Gender diversity in the workplace has long been encouraged globally. According to the Women in Business 2021 report by global accounting firm Grant Thornton, India ranks third in the world for women in senior management roles. The ratio of women in senior management in India was 39%, compared to 31% globally, demonstrating that Indian businesses' attitudes about working women are evolving. Grant Thornton Bharat CEO Vishesh C. Chandiok stated, “we are third with 39% women in senior management positions. With more women taking on leadership roles and diversity on board, businesses will open new opportunities for growth.”
In the last several decades, the status of women in Indian society has changed tremendously. Women today play a significant role in the growth of the Indian economy, having a significant impact and achieving success in almost every industry. According to Hurun, the Indian start-up ecosystem is growing, with around three businesses entering the Unicorn Club each month by 2021. With one out of every five enterprises effectively run by Indian women, the country is seeing a surge in female entrepreneurs. Women entrepreneurs in India are changing the start-up landscape through their sheer hard work and talent. Women account for roughly 14% of overall entrepreneurship in India, according to the sixth economic census released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI), and this proportion is projected to climb as more women pursue business success.
Here is a list of a few geeky yet dynamic Indian women entrepreneurs (2021) who have done something exceptional to aid the Indian economy and inspire other women.
Falguni Nayar – The Founder of Nykaa
Falguni Nayar, India's first self-made female billionaire entrepreneur founded Nykaa, India's largest fashion and lifestyle portal. After 20 years as a start-up investor and merchant, she abruptly announced her departure from Kotak Mahindra. Nykaa was founded in 2012, and it made history by capitalising on the wide range of beauty and skincare products available online. Falguni Nayar is an IIM Ahmedabad graduate, one of India's top business schools. She awarded the 'Businesswoman of the Year' award at the Economic Times Awards for Corporate Excellence 2019 and the 'Woman Ahead' award at the Economic Times Start-up Awards in 2017 for her contribution to the Indian beauty industry. She has established her place in Indian start-up history as a living embodiment of the term "Age is only a number," with the Nykaa IPO making a stir in the stock market.
Vandana Luthra – The Founder of VLCC
Vandana Luthra is the founder of VLCC Health Care Ltd, a beauty and wellness conglomerate with operations in Asia, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and Africa. She is also the chairperson of the Beauty & Wellness Sector Skill Council (B&WSSC), a training programme run by the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana. In 1989, she established VLCC, a beauty and slimming service centre. She eventually added hair augmentation, full-body laser, grooming, and dermatology to her list of services. In April 2013, she was honoured the Padma Shree by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee. Vandana Luthra is the founder of Khushii, a non-profit organisation that provides free education to underprivileged and physically challenged students.
Akanksha Hazari – The Founder of LoveLocal
Akanksha Hazari is a veteran entrepreneur who has worked in India, the Middle East, and the United States for over a decade. She founded LoveLocal in January 2020. LoveLocal is a hyperlocal e-commerce platform that is changing the way Indians shop by assisting small companies and digitising the unorganised retail market, which is worth $1.1 trillion. The company’s aim is to power the world's largest retail network and provide the future of local shopping. She has garnered multiple awards for her entrepreneurial successes, including the Hult Prize in 2011, for which former US President Bill Clinton rewarded her $1 million, and the Vital Voices Global Economic Empowerment Award in 2016. Akanksha is a polyglot who speaks six languages and is the only Indian tech entrepreneur listed in the book "100 Women Using Their Power to Empower."
Smiti Bhatt Deorah – The Co-Founder of Advantage Club
Advantage Club was founded by Sourabh and Smiti Deorah in 2014, platform that uses artificial intelligence to improve employee engagement. Smiti Deorah, the company's Chief Operating Officer, graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with a master's degree in computer science. The co-founder has tremendous B2B account management and relationship-building experience. Smiti has worked for one of the world's leading computer corporations, Microsoft, for more than two years and has gained expertise in her profession. She is a superwoman entrepreneur because she handles a range of vertices at Advantage Club, such as sales, marketing, and technology.
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw – The Founder of Biocon Limited
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, India's wealthiest self-made woman entrepreneur, established Biocon Limited, a biopharmaceutical firm, in 1978. This company has entered the biosimilars market in the United States and is gaining financial attention. According to Forbes, it is the first company to be approved by the FDA. She has invested a significant sum into developing a biotech company with a strong R&D platform. She was named India's 54th richest person and the world's 65th most influential woman in 2019. Her academic credentials include a bachelor's degree from Bangalore University and a master's degree from Melbourne University.
Upasana Taku – The Co-founder of Mobikwik
MobiKwik, India's largest independent mobile payments network, was started in April 2009 by Upasana Taku and Bipin Preet Singh. It connects over 30 million users to 75,000 companies, allowing users to shop in stores, pay bills, recharge, send money, and accept payments all with a single tap. Upasana is a Stanford University graduate with over ten years of experience in the financial technology field. Her foray into business has influenced a significant number of people. The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) honoured her with the "Best Woman Entrepreneur Award 2017." The co-founder is India's first female CEO of a payments start-up, and she is optimistic about the country's fintech future.
Women Entrepreneurs with Promising Future
According to the government's Start-up division, women make up only 13.76 % of all entrepreneurs in India. While this is a disheartening figure, there are more options for women to enter the start-up scene with refined market and technological opportunities. Priyanka Chopra's production company Purple Pebbles Pictures and Katrina Kaif's recent launch of Kay Beauty by Katrina Kaif, a brand for beauty goods sold online, are two examples of popular Bollywood female stars who have had financial success.
There is a glimmer of hope that within the next decade, the statistics will improve and more women will be encouraged to pursue careers in business and technology.