The global pandemic did not stop these women from becoming entrepreneurs

These four women entrepreneurs officially launched businesses amidst the global pandemic. From sanitisers to healing music, there was no shortage of enterprising ideas.

The nationwide lockdown and the extended work from home routine has seen people exploring and indulging in various activities. From baking to gardening, DIY crafts to learning new languages and skills, and even starting new businesses. 

You heard it right! With the new normal, there are newer market challenges to address and several women have used their free time designing new business approaches and solutions.

Empowered by digital platforms, this includes launching an online marketplace for the products that have become rare in the market, to launching home-made personal care products and wellness services in the height of its need. 

Here are four women entrepreneurs who made the best of their time amidst a global pandemic by giving shape to their passions or addressing the immediate needs in the new world order. 

Namrata Parikh, Sanitab

When the COVID-19 outbreak sent the entire country into a sudden lockdown, most pharmaceutical stores ran out of sanitisers. Namrata Parikh and her husband Aniket saw sanitising and disinfecting were to become a daily essential in the new normal. 

In April 2020, the duo launched multipurpose disinfectant tablet Sanitab and the business broke even in two days. Namrata, a graduate in Psychology and Marketing, from the University of Pennsylvania led the marketing efforts that played a key role in driving sales on Facebook and Instagram. As retail distribution was not possible, it was operated online and was sold on Amazon and their own website. 

The product can be used to disinfect fruits and vegetables, surfaces in homes and offices, and to disinfect untreated water without affecting its smell, taste, or colour.

One tube containing 25 tablets is priced at Rs 450. It contains 1.75 grams of Sodium Dichloroisocyanurate (NaDCC) per tablet which works as an active disinfectant when dissolved in water. 

FDA-approved, it is also recommended by WHO, UNICEF, the UK Department of Health, and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India.

Nisha Natarajan, Down to Earth

Nisha Natarajan started making natural cleaning products to protect her three pet dogs who were allergic to the toxic chemicals in commercial products. The nationwide lockdown presented Nisha with the opportunity to explore and experiment with more handmade products like soap and shampoo bar for home use. Soon, they became popular among her friends and family, which nudged her to take the entrepreneurial plunge. 

In April 2020 Nisha quit her corporate job, and launched Down to Earth in September. A handmade eco-friendly brand based in Bengaluru, its home and personal care products are priced between Rs 60 and Rs 900. 

The entrepreneur says opting for complete eco-friendly packaging and delivery solutions puts the brand on a slightly heavier price bar. Nearly all of the startup’s activity, from registering the business to contacting and sourcing raw materials, took place online.

(From L to R) Namrata Parikh, Co-founder of Sanitab; Nisha Natarajan, Founder of Down to Earth; Pallavi Bhardwaj, Founder of Save Well Being; Runki Goswami, Founder of SuRHeal

Runki Goswami, SuRHeal

Classical musician Runki Goswami launched a mobile application based startup SuRHeal last month to promote raga therapy for holistic wellness. 

Known for music composition in several Telegu films, Runki researched about various frequencies of ragas and their impact on health for four years before deciding to start up. It was her daughter who suggested that she launch digitally as most people spend their time online on mobile phones. 

With a team of five classical singers, SuRHeal app claims to address illnesses related to respiratory issues, lungs, stomach and digestion, pancreas and liver, head, heart, back pains and mental health including stress and anxiety, insomnia, depression and Alzheimer’s.

There are video songs for each illness where raga, its frequency, musical instrument, and the most suitable time is specified. 

Offered for free at present, Runki aims to introduce the paid subscription model after a year.

Pallavi Bhardwaj, Save Well Being

Pallavi Bhardwaj became increasingly conscious of her health and diet after her newborn son was diagnosed with congenital heart defect in 2005. So much that she pursued formal education in macrobiotic nutrition at the Kushi Institute in the US and a course in Bach flower Therapy at The Bach Centre in the UK. 

A practising holistic health and lifestyle coach, she started a wellness firm called Ibadat in 2017, helping clients manage conditions like diabetes, cancer, anxiety, hypertension, and obesity. 

For Pallavi, who has been on an organic diet for over a decade, and her clients, the COVID-19-induced lockdown posed a challenge due to lack of availability of healthy foods. 

In May 2020, the entrepreneur jumped into action and invested Rs 15 lakh to launch her second venture, Save Well Being, an online marketplace for organic and pesticide-free food. This includes products like sattu atta (a mixture of ground pulses and cereals), sambar powder, roasted Bengal gram, rice flour, red rice, ragi flour, and quinoa, along with seasonal vegetables, fruits, honey, and other healthy snacks.

Edited by Anju Narayanan