Women entrepreneurs in India from all age groups and backgrounds are constantly smashing stereotypes and changing the business scene.
Women inspire us in all walks of life as they play countless roles for everyone. But when it comes to excelling at entrepreneurship, they not only inspire us but also set noteworthy examples.
According to Forbes India, over 20% of MSMEs are owned by women entrepreneurs in India which amounts to 23.3% of the labor force.
And the number is rising at a much faster pace with 50% of India’s start-up ecosystem empowered by women in some or another way.
Top 7 Women Entrepreneurs in India That You Must Know This International Women’s Day:
1. Hemalatha Annamalai – Ampere Electric
2. Falguni Nayar – Nykaa
3. Aditi Gupta – Menstrupedia
4. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw – Biocon India
5. Vani Kola – Kalaari Capital
6. Radhika Agarwal – Shopclues
7. Suchi Mukherjee – Limeroad
Let us look at the list of 7 trailblazing women entrepreneurs in India that leave no stone unturned:
1. Hemalatha Annamalai – Founder & CEO of Ampere Electric Pvt. Ltd
Before the world witnessed the electric vehicle revolution by Elon Musk, an ambitious software engineer from India had already started a small revolution of her own.
Hemalatha Annamalai who ran a successful HR consulting firm, Uni Connect, in Singapore, moved back to India along with her husband and kids to start Ampere Electric in 2008.
She came across the idea in 2007 after attending a conference in Japan, along with her husband Bala Pachyappa when one of the speakers highlighted that electric mobility is the future of transport.
After extensive R&D, planning and brainstorming, she was successful in developing the first electric scooter from scratch. Yet, instead of targeting major metropolitan cities across the country, Hemalatha decided to offer her innovation to customers in rural and semi-urban regions.
Her vision received support from none other than Ratan Tata himself. Along with this Infosys co-founder, Kris Gopalakrishnan became another one of the major early investors in the company.
Today, the company has sold over 20,000 vehicles and has the capacity to manufacture 30,000 vehicles annually.
2. Falguni Nayar – Founder and CEO of Nykaa
The traditional stereotype expects a woman to quit her job after she has children. Or consider a job after the children have grown up.
Falguni Nayar never had to worry about such expectations.
She launched Nykaa at the age of 49 after an illustrious corporate career spanning over two decades.
Growing up in a business environment encouraged by her determined father, Falguni Nayar learned the ins and outs of business and networking at an early age.
After cementing her professional career with Kotak Mahindra Group, she kickstarted her second innings in 2012 by creating an e-commerce platform selling women’s beauty products.
With a workforce mostly employing women, Nykaa steadily built its presence not only as a leading e-commerce platform but also with 80+ physical stores across 38 cities. With hosting 2000+ brands and establishing in-house labels, it soon hit another milestone.
Nykaa’s IPO was oversubscribed nearly 82.5 times expanding its market cap to 1.05 lakh crore INR and hence making Nayar a self-made billionaire.
She claims this would have had been impossible without the relentless support of her children, husband, and family.
3. Aditi Gupta – Founder & Creator of Menstrupedia
Menstruation is still frowned upon in the 21st century. The myths and stigma attached to it make it one of the social taboos that aggravate poor sanitation issues for women and young girls alike.
Aditi Gupta decided to not only smash this taboo but also educate young girls on the science behind it. This ambition led to the creation of the acclaimed comic book guide, Menstrupedia.
Since she was young, Gupta had to face a sense of shame whenever her periods were mentioned. She realized this is the reality that over 120 adolescent girls face every day around the country. Hence, in 2012, she started Menstrupedia along with her now-husband and business partner, Tuhin Paul.
The comic book involves, “a guide to periods, targeted at girls aged nine and above. All the characters and storylines are adapted from real-life experiences that Gupta collected during the research process to create the book.” It is translated into 16 languages for circulation all across the globe.
The comic book was an instant success that bagged countless awards, grants, and collaboration with Whisper India. For her remarkable work, Aditi was listed in Forbes 30 under 30 list.
Recently, Aditi and Tuhin received ₹50 lakh at 20% equity from Namita Thapar (CEO of Emcure Pharmaceuticals) for their start-up as part of their funding via the reality show, Shark Tank India.
4. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw – Founder of Biocon India
Even today, women entrepreneurs face tougher challenges while setting up their ventures in comparison with their male counterparts.
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw experienced similar prejudices back in 1978 at the age of 25 when she started her enzyme manufacturing company, Biocon.
Yet her grit and resilience to prosper made her acquire a small loan from Canara Bank set up a small team, and start developing bio enzymes. Thorough knowledge of fermentation, thanks to her experience working in Australia, helped are get better at R&D and scale efficiently.
In 1998, she took a huge leap after entering the pharmaceuticals industry with products like statins, insulin, immuno-suppressants, or monoclonal antibodies. Eventually, Mazumdar-Shaw expanded her venture not only in terms of products but also production capacity.
In 2004, Biocon’s IPO was oversubscribed 33 times with a market valuation of $1.11 billion, becoming the second Indian company to cross the $1-billion mark on the first day of listing.
Mazumdar-Shaw is also a recipient of numerous accolades including the Othmer Gold Medal and was listed as the 68th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes in 2019.
5. Vani Kola – Founder of Kalaari Capital
It is one challenge for a women entrepreneur to launch a start-up but to analyze why a start-up has an investment potential is another task.
Vani Kola knows the best about managing both the former and the latter.
After an acclaimed entrepreneurial career spanning over two decades, Vaani came back to India in 2006 after achieving her ambitions in the Silicon Valley. She wished to explore the venture capitalist market and learn more about the start-up ecosystem in the country. But the scenario was quite uncertain and stale.
After extensive market research, Vani started noticing signs of promising start-ups that could shape the future and help her build remarkable assets.
The same year, she teamed up with fellow Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Vinod Dham and launched Indo-US Venture Partners (IUVP), in partnership with New Enterprise Associates (NEA).
After four years of operations, she decided to go solo and rebranded the firm as Kalaari Capital. Today, under the leadership of Vani, the firm has over 200 assets under it with total capital raised of USD 740 million.
Being awarded as India’s ‘Most Powerful Women in Business’ by both Forbes and Fortune magazines, she is known as the ‘Mother of Venture Capitalism in India’.
6. Radhika Ghai – Co-Founder of Shopclues
The E-commerce industry is full of male-dominated giants like Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, and many more. To be the only female entrepreneur making a place among them was nothing short of thrilling for Radhika Ghai, Co-founder, of Shopclues.
While pursuing her MBA in the USA in 2012, Radhika was wished to explore the e-commerce set up in India. After relentless encouragement from her partner Sandeep, she moved back to the country only to compete against major e-commerce platforms. Not to mention shaking off the uncertainty with the arrival of Amazon.
With very little capital in hand as compared to her competitors, Radhika along with Sanjay Sethi established Shopclues as a platform connecting buyers and merchants. It went on to become a unicorn with a valuation of US$1.1 billion within five years. In 2019, it was acquired by a Singapore-based e-commerce platform named, Qoo10.
Radhika is currently the Founder and CEO of Kindlife, a new age beauty and wellness platform that hosts 150+ curated brands across beauty, nutrition, and home care.
7. Suchi Mukherjee – Founder and CEO of Limeroad
During pregnancy, women go through immense challenges, hardships, and experiences that are incomparable and take a toll on their bodies. Yet to come up with an innovative business idea during this time is exceptional.
Suchi Mukherjee came across the idea of a social fashion retail platform while she was expecting her second child in London. Soon after his birth, she moved back to India by herself in 2011 to bring her entrepreneur idea to fruition.
Apart from the initial business challenges setting infrastructure, bank processes, company filings, and much more, Suchi had to travel once every month to visit her children and husband back in London.
Yet her experience working with eBay, Skype, and Virgin Media only instilled in her wisdom that wasn’t going to deter easily. After acquiring her initial capital of USD 5 million dollars, Suchi launched Limeroad in 2012 along with her partners, Prashant Malik and Ankush Mehra.
Today, it has a total valuation of USD 51.9 million and a 50,000+ strong women community creating their own mix-and-match designs based on products in the platform’s catalog.
The women mentioned on this list are not the only ones at the forefront of female entrepreneurship in India. There are countless other women entrepreneurs in India who strive every day not only to fulfill their ambitions but also to provide exceptional services to the population and create employment.
This was just a glimpse that shares with you the willingness and ability of women to revolutionize various sectors and shape the future.
This article is part of the International Women’s Day Week series – #BreakingTheBias.