Graphic novel on 20 women entrepreneurs launched in New Delhi

‘WE Mean Business – 20 Women Entrepreneurs, 20 Stories’ is a graphic novel comprising 20 real-life stories of women entrepreneurs from German developmental organisation GIZ India’s Project - Her&Now. The novel was launched in New Delhi this Saturday.

Graphic novel on 20 women entrepreneurs launched in New Delhi

Tuesday October 18, 2022,

4 min Read

Solid, inspirational stories of women entrepreneurs from rural India - and if these stories are beautifully depicted in visual graphics and dialogues - what’s not to love?

‘WE Mean Business – 20 Women Entrepreneurs, 20 Stories’, a graphic novel comprising 20 real-life stories of women entrepreneurs from German developmental organisation GIZ India’s Project - Her&Now, was launched at New Delhi’s Triveni Kala Sangam on Saturday, October 15, 2022. The novel’s Hindi version titled, ‘Mera Business, Meri Kahaani’, was also launched. 

Published by GIZ, co-published by Yoda Press and printed by Fortune Print Services, the stories have been authored and illustrated by Vishwajyoti Ghosh, Shrutika Mathur, and Nishtha Vadehra. 

Julia Karst, Head of Project Her&Now, GIZ India, said at the event, “This book is a celebration of women entrepreneurs of India. This graphic anthology showcases the unique and diverse realities of women entrepreneurs across business sectors, regions, ages, and social groups. We hope that by highlighting the success stories of relatable role models, this book inspires conversations about the role of women in the economy and encourages many more young women in the country to take up entrepreneurship!”

Also taking to the stage were the artists behind the book - Vishwajyoti Ghosh, the illustrator; Shrutika Mathur, the author; and Nishtha Vadehra, the editor.

"This is a book of conversations, with women entrepreneurs who let us into their worlds and journeys. In each of these stories we got distinct visual opportunities to articulate their familiar challenges in unfamiliar terrains, to realise the inspiring possibilities of making things happen, on their own terms,” Shrutika said. 

Vishwajyoti, who has to his credit the popular political graphic novel ‘Delhi Calm’, remarked that working on this novel was a learning for him, and his idea of what a “successful” business means was thoroughly challenged through this experience. “The kind of impact that the women entrepreneurs from the hinterland have had in creating jobs, training, and livelihood for other women in their region show that success of a business isn’t just in the financial numbers as we are often made to believe,” he opined.

We Mean Business

Stories of grit and courage from the hinterland

The women entrepreneurs featured in the novel are mainly from Tier II and Tier III cities and rural areas of Northeast India, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Telangana. They all belong to various business sectors and diverse backgrounds, and none of their struggles is the same. 

Although all 20 women entrepreneurs who were featured in the novel were unable to attend the event, five women did make their presence felt. Among these were Ishu Shiva, Founder, Sanitree, Rajasthan; Saka Shailaja, Founder, Roja’s Industries, Telangana;  Hemlata Mishra, Founder, MADNext Advertising, Rajasthan; Dilu Sharma, Founder, Oh My God (OMG) Zindagi, Sikkim and Neerja Palisetty, Founder, Sutrakaar Creations, Rajasthan.

“For 30 years I have not been recognised but I feel truly motivated and happy standing here and being a part of this launch. This is really a good platform for me and it will help me encourage so many women. I have supported and trained 30,000 students in my life till now but I pledge here that next year I will support and motivate 20,000 more students and bring a change in their lives,” said Saka, a Dalit woman entrepreneur who began a beauty school and eventually started training other women in running salons. In 2019, Saka began manufacturing beauty products under her own brand, Synnove. 

Ishu Shiva, the founding member of Sanitree, a social enterprise, said, “I still can’t believe I am standing here and holding a book that has my story featured in it. It’s an overwhelming feeling for me. My parents will be super proud of my achievements and that’s the biggest success for me. Thank you, project Her&Now for supporting us and showcasing our stories to the world through this book”. Sanitree is tackling period poverty, and working to end the stigma around menstruation in rural Rajasthan. 

Dilu Sharma, who launched OMG Zindagi, a digital platform that showcases young and upcoming talent from Northeastern India, hoped that her story inspires other women in India to take up entrepreneurship as a viable career option. Based in Gangtok, Dilu’s media platform has managed to establish a sustainable revenue model and has over 17,000 subscribers on YouTube and 75,000 followers on Facebook. 

The book is available in select bookstores across the country, and will soon be available on Amazon.

Edited by Teja Lele