Women’s Day: Meet 10 women who run successful SMBs and earn crores in revenue
India’s 8 million+ women entrepreneurs all come with stories of grit, perseverance, and the determination to run a successful business. This Women’s Day, we look at 10 of the best stories.
Small and medium businesses (SMBs) in India are solving a number of problems through innovative ideas and creative solutions. However, the number of male entrepreneurs is significantly higher than female entrepreneurs.
Only 13.76 percent of the total entrepreneurs in India are women, according to Startup India data. There are just around eight million women entrepreneurs, and the number of male entrepreneurs has crossed 50 million.
These eight million women entrepreneurs all come with their own inspiring stories of grit, perseverance, and the determination to run a successful business - all while handling the day-to-day affairs of their families and households.
This International Women’s Day, SMBStory has curated a list of 10 inspirational women entrepreneurs running successful small and medium businesses:
In 2016, Jasmine Lulla was undergoing chemotherapy in Indore. The woman entrepreneur's cancer diagnosis had come as a shock: just when her baked confectionery brand Cakes N' Craft was planning to expand beyond its two stores.
Describing it as the toughest stage of her entrepreneurial journey, Jasmine maintains that baking was almost like a meditative place where all her troubles went away. She continued to bake and keep the brand's product line running.
With the help of her husband Manish, Cakes N' Craft expanded to more stores. As her business' health improved, so did hers. In a year, she beat cancer.
What started as a baking project with a home kitchen model is now a healthy business which is seeing daily sales of 500 to 600 cakes and revenue of Rs 8 crore. Today, Cakes N' Craft makes a wide range of designer-crafted culinary products, premium macaroons, gift hampers, and chocolate-filled savouries.
Chinu Kala was 15 years old when she fled her home in Mumbai due to family issues. The young girl was then staring at a bleak and uncertain future.
Chinu explored a variety of jobs for over eight years to ensure she could manage on her own. She began her entrepreneurial journey with Fonte Corporate Solutions, which specialised in corporate merchandising.
She was exposed to practical lessons of running a business by meeting consumer demands with products and services that best matched their needs. She soon realised that there were no unique designs in the Indian jewellery market.
Hence, she decided to close Fonte Corporate Solutions and founded Rubans Accessories in 2014 combining her love for fashion and experience of corporate merchandising.
Rubans Accessories was started with bootstrapped capital of Rs 3 lakh in a 70 sqft Kiosk in Phoenix Mall, Bengaluru. In 2019, within a span of five years, the company recorded a turnover of Rs 7.5 crore.
When Pune-based Manisha Bhati was working in Deutsche Bank, she knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur. Her background in teaching had helped her understand that people of all ages were lacking soft skills.
She wanted to start a counselling and development company to help people with career counselling, personal, and professional development.
“My financial background was such that I did not have a large amount that I could invest in the business. I was unable to get a loan,” she says.
She decided she would sell off her jewellery to fund the business. Though it was a tough decision, it was one which bore fruit. She was able to raise Rs 4 lakh by selling her gold.
She started Dreamhunt India in 2017 to do one-on-one counselling and development sessions, and has made Rs 20 lakh in under two years.
When Mariam Mohuideen moved to Mangalore from Dubai, she didn't find many business opportunities in the coastal city. But she observed millennials in Mangalore craved cakes, burgers, pizzas and pastas. This made her feel it was the right time to tap into her baking skills to start her own business.
In December 2014, she started Baker’s Treat, a bakery that sold home-baked goods. “It was a small, 200 square feet space from where we made and sold baked goods,” Mariam says.
The business thrived and Mariam invested almost Rs 20 lakh to turn Baker’s Treat into a full-fledged outlet for cakes, cupcakes, burgers, pastas, and shakes.
Today, Mariam’s business is a 19-member, 2,200 square feet, 90-seater restaurant on Mother Teresa Road, Mangalore. It sees a daily footfall of around 150 customers, who mostly line up for Mariam’s Oreo Nutella cheesecakes, brownies, and cupcakes.
Driven by a desire to help Indian farmers in some form, 23-year-old entrepreneur Maithili Appalwar has made a difference to the lives of thousands of farmers in India.
Under her firm Avana, Avana launched Jalasanchay, a water conservation solution, under which an artificial pond is made by digging a large pit in the farmland and covering it with a special polymer that stops percolation of water in other areas.
Maithili claims that after using this solution to conserve water, the farmers’ income has gone up by 98.7 percent. The initiative has contributed in saving 322.31 billion litres of water by developing 8,058 artificial ponds across Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana.
“The idea is to capture any excess water that could go into the sea. The water can, instead, be used for irrigation and other purposes by farmers,” Maithili says.
In just over three years, Avana is clocking a turnover of Rs 70 crore annually.
Mridula Jain was always interested in fashion and had a passion for colours too. She says a chance conversation with her nephew, who supplied yarn (fabric) to shawl makers, sparked an idea for making shawls.
Mridula felt the shawl market could pick up pace if shawls were made more fashionable with new designs. She shared the idea with her husband and he was immediately on board to help her start Shingora.
Mridula began making shawls with phulkari, an embroidery technique specific to Punjab.
She says, “My design patterns were new and immediately caught every buyer’s attention.” She recalls how the first order she received was of Rs 10 lakh.
Today, her brand Shingora is clocking a turnover of Rs 100 crore, has a pan-India reach with a presence in around 100 retail stores across India, and accounts for nearly 20 percent of the country’s shawl exports.
Divya Jain was working in her family-run business, Safexpress, one of India’s leading logistics companies, when she noticed a huge gap in the sector: lack of skilled workforce in logistics.
Divya then started Safeducate in 2013 to address this gap. She started providing training to truck drivers and other workers in the logistics and supply chain management sectors by working on skill development and livelihood creation.
Safeducate provides training on skill development across India for a duration of three to six months. There are two types of courses: entry level and management trainee programmes. Entry level course gets funding through CSR and Central government, while the company charges around Rs 30,000-Rs 50,000 for management trainee modules.
"I want each truck driver, delivery guy, warehouse operator, and logistics accountant to envision what more they can do,” Divya says.
In almost six years, Safeducate has trained around 50,000 people from 153 centres across India. The company clocks Rs 30 crore turnover.
Nishtha Malik was 17 when her mother took her last breath. It was a devastating phase as she had seen her mother struggle with lung cancer and ultimately lose her life. After completing her graduation and masters, Nishtha started exploring the organic haircare market in the country.
She was disheartened when she saw that the industry was lacking, especially when it came to wigs and hair extensions. The pain point hit home as she had seen her mother struggling to find a wig after she lost her hair during the treatment process.
She decided to focus on this untapped market and launched her company, Beaux, in June 2019 with a capital of Rs 8 lakh, which she borrowed from her father.
Beaux makes wigs, toppers, coloured hair strands/streaks, hair scrunchies, and hair wraps. After launching in June 2019, in six months, the company has made average sales of Rs 12-15 lakh, and has started exporting to South Africa, Dubai, and Turkey.
When Bhavna Anand Sharma was meeting stakeholders in the pharma industry, she saw an opportunity to address common ailments holistically. Bhavna wanted to create a brand that prioritised the use of standardised herbs, substantiated with clinical validation, to create a premium range of supplements.
With this objective, she launched a premium range of herbal, organic, and nutraceutical remedies under the brand Cureveda early in 2019. Its popular products are the ones that address common ailments.
“Our diabetes, thyroid, and heart health products are more popular since these are common issues,” Bhavna explains.
For instance, Cureveda's heart elixir contains a herbal blend of Arjuna, Shatavari, Balapanchang, Vidharikand, Manuka, Vidang, Dhaiphool, Dhaniya, and 10 more herbal ingredients. It costs Rs 395 per bottle, containing 15 servings.
Cureveda also has around 5,000 doctors registered and ranked on its portal, where consultation is free.
Anita Gupta was in her 20s when she took a bold step to stop gender-based violence. In 1993, she founded NGO Bhojpur Mahila Kala Kendra with a mission to empower rural women by providing education and employment training to them.
Anita and her brother then went around Bihar, and created awareness among women in villages.
"The men did not allow me to speak to the women from the villages. These men did not want their women to earn a livelihood or create their own identity. They used to warn us, ‘hamari auratein ghoonghat nahi hatayengi’ (our women will not remove their veil)," Anita says.
Through sheer hard work and perseverance to change this mindset, the NGO created around 300 self-help groups (SHGs) for livelihood promotion, health check-up camps, adult education, vocational training, and more.
Today, Anita has trained 20,000 women in handicrafts, jewellery making, and sewing as a means to empower them against gender-based violence.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)
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