Next Generation Women Entrepreneurs in India
1) Suchi Mukherjee
Suchi is the founder and CEO of the online social discovery platform for women, LimeRoad. She is extremely passionate about building consumer technology products. With LimeRoad, she has an aim of revolutionizing the way lifestyle products are discovered and bought by people online in India. Before founding LimeRoad.com, Suchi have worked with companies like Skype, Gumtree, eBay and Virgin Media.
Suchi post graduated from London School of Economics and graduated from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi. In his life Suchi received many awards and recognition like K.C. Nag Economics Prize for best student in Economics, George K. George Memorial Scholarship for overall contribution, all at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University, Cambridge Commonwealth Trust, Scholarship & Fellowship, and Chadburn Scholarship for merit, both at Cambridge University and British Chevening Scholarship, at the London School of Economics.
Suchi came from a family with no business background and after spending 18 years of studying, living and working in the UK, 39 year old Mukherjee decided to come to India start an online business especially for women and this is when LimeRoad came into existence. Suchi was selected as 1 of 15 women worldwide ‘Rising Talents, high potential leaders under 40. Suchi is an ex-ebay, Skype and Gumtree.
2) Anu Sridharan
Anu is the founder of NextDrop, a company which allows Indian residents in the urban areas to track the availability of piped water through SMS. The company already serves around 18,000 people in Karnataka. Anu has Bachelors in Civil Engineering and a Masters in Civil Systems Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley to her credit. She is determined to change the way in which technology allows us to interact with our urban systems.
NextDrop began by tackling the problem of erratic water supply – in most of urban India, water is available only a few hours at a time or a few times a week, but residents have no way of knowing when. Working with operators in the field, NextDrop sends text messages 60 minutes before water arrives in your tap, while also offering utility boards the tools to better manage and track leakages in water supply.
Anu holds her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the Civil and Environmental Engineering program at the University of California, Berkeley, where her Master’s research focused on the optimization of piped networked systems in developing economies. Anu also served as the Education and Health director for a water/sanitation project in the slums of Mumbai, India called “Haath Mein Sehat”, where she piloted a successful volunteer recruitment and community-training model.
Anu Sridharan was 23 years old when she became CEO of social startup NextDrop in Hubli- a town some 500 kilometers from Bangalore in Karnataka. Anu has also been selected to the Forbes “30 Social Entrepreneurs Under 30″ list.
3) Aditi Gupta
Aditi is the founder of menstrupedia.com She co-founded the site with Tuhin Paul, who is also her husband, in November 2012. Menstrupedia is a friendly guide to healthy periods. It aims at educating girls and women about periods and breaking the various myths attached to this taboo subject. It is unique as it is India’s first such site which talks so openly about women’s monthly cycles.
Aditi is a post-graduate in New Media Design from National Institute of Design, and graduated in Electronics and Instrumentation Engineering. Aditi first got the idea for Menstrupedia while doing her thesis on the very subject for her post graduation at NID (National Institute of Design).
Aditi was born and brought up in Garhwa, a small town in Jharkhand, where she had to deal with the shame associated with the act of buying sanitary napkins, and had to resort to using rags. Later in her college she realized that there is very little information available in India for so called monthly curse of women, she then along with Tuhin Paul developed a comic book in Hindi to educate girls & women about menstruation and she even won a Ford Foundation scholarship for same.
In past Aditi has worked in Ford foundation as research associate and user experience designer in other two companies. She was also recently listed in Forbes India ’30 under 30′ list for her efforts in making the masses aware about the myths attached to menstruation.
4) Priya Naik
Priya is a promising social entrepreneur in India and founder of Samhita Social Ventures, which is an organization that helps corporations, donor agencies, NGOs, individuals and philanthropists collaborate with each other for social impact on a huge scale. Samhita was founded in 2009 and means “collective good” in Sanskrit language. She has 3 master degrees to her credit. She has one in Economics from Yale University, one in Public Policy from University of Michigan and one in commerce from University of Mumbai.
Prior to Samhita, Priya co-founded The Spark Group, an education company that delivered affordable education to low income communities. Priya’s interest in social entrepreneurship began when she worked as a Researcher at the Poverty Action Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, USA. At MIT, Priya was part of two student-led start-ups – Aerovax and Kalpataru. Aerovax is a company that created safe, inhalable aerosol vaccines that could be delivered without the use of needles while Kalpataru dealt in delivering innovative, low-cost technology to increase the efficiency of microfinance institutions. Both these social startups won several awards at MIT.
When Priya was 23 she spent time for her summer working in four countries in West Africa and poverty she saw there shocked her thereafter she thought to dedicate her skills and knowledge to provide opportunities to everyone that they deserve irrespective of gender, income, nationality or caste and especially underprivileged people.
5) Ajaita Shah
Ajaita is the founder and CEO of Frontier Markets started in 2009 by focusing on energy products and connecting with a microfinance partner in Karnataka. She has a goal of making high quality, affordable products and goods available to rural India. She has an experience of over 5 years in Microfinance with esteemed organizations like Ujjivan Financial Services and SKS Microfinance behind her back.
Ajaita was also awarded with the title of being the most influential leader under 30 in microfinance by Business Week, and Business Week’s 30 under 30 award, and most recently, Forbes Magazine’s Top 30 Under 30’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year.
Her company Frontier Markets has an aim to be the scale solution for manufacturers creating goods for the rural markets of India. Ajaita trains locals to educate and sell to rural households. The company has sold 10,000 solar solutions to date. Ajaita has worked on numerous development projects in 7 states in India. She has consulted with the World Bank about microfinance in South Asia and Latin America. She served on the Committee of the Social Performance Task Force as well.
6) Sheetal Mehta Walsh
Sheetal is the founder of Shanti Life, which is a very unique microfinance platform aiming at serving the poor in Gujarat slums and villages so that they can create sustainable businesses. Along with her husband Paul Walsh, Sheetal is also co-founder of MetaCert -a for-profit company that provides products and services for family safety online. Sheetal is currently focused on developing MetaCert on a global level and ensuring it is available across all devices in all schools.
Sheetal is also a yoga teacher and loves playing dhol, which is a special Indian drum. All the beneficiaries at Shanti Life get mentoring, financial literacy training, easy access to eco-sanitation facilities and a very low interest rate of 12%. Sheetal is also thinking of creating an online marketplace for the recipients of microfinance where they can easily sell their goods globally.
Sheetal with her social venture Shanti Life has done tremendous job for rural population in India, especially in Gujarat. Sheetal funded a Ahmedabad Sewing School in Vatva, Gujarat, which is poorest of the poor community who lost everything in fires during the 2002 riots. Another example is rickshaw project in the slums in Ahmedabad and Baroda. Sheetal help in granting microfinance loans to the rickshaw drivers so that they can afford a down-payment and eventually own their own rickshaw. £250 will give a rickshaw driver freedom to work for himself, access all necessary and legal paperwork and provide for his family.
7) Leila Janah
Leila is the founder and CEO of Samasource, a company which makes use of a very unique microwork model to bring dignified employment to the world’s poor in the digital economy by breaking down small computer based tasks from larger projects. Samasource provides free, specialized technology training via 16 centers in nine countries, including India, Pakistan, Kenya, Haiti and Uganda.
Leila has graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Development Studies and worked as a management consultant with Katzenbach Partners but left the job in 2007 to become a visiting scholar at Stanford University and eventually in 2008 she founded Samasource (then called Market for Change).
She has also researched with the World Bank and Ashoka and directed many non-profits efforts in U.K AND U.S. Samasource provides employment within country partners in India, Uganda, Pakistan, Haiti, Kenya and South Africa. According to her, the greatest challenge of the next 50 years for her would be in creating dignified employment for everyone and not through handouts and charity but through market forces.
Leila was born in New York and grew up in Los Angeles, California. She was named one of the Most Influential Women in Technology by Fast Company in 2009. In 2010, Janah received the Prix NetExplorateur from the French Senate and a World Technology Award for Social Entrepreneurship for her work with Samasource. She is a recipient of the Rainer Arnhold and TEDIndia Fellowships as well.
8) Gloria Benny
Gloria is the co-founder of Make A Difference, which is considered one of India’s largest volunteer networks. India is a country with most difficult and complex socioeconomic inequalities in the whole world. Gloria is determined to take this problem head on. She has an aim of inspiring about 360 million people in giving at least 1 hour per week in helping underprivileged children across India. In 2013, the organization had around 1,300 volunteers teaching and mentoring about 5,400 orphaned and underprivileged kids in across 20 cities of India.
Gloria was born in Kochi, Kerala a southern most state in India and lived for a few years in the Gulf as well, where she completed her High School education. After graduation she even worked with Google for 5 years. She then in 2006 started her social venture MAD with help of 20 second year college students in Kochi to teach communicative English to 100 poor students. Currently, around 2100 Make A Difference (MAD) volunteers teach close to 5200 children in more than 20 cities of India.
Her social venture MAD has won millions of hearts and honors like the Ashoka Global Youth Social Entrepreneur Award, India Shines award, Karmaveer Puraskar and a Global award from Nobel Peace laureate, Martti Ahtisaari.
9) Saloni Malhotra
Saloni is the founder of DesiCrew, which is an organization with over 300 employees who are focused and determined to create knowledge based livelihood or employment opportunities in rural areas and small towns.
Saloni did her engineering from University of Pune in state of Maharashtra. She started her career in an interactive media start up, Web Chutney based in Delhi. She somehow came into contact of Professor Jhunjhunwala of TeNet group, IIT Madras and came up with this idea of founding DesiCrew.
She stepped down as the CEO of DesiCrew in March 2012 and handed over her duties to a professional management team but she continues to be a part of the board. Saloni also co-founded Safecity in 2012 which is a citizen’s initiative to make Indian Cities safer again. Desicrew now has now four rural offices — Udupi, Apakoodal and Kollumangudi and employs 300-odd people from these villages.
She has been nominated for Business Week Asia’s Best Youngest Entrepreneurs, MTV Youth Icon 2008, E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year 2008 and also facilitated in the presence of the President of India by the CII. She is the recipient of FICCI’s Best Women Social Entrepreneur Award (2009) and TIE Stree Shakthi Award (2011).
10) Pooja Warier
She is the co-founder of UnLtd India and Bombay Connect. UnLtd. India is a premier incubator for social entrepreneurs in the country while Bombay Connect is India’s only co-working space dedicated to social change. She even has Journeys for Change, which is a travel company aimed at inspiring leaders into social enterprise through journeys. She can be considered as a centre of inspiration, motivation and support for upcoming social entrepreneurs in India.
Pooja is passionate about discovering the latent entrepreneurial will in people and directing it to solve social problems. Before co-founding UnLtd India, Pooja worked with a range of organisations and initiatives like the World Social Forum & M.V. Foundation. She has a MA in social work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai.