Women Entrepreneurs 2023-08-16

Womenpreneurs shaping the future of India

“Behind every successful woman is herself” is a new-age adage which is changing the world in the 21st century. Women are leading in all aspects of life, be it education, job opportunities and now even Entrepreneurship!

Womenpreneurs shaping the future of India

“Behind every successful woman is herself” is a new-age adage which is changing the world in the 21st century. Women are leading in all aspects of life, be it education, job opportunities and now even Entrepreneurship!

 Women are at the forefront, be it starting novel ventures or paving the way for wannabe lady entrepreneurs, women entrepreneurs in India are leading a cultural revolution. The role of the fairer sex in the business world is pivotal and has led to enhancing the economic growth of our nation as well as employment generation, and industrialisation. However, till now this number is small, only seven out of 100 entrepreneurs in India are women.


Promising Future of Women Entrepreneurship


As mentioned India has a long way to go in regards to women leadership. The sixth economic census by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation shows women comprise just 13.76 percent of the total entrepreneurs in India. This is just 8.05 million out of the total 58.5 million entrepreneurs. Nonetheless, several government initiatives and women-oriented business policies aim to boost the entrepreneurial spirit.  Backed by these policies, businesses owned by Indian women are likely to witness 90 percent growth in the next five years. According to ‘Women Entrepreneurship in India- Powering the economy with her, a report by Bain and Co. & Google, Women Entrepreneurs in India would be generating 150-170 million jobs by 2030.


‘Mompreneur’ leading the Bandwagon 

India stands among the top nations for producing female graduates in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) industry. It stands true that Indian women are game changers in the fields of science and technology. On the other hand it is also true that getting married and having kids change the lives of 90 percent of our women folk. Many women are not able to do full justice to their professional lives. Hence, starting their own ventures fulfill their dreams as well as provide stability to their carriers. Therefore the term “Mompreneur’” does full justice to these professionally capable women who cannot do a 9 to 5 job.  As shared by Anuja Kabra, Co-Founder- Skippi Ice Pops, “I describe myself as a ‘mompreneur’ with passion towards entrepreneurship. I have worked more than 14 years in the F&B space.” 


Are Women Entrepreneurs-Better Owners?


Businesses that have women as leaders are considered to run very efficiently and some of the compelling reasons to invest in such a business are:

  • Higher Return Potential: Mostly women-led businesses require less investment but generate higher returns
  • Multi-tasking: Innately women are multi-taskers and can juggle multiple things at once. This trait proves highly beneficial in generating various income streams and nurturing start-ups. As per a survey conducted by psychologists at the University of Hertfordshire, when women and men were given two tasks at the same time, women slowed by 61 per cent, whereas men slowed by 77 percent. 
  • Risk Taking Ability: As per a survey by KPMG 43 Percent of women were willing to take more risks as compared with the opposite sex. Moreover, women are found to be better than men at envisioning opportunities
  • Adaptability and higher EQ: Women have a dynamic ability to adapt. A survey conducted by Bain & Company, Google and AWE Foundation of 350 women solopreneurs and small company owners in urban India found that companies run by women founders were resilient and fast to adapt. The results also showed that women also had a higher emotional quotient (EQ).


Top Business Sectors for Women Entrepreneurs

It is true that when a woman sets her mind on something, nothing can stop her from achieving her goals. However, there are a few business opportunities that are fully equipped to succeed for women. We have selected a few of such time-tested business opportunities in which women franchisees as well as franchisors are sure to succeed.


Building Strong Foundations with Preschools

Women entrepreneurs have increasingly been on the rise despite social and economic factors that impede their access to opportunities, finances, business networks, and family support. Education, for one, plays a crucial role in their rising sense of independence. Now when we talk about women entrepreneurs in the context of the preschool segment, their role extends beyond the conventional one. They are facilitators of knowledge instead of just caretakers. Education as a business is a win-win sector. Moreover, running pre-schools and play ways is considered a women’s forte. Basically women are nurturers and have the maternal love and warmth along with business acumen that is must for any business. 

Bachpan Play School was founded at the beginning of this century (in 2004) to cater to the requirements of changing educational needs of children. Earlier preschools were considered a kind of luxury or daycare centre for children, rather than a place where their foundational years would set their pace for a successful future.  As shared by Tijay Gupta, Co-Founder & COO, Bachpan Global Preschool says, “With our determination to systematise this largely unorganised segment, we came up with modern methods of teaching, learning technologies, integrated curriculum, and even proper uniform for kids.”  Now Bachpan Play School has gained wide recognition across India, and today has 1200+ schools. Over 60 Percent of its Directors are women as well as most of the staff consists of women. On women entrepreneurs running preschools, Tijay Gupta, C0-Founder & COO, Bachpan Global Preschool shares, “Running preschools offers women the right kind of work-life balance, low investment with profits, and overall satisfaction that most women in India aim for. Women entrepreneurs, no doubt, are capable of excelling in any field of their choice, but the preschool education segment comes with vast opportunities for them to explore. Most children have their mothers as first tutors, and most teachers are women, so if women are not best suited for education, then perhaps none is.”  He adds on, “More than half of our franchisees are women. We expect to keep expanding our network of Bachpan Play Schools as well as Academic Heights Public Schools (AHPS) and create many more opportunities for housewives out there as well as many other women who carry the ambition to start their own businesses.”

Another name in the Preschool sector to reckon with is Little Elly, which was founded and established in 2004–05 in Bengaluru. In 2007, a new company, M/s Learning Edge India Private Limited was formed which started the franchise model for Little Elly. From one preschool, the brand has now grown in leaps and bounds to include close to 130+ Little Elly centers nationwide with overseas footprints in Seattle, USA and Kathmandu. Around 90 percent of its franchisees are women. It is rightly said that "when women thrive, society benefits, and succeeding generations are given a better start in life."  The brand believes franchising has taken it to newer heights. As told by Preeti Bhandari, Co-Founder, Little Elly Preschool, “Without a franchise business model, we as a business would not have been able to reach a global level. Womenpreneurs have and will continue to excel in whatever industry they choose, but the education industry does seem to employ a majority of women. Comparatively, women are better suited for running schools and preschools, as they have a nurturing and holistic attitude towards learning and have a higher emotional quotient, which is a must when handling children. They not only equip them with the curricular technical skills but also make sure that other important qualities like empathy, kindness, mutual love and respect, etc., are instilled in them.” She adds, “Currently, the preschool industry in India is undergoing remarkable changes. As it becomes more organized, with many leading brands tapping into its potential, the sector is set to witness massive growth. Encouraging women's entrepreneurship in this space can lead to tremendous social change, making women more empowered and independent. It can also lead to a more conducive balance of male and female entrepreneurs in this space.” 

Yet another budding Preschool, Wonder Land Play Center & Institute, started in 2008 in Vadodara is an initiative of a womanpreneur, Darshana Vasudev Bhavsar.  She says, “Wonderland preschool nurtures children's creativity and curiosity. Our school prepares students for a lifetime of learning. We as a brand aim to bring more and more womenpreneurs on our platform. “

Beautifying Inside Out with Chains of Beauty Salons

Beauty and women are synonyms. Since time immemorial beauty and make-up is considered women’s forte. Therefore the beauty industry has witnessed many women entrepreneurs who faced unprecedented challenges and emerged victorious in the last many years.  The concept of beauty and self-care was ‘alien’ to Indian consumers, but what started as a change then revolutionised our nation. Today, the Indian beauty industry has become synonymous with female founders who are leading the way in the business. 

Even though beauty is traditionally considered a female domain, business in general has historically favoured men. Womenpreneurs who establish a successful business in the face of many challenges, both societal and financial, deserve all the credit. Talking about beauty, the first name that comes to our mind is of Shahnaz Husain who set the Shahnaz Husain chain of salons over five decades back. She is the pioneer of Ayurvedic beauty care and has taken Ayurveda worldwide. Today, she heads the Shahnaz Husain Group of Companies, with its global network of franchise salons, retail outlets, beauty training academies, as well as 380 Ayurvedic formulations for beauty and health care.

Another name in the beauty sector that everyone knows is VLCC. VLCC was founded in 1989. It is today a leading beauty and wellness platform with an integrated offering of branded skincare products and high-end specialised beauty and wellness services. Vandana Luthra, Founder, VLCC on its popularity and success says, “The brand currently operates in 310 locations across 139 cities and 11 countries in the GCC Region, East Africa, South Asia and South East Asia, employing over 3,000 professionals, including medical doctors, nutritionists, physiotherapists, cosmetologists, fitness experts and wellness counsellors.”The company manufactures and markets an extensive portfolio of skin-care, hair-care and body-care products under the VLCC Natural Sciences brand. For taking the franchise route for success she said, “It has expanded VLCC’s reach and visibility pan India to Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities and towns. Currently, VLCC Beauty & Wellness Clinics and VLCC Institutes of Beauty & Nutrition operate in over 125 cities in India.” VLCC has been an epitome of success and has been motivating thousand of aspiring womenpreneurs to take the leap. While guiding women entrepreneurs, Vandana Luthra advices, “Leaders should set examples and be the role models that juniors aim to become. Women are more naturally sensitive and empathetic towards people. Bringing that out at your workplace can be an added advantage. It will help you inspire your team members more and set higher expectations. As women, we have immense potential to be natural leaders at both professional and personal fronts. All we need to do is focus on our natural strengths and channel them into our work.”

Naturals Group of Salons was started in 2000 by K Veena along with her husband, CK Kumaravel. It was built with an aim to detox, rejuvenate and relax!  Naturals has revolutionised the beauty and franchising industry with over 700+ salons spread across India. Led by a woman, the brand focuses on providing women with employment and freedom to build a career for them selves. It has created 500 women franchise partners and has trained over 10000 staff. The brand aims to create 1000 successful womenpreneurs by 2025.

Another brand which is prioritising women entrepreneurship is Dessange Paris. The international brand has entered India via Master Franchise with Xurious Beauty Fashion Pvt Ltd.  Dr Preethi Adusumilli, Director, Xurious Beauty Fashions Pvt. Ltd shares, “Me and my husband who is also a doctor, were very unhappy about the various harmful chemicals that went into the shampoos and other beauty products.  After extensive research, we wanted to start our brand with organic and safe products. That is when we came across Dessange International and we were very fascinated by the passion and the vision which was matching to ours. After waiting for three long years we got the master franchise for this brand for our country.” The couple has taken the Master franchise of another brand, Camille Albane. Dr Preethi shares, “In today's world, a brand with a long-standing history holds a lot of value. When it comes to Dessange and Camille albane, both have a presence of more than 75 years across the globe and in more than 45 countries. In a country like India which is fastest growing and developing country, the population is looking for new brands and in this way, both our brands have a great welcome in the country.”  About beauty being a woman’s forte she shares, “There is no inherent reason why women would be more suitable to run a salon than men. Both genders can be successful salon owners and managers. It may be that historically, the beauty industry has been seen to be feminine, leading to a higher representation of women in these roles.  Ultimately, success in running a salon depends on the individual's skills, experience, and dedication to their business.” On empowering women Dr Preethi shares, “Till date, more than 75 percent of our salons are running successfully by women. We aim to empower more women with the help of all the latest technology to operate the salons remotely and efficiently, even for women who find a challenge to step out often due to their commitments.”


Gifting Culture Empowering Women

Specialty retail in India is heading for a stupendous growth in the near future. Both Indian and international market leaders are eying the Indian market to get maximum benefits. Specialty retail currently contributes more than 50 percent of the total organised retail market in India. Retailers specialising in high level of involvement categories would do better, as specialty stores are the destination shopping landmarks. 

Similarly women entrepreneurship in the retail industry is on the rise with more and more women starting their own businesses. There are several factors contributing to this growth: Change in societal attitude towards women in the workforce, increased access to resources and a growing demand for diverse and unique product offerings. As more and more women are entering the workforce and taking on leadership roles, they are increasingly feeling confident in their ability to start and run their own businesses. This is leading to a spike in the number of women owned ventures. Another factor contributing to the growth is the increased access to resources and support. There are now more programs, grants and mentorship opportunities available for women looking to start their own brands. Additionally the growth of e-commerce has played a pivotal role and has significantly contributed to the rise in entrepreneurship.

Talking about gifting, the name of Ferns N Petals comes to mind instantly. FNP has added a new dimension to specialty retail. Established in the year 1994 by Vikaas Gutgutia with a vision to serve the consumers with the best quality and variety of floral arrangements, FNP opened its first floral boutique in Delhi. Today FNP has evolved from a single flower store to a multi-category gifting company with over 400+ outlets in more than 125+ cities pan India. It also has a strong international presence in UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Singapore. At present FNP offers a range of well curated, well designed products across various categories, such as cakes, flowers, plants, chocolates and personalized merchandise.  Anil Sharma, COO Retail & Franchising FNP on women entering entrepreneurship shares, “As consumers become more conscious of the impact of their purchasing decisions they are looking for products and services that align with their values. Women entrepreneurs who often prioritize social and environmental mandate are well positioned to meet the demand. The other reason why the retail sector is a popular choice is that it offers a flexible work schedule. Many retail stores are open for extended hours, including weekends and women with family responsibilities may find it easier to work during shifts that fit their needs. Additionally this industry is often less physically demanding which can further attract women to it.” 

The gifting sector is a highly emotional industry, as it is centred around on the act of giving and receiving gifts, which is often an expression of love, appreciation or gratitude. It is crucial for a gifting company to understand the sentiments behind the gift, so they can provide the perfect gift to suite the occasion. This requires a high level of empathy or emotional intelligence. Women understand the concept of gifting very well, they are more emotionally connected to the thought of gifting. They are the ones reminding the family members frequently of occasions and celebrations, wishing friends and families, exchanging gifts. Hence the vertical is well suited for them. Research has also suggested that women entrepreneurs tend to have higher EQs compared to their male counterparts which may be an important factor to attain success in this sector.” adds Anil Sharma.  


On women partnering with FNP as franchisees, Anil Sharma says, “At FNP we have welcomed aspiring women entrepreneurs to our franchise program with equal gusto; today we are proud to claim that 40 percent of our franchise owners are women. The success of the program is widespread and there have been instances where one woman is the proud owner of more than one FNP store.  FNP educates and trains the women franchisee owners on how to attain a work life balance, by allocating and reallocating workforce.”

Empowering Kids along with Women with Learning and Training Institutes 

The education and training industry is one of the sectors where women have traditionally been well-represented, and is considered a top sector for women entrepreneurs. This may be attributed to the following reasons:

  • The education and training industry is perceived to be a stable, safe and low risk option. Hence it is the first choice to invest their money and time. 
  • Most women would seek a career where they are able to balance family and work demands; the education industry allows them to achieve this balance
  • Post pandemic, the education industry is seeing a growing demand for online and remote education, which can be a more accessible and flexible option for women entrepreneurs
  • The industry is also seeing a growing trend of personal development, digital coaching and mentoring services, which are often seen as a natural fit for women entrepreneurs who have good communication and interpersonal skills.

Talking about learning and training institutes, one cannot forget to mention the name of Kumon, an International brand that can easily boast of being the largest ‘After school Math & Reading Program’. Born out of a father’s love for his son, Kumon is not restricted by the barriers of language, culture or history. As more people hear about the benefits of the Kumon Method, it continues to reach greater numbers of students throughout the world. Kumon offers learning opportunities in more than 60 countries and regions around the world. Janani MS, successful Franchise Partner of Kumon India Education Pvt Ltd shares, “I entered the world of education as a Franchise Owner for Kumon, to pursue my passion of teaching and to strike a perfect work life balance - something that was elusive in my otherwise exciting corporate life. Today, I am proud to have achieved my dream of creating one of the largest Kumon franchise centres, surviving the pandemic years and emerging as one of the sought after after-school programs in my area of operation.” Kumon as a brand encourages women to become self independent and therefore 90 percent of its franchise partners are women. As shared by Janani, “Women Entrepreneurship is a major driver of economic growth and it is on the rise globally leading to job creation and innovation. Women tend to have stronger networks and connect better with people and hence build great relationship with customers and partners. Both men and women can be successful entrepreneurs, but because of their inherent empathetic nature, women bring a diverse set of skills and perspectives to the table that can be beneficial for businesses. Women also tend to exhibit a more collaborative approach which can be beneficial in a franchise system where the franchisor and franchisee need to work together.”

Adding to the popular concept of Learning after school is yet another popular brand, New Learning Horizons. Founded in 2008, NLH just had one course, ‘ACEM’  Abacus,  which was a whole brain development activity for children. Later ‘Write Well’- Handwriting Improvement, Calligraphy and “Easy Math”- concepts of Vedic Math was added in the portfolio. Further up, the brand added S.T.E.M learning in the form of Coding, Robotics & Science experiments, providing children with experiential learning. Sharing about the brand, Dhiral Panchmatia, Founder, New Learning Horizons says, “NLH was launched with a vision to provide courses for enriching children’s future and its mission was to “Empower Women”. To do so we introduced “Learn, Teach & Earn” providing very low cost home-based franchising opportunities to women all over the country who were willing to utilise their skills and time constructively. Since our launch we have encouraged women to come out of their cocoon and undergo our vocational trainings and earn a supplemental income to support themselves and their families.” She adds, “The age group we cater to starts from 3 year olds to 18 year olds and women are best suited to handle and teach such small children. Our courses of Abacus and Handwriting do not require any qualification or language skills or limited to any geographical boundaries, the requirement is just passion and willingness to learn and teach. The cost of trainings in these programs is also minimal and the skill attained is for a life time.”  Pre Covid NHL had 14 active centres across India were mostly concentrated in Maharashtra and West Bengal. During the pandemic, the brand appointed a Country Master Franchisee in Romania. Dhiral Panchmatia on expansion says, “We are expanding fast and looking to appoint state and city master franchisees not only in India but across the globe. For us the world is the limit.”

Love for Pets with Pet Care and Grooming

Pet care and grooming as a profitable opportunity has really emerged in the last few years. Pet lovers don’t mind spending a few extra bucks to make their pet kids look adorable and cared for. Women being the primary caregivers find a lot of scope in this sector as well.  

Pet Bytes was initiated in the year 2004 to be a one stop pet shop with a complete range of pet food n accessories and home grooming services, along with aquarium maintenance and all other basic level services related to pets. However, in 2007 it officially launched professional grooming services under the brand name Scoopy Scrub. Pet Bytes became the parent company. Preeti Sanjeev Kumar, Co-Founder, Pet Bytes says, “We currently happen to be the largest pet brand with 55 locations across India/Asia, with footings in Thailand, Mauritius, also with branches coming up in Australia and Dubai very soon. We are currently under discussions with at least 300 different locations and franchise prospects across India and abroad and all looking to close the current calendar year at 70–75+ branches.” The entrepreneur couple Preeti and Sanjee Kumar both left their well settled carriers for their love for pets. On women entrepreneurs Preeti said, “Women entrepreneurs about two decades back were fairly unheard of. So with me as an example, especially for our line of business, we were able to show many female prospects the path and helped several women entrepreneurs find space in taking up a franchise of Pet Bytes and Scoopy Scrub and establish profitable business centers across India. Pet grooming sector is definitely the top most for any pet lover and surely women. As once you settle down the business in the first few months to a year, then majorly only supervision is required. Our franchise system provides for the certified grooming professional and other required staff, training, counselling, guidance and back-up all the way through, so after settling things down in the initial period one can strike a balance between work and responsibilities on the home front. Several of our franchise owners, especially women currently own 3-5 branches. More than 50 percent of franchise owners are women. So out of the 55 locations and 50 franchised branches about 28 setups are owned by women entrepreneurs.”  

Clothings are essential for humans then why not for our pets? With this question in mind Nimisha Dixit has launched her brand Dog-O-Bow, a one stop shop of pet clothing and accessories. Sharing about the brand and women entrepreneurship, Nimisha Dixit says, “We are a pet focused business so our attention is always towards those four paws and wagging tails. That said, we actually are always on the lookout for women with brilliant brains. I have always believed that if you’re the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room. I want Dog-O-Bow to be a space where all the talented women can express themselves and their ideas and help us shape up one of the greatest pet care organisations. Mine is a new venture but in short time we have three stores and all are run by women. We have also employed 15 women across different roles in the organisation.”


Chilling with Ice Popsicles

Ice Cream since ages has been the love of all age-groups. No one can resist digging into this sinful cold dessert. However it is with guilt of eating junk. Skippi Ice Pops is changing this guilt into a healthy and safe option. This is first of its kind ice pop made with 100 percent RO water, natural colour and flavours. Naturally delicious, tasty, gluten-free and preservative-free, the yummy icy treats are also teeth-friendly. Co-founders Ravi and Anuja Kabra have over 14 years of experience in the Food & Beverage space. As shared by Anuja Kabra, Co-Founder, Skippi Ice-Pops, “With franchising we at Skippi believe that our brand has become more accessible to all the impulse buyers who would want to relish an amazing popsicle instantly. We are proud that we have given self-employment to so many entrepreneurs and many more to come.” On recruiting women franchisees, she said, “I believe we have close to about 12 women entrepreneurs who have joined our franchise model and this is close to about 9 percent of our total franchisees and we are rolling out easy opportunities to onboard many more women entrepreneurs and our target to make it at least 30 percent of women franchisees by 2025.”  She adds, “We are surely working towards developing more easy to operate franchise model for women. We are loading them up with technology so a lady can stay home and make easy use of technology all the time. Further if they wish to be on the field, our operational team on ground will offer full stack support to them for running a successful business.”


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