Experts Column

2021 has been a difficult period for everyone. It has seen economies struggle and businesses suffer due to the pandemic-induced lockdown restrictions. In the midst of these difficult times, we witnessed entrepreneurs rising above challenges and innovating in real-time to cater to their audiences in a never-before-seen ecosystem.

With the new normal bringing new market challenges, women entrepreneurs from retail-tech, agri-tech, alco-Bev, eCommerce, and communications have stepped up to design new businesses and products with the goal of impacting the ecosystem and making consumers' lives easier. 

As the Indian startup ecosystem continues to expand, an increasing number of women are pursuing the entrepreneurial dream and succeeding in their businesses. As a result, other Indian women who are still bound to the homemaker role are being empowered to think for themselves. The following is a list of notable female entrepreneurs who have made their mark on India's startup ecosystem. 

Falguni Nayar: Nykaa's Founder

Falguni is the founder of Nykaa.com and is well-known in India for her business ventures. After 25 years of experience and a wildly successful career in financial services, she took the leap to launch Nykaa.com. FalguniNayar, an IIM Ahmedabad graduate, has built a retail empire in beauty and skin care. Her greatest accomplishment in her early years was establishing Nykaa as a brand. It is now a one-stop shop for all things beauty. It's worth $1.2 billion, and  has recently joined the unicorn club after the new funding of Rs 100 crore ($13 million) from previous investor Steadview Capital.

Aditi Gupta is a Menstrupedia co-founder

Aditi Gupta, co-founder of the comic Menstrupedia and author, is an Indian social entrepreneur who aims to raise awareness about menstrual hygiene. She took it upon herself to dispel the myths and misinformation about menstruation. She and her husband co-founded the comic in 2012. For her efforts to break taboos, she was named to Forbes India's 30 Under 30 list in 2014. Menstrupedia is now used in over 6,000 schools worldwide, benefiting over 110,000 female students in 14 languages.

Divya Gokulnath: Byju's co-founder

Divya co-founded Byju's, an educational platform that helps students learn more effectively. Divya was named one of Linkedin's top voices in 2019. She believes that education is one of the most powerful tools for shaping and moulding the minds of our youth. Her role at Byju's is to ignite the passion and energy of her teams in order to deliver on BYJU'S mission of 'Making children fall in love with learning.'

Khushboo Jain is the co-founder and chief operating officer of ImpactGuru.

Khushboo Jain co-founded Impact Guru with the intention of assisting India's crowdfunding startup scene. She is the COO of the company and is in charge of the marketing, communication, and design departments. Impact Guru has now raised more than 150 crores (US$21 million) for non-governmental organisations and social enterprises all over the world. Khushboo has recently been named to a number of lists and events. She was named to Fortune India's 40 Under 40 list and was one of the top 15 female entrepreneurs honoured at the NITI Aayog and United Nations' 2019 Women Transforming India Awards.

Ms. Arjita Sethi, Indiarath's Co-Founder & Equally

Arjita is the Co-Founder of Indiarath, India's largest borderless incubator programme, and an advisor to Startup India. Indiarath is an organisation that creates tools and resources for Indian entrepreneurs to create impactful startups, thereby empowering Grassroot entrepreneurs. Arjita has worked with over 500 startups and venture capitalists and continues to work with Unicorns, leading VCs, emerging startups, global initiatives, and policy think tanks. As an immigrant entrepreneur herself, Arjita understands the needs of aspiring immigrant entrepreneurs and is assisting them with her Silicon Valley startup, Future Founders School. She is also the founder and CEO of Equally, a universal platform that ignite children's curiosity.

Ms. Upasna Dash, Founder and CEO of Jajabor Brand Consultancy

Upasna is the Co-Founder of Indiarath, India's largest borderless incubator programme, and the Founder and CEO of Jajabor Brand Consultancy. Upasna has worked with over 500 businesses and venture capitalists, and continues to work with unicorns, top VCs, rising startups, global projects, and policy think tanks. Her expertise lies in leveraging the power of branding and communication to propel a company forward.

Ms. Sonakshi Nathani, Bikayi's Co-Founder and CEO

Ms. Sonakshi co-founded the e-commerce business 'Bikayi,' which has sparked outrage in the entrepreneurial community. Sonakshi, a strategic thinker, was inspired by a real-life experience to create Bikayi, which became profitable in less than a year! Sonakshi exposed businesses to e-commerce using WhatsApp, a platform they are familiar with, using in-depth Bharat data. Bikayi is allowing local merchants to make sustainable revenue and become microentrepreneurs by reducing the barriers of setting up an online business. The entrepreneur hopes to use her platform to address the issue that the COVID lockout has caused for these small enterprises and retailers.

These female role models have a lot to offer Indians. Their enterprises and endeavours are more than just a means of profit. The ladies highlighted in this article are some of India's most successful female entrepreneurs, showcasing the power of innovation and ingenuity. Gender does not stand in the way of success. We hope that this entrepreneurial spirit spreads to more women in the coming years.