Entrepreneurship is supposed to be about intellect, daring and a good business sense. Who said you need to be a man to be an entrepreneur? Female business runners struggle with far more challenges from trust, network-building and a patriarchal mind-set. This article follows the journey of one such female entrepreneur.

Who runs the world, girls? An exploration behind the question mark.

Devanshi Chitlangia is the founder of an instant tea premix company called Chaika.

Though women have time and again proved their capability, the gender gap still remains. Be it through Beyoncé’s song (Run The World Girls)  or Megan Rapinoe’s efforts  to get the wage gap to zero, the world is talking about gender equality. While we have progressed and the gap has narrowed, there still remains a long path unexplored. 

 

According to a survey by the Economic Times (2019), only 23% of the workforce in India were women. This stands far below the world average of 48%. The Index of Women Entrepreneurs 2019 survey ranked India 52 out of the 59 participating countries. This  begs the question, how can we identify and overcome the challenges barring the entry of women into the world of entrepreneurs?

 

Wearing an entrepreneur’s hat is not easy and for Indian women it is even tougher..  Shalu Yadav, CTO and Co-founder of Sniffer in an interview with The Entrepreneur says, “(The) lack of role models and mentors for women in the technology sector is a big problem. Those enrolling in engineering courses do not have anyone to look up to. Also for women, the standard for doing well in life, as is set by the society, is graduation, marriage and then starting a family.

 

Aradhita and Devanshi, founded Chaika, which is an instant tea premix company. They realized that there are millions of women like them who love tea but do not know how to make it or are so busy with their lives that they can barely find the time to make the perfect cup of tea Chaika breaks the Indian stereotype that the place for a woman is the kitchen! These women didn’t just create a product; they took a prevalent problem and gave the world a solution. 

 

They say, “We were turned down by packagers and blenders and often heard comments on how we should get our fathers/ husbands along if we wanted to negotiate prices.” Building credibility in the manufacturing space was a challenge. We spent time understanding the industry and would approach vendors after we were confident of our knowledge base. The ease of doing business matters a lot for growth and we only work with vendors that are hassle free. While talking to new vendors, distributors etc we try to be strategic and talk with authority. Thats the best way of getting accepted.” 

 

There exists a  difference between a hobby and a business. A large part of India still looks at  women run enterprises to be a hobby rather than a business. From a young age, fathers take their sons to the office and get them acquainted with the business world. But what about the daughters? 

 

According to First Round Capital, companies with a female founder performed 63% better than all-male founding teams. Amitabh Kant, CEO of Niti Ayog stressed on the importance of adding women to the Indian workforce. “And if we are able to take it to 48 per cent, we will be adding close to USD 700 billion to India’s economy.”

 

If you look for female leaders around the world making the most impact, Jacinda Ardern, the PM of New Zealand would be making the best noise. Managing the country while facing a terror attack, and leading the country during a crisis like the Covid-19, all of this while taking care of a new born baby, one can only stand and applaud the efforts of this fine woman.

 

The United Nations states that gender gaps cost any economy an approximate of 15% of its GDP. Studies show that bringing more women to work boosts productivity and brings about economic diversification which would help economies grow. According to the UN Sustainable Development Goals bringing women to the workforce would help increase their financial independence, which in turn would help the social development of any nation from a policy point of view. Empowering women is the start of a virtuous cycle. 

 

Chauvinistic attitude stands as the biggest hurdle hindering equality between men and women.  Women face an inordinate amount of challenges in the business world.  Only when society can look at women and think beyond their ability to reproduce, will things change. We just don’t need more capable women in the workforce, we need a much more progressive society. 

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