Inspiring journeys of our entrepreneurs!
Women in India have for ages been known to be in the shadows of their male counterparts. The predominant patriarchy in the society defined the roles of women within the four walls of their homes – as nurturers of their families – but seldom in the light of a leader. However, women have also been known to defy these patriarchal norms and assume pivotal roles in changing the course of our nation. They have shaped our history, impacted our present and are paving the way to our future.
At EduMentum, we are privileged to be joined by such courageous and powerful women who are working towards transforming education and enabling our children with opportunities to grow into successful citizens. These women are shattering the glass ceiling by leading their organizations with the values of equity and empowerment across India. As March marked International Women’s Day, it is only fitting that we celebrate the spirit these inspiring women share.
We delved deeper into the entrepreneurial journey of a few of our women social entrepreneurs to understand their journeys. Curious to know, “What drives them? What aspirations they hold for the future?” Well, let’s find out.
Saldon Stanzin is the co-founder of rZamba (Cohort 20). The organization based out of Leh, Kargil which works towards bridging the gaps in the current education system by connecting resources, policies and best practices to the schools.
“My self-doubts created by the environment around me made me think and reflect as to why can’t I do something out of the norm (becoming a doctor, engineer, teacher, etc.) Why can’t I start something of my own even after becoming a wife or a mother? I wanted to go beyond those fears and doubts and see life through a different perspective for myself and that inspired me to become an entrepreneur.
I realized that being a woman entrepreneur might mean a lot of disapproval from family, relatives, and society in the beginning, but it also means more confidence, resilience, and perseverance to achieve what most of the people around you think you can’t. Being an entrepreneur opens up a world of possibilities, opportunities, adventure and most of all great learning (about self, successes, and failures).
Reflecting on how it has changed me for the better, I believe that as women are empathetic, nurturing, patient, loving and caring, they are essential to ensure an equitable family, community, and society. A major mindset shift among women is required for them to believe in all these possibilities and encourage them to become entrepreneurs.
My one advice to all the budding entrepreneurs out there will be to believe that what you desire to become is achievable and work hard to make that a reality for yourself and others.”
Regila is the co-founder of Vidhya Vidhai (Cohort Alpha). Vidhya Vidhai is based out of Chennai, Tamil Nadu and works towards whole-school transformation and cluster transformation of affordable private schools and public schools.
“My inspiration to be an entrepreneur came from my family who was always committed to breaking the taboos and initiating change for a better society. As I was also part of the Social Enterprise Cell in my university, I was fascinated by the impact the social entrepreneurs were creating and my then classmate and now Co-founder motivated me to pursue entrepreneurship at a young age.
For me, women entrepreneurship is a revolution where women have moved beyond solving problems for themselves to solving them at a societal level.This proves the courage, strength and the urge to change which is first realized by a woman and then transferred to society.
I agree that being an entrepreneur is challenging and being a woman entrepreneur is even more challenging but once you take the courage and begin your journey it’s as rewarding as the challenge. I would urge everyone to take the first step and then it’s just achievements after achievements!”
Ayeshna is the co-founder of Varitra Foundation (Cohort 20). Varitra is based out of Karnal, Haryana and works towards transforming rural government schools into quality education spaces.
“Two years into the game, I have realized that it takes much more than just ‘ambition’ & ‘an idea’ for women to become entrepreneurs. Because the fight isn’t as much to become one as it is to stay and succeed. It takes courage and resilience to crack through conformity, stay focussed and continue going ahead.
I believe that entrepreneurship can be an important contributor to the economic and personal growth of women. Given their different societal role & social experiences (as perhaps compared to men), women bring a distinct, fresh & diverse perspective to the table. They have their own understanding of what is needed and that intuition and value-system are much required to create healthy, safe and transparent work cultures.
In order to encourage this, women definitely need more exposure to entrepreneurial education and mentorship because mobility and access are still the biggest disablers for women. We need more spaces with women’s stories and voices to encourage more girls and women to pursue their entrepreneurial ambitions.”
Saumya is the co-founder of Barefoot edu (Cohort 19). Barefoot edu is based out of Mumbai and is working towards providing effective early childhood care and education in different states of India.
“ Growing up, I never aspired to become an entrepreneur. I always imagined my professional life in an established organization. But my desire to contribute to the transformation of the education sector and then classmate and now cofounder-Jonathan inspired me to take this path of entrepreneurship.
The way we are brought up typically as women are to cater to the needs of others before thinking for ourselves. I also went through the same dilemma but then one of my mentors told me by choosing this path I am breaking patriarchal barriers every day. This thought has stuck with me and helps me go further when I feel low. So we need a supportive ecosystem for personal and professional growth. We should also encourage having more conversations around patterned gendered behavior, gender biases and how it plays a role in decision making. This will encourage women to come out and choose a path to be independent.”
Tanya is the co-founder of Samanta Foundation (Cohort 20). Samanta is based out of Dehradun, Uttarakhand and works towards building an effective education system for the forest communities.
“In my understanding to be a woman entrepreneur one needs to overcome multifaceted challenges such as social, systemic and challenges at the individual level. It is always about putting extra effort to be in the race. Therefore, for a woman to be an entrepreneur things start from the very scratch, from creating opportunities to proving self-worth, from creating a space to owning it.
To encourage more women to take on the entrepreneurial journey the mindset that considers women as someone who always needs support to stand needs to change. As they say: Change is the only constant, so we must evolve into a better and equal world.
One advice that I would like to give to all budding entrepreneurs is to never believe in the privileges and always be fearless in speaking your heart out. To be independent and empowered we need to trust our own strengths and work on our weaknesses.”
Vasudha is the co-founder of Mera Gaon Meri Duniya (Cohort 20). MGMD is based out of Madhya Pradesh and works towards transforming villages through education and building ownership.
“I became an entrepreneur as I believe in creation and building an enterprise is a big opportunity to create. Also, I have always wanted to create a workspace that is people-centric and gives them an environment to realize their potential, because I have not had that space earlier wherever I worked.
The one advice that I would like to give to the budding entrepreneurs is to ensure to have a daily dose of empathy for self, and focus on the process over outcome.”
Different facets of life inspired our women leaders to choose this journey of entrepreneurship and contribute to the betterment of society. Like them, they would also like to see other women taking upon this role and breaking the stereotypes and barriers around women leading the way. Through their efforts, they are trying to change the mindset of people around them but this is a long fight and our EduMentees are determined to win it.
53% of our EduMentees are women and we are proud to be a part of their remarkable journeys. We would like to congratulate them on their success and we look forward to the realization of their change efforts in the country.