Aneesha Jyoti and Vatsala Sharma, Language Curry

Vatsala Sharma and Aneesha Jyoti, Co-founders of Language Curry

While most Indian language learning companies were focussing on foreign languages, Aneesha Jyoti and Vatsala Sharma entered the market with a focus on rich Indian languages. The duo co-founded Language Curry in 2017 along with Puneet Singh.

The learning platform offers languages like Hindi, Sanskrit, Punjabi, Gujrati, and Kannada. A few more languages like Tamil, Marathi, Telugu, and Malayalam, are to be launched soon.

The app caters to NRIs, Indians, expats and tourists who wish to increase their knowledge of regional Indian languages. It has been downloaded 35,000 times by tourists, international students, NRIs, and people from 120 countries.



Promoting Indian weaves - Ipsita Dash, 6yardsandmore

Ipsita Dash, co-founder of 6yardsandmore



“I wanted to meld my creativity with the beautiful traditional weaves of our country,” Ipsita Dash said in an interview with HerStory. With this desire, Ipsita started 6yardsandmore, a Facebook business, which brings authentic and unexplored weaves of India to consumers worldwide.

Along with her sister Vinita Dash, who handles operations from Kuwait, Ipsita started selling sarees and accessories in 2016. With the desire to bring to the fore all beautiful weaves from across the country, Ipsita handpicks and curates the startup’s flagship product, the six yards or the sarees, from different weavers in remote villages across the country.

Sarees are sourced from all over the country, including Assam, Bengal, Bihar, Manipur, and Odisha in the East; Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra, and Karnataka in the South; Lucknow, Banaras, Madhya Pradesh, and Maheshwar in the North; and Maharashtra and Rajasthan in the West.

Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan

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