India’s Emerging Female Social Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship, like other business, tends to be dominated by men at the moment, and many widely known successful entrepreneurs are men (think Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and closer to home, Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal of Flipkart). So where are women? Not all that hidden or absent, it turns out. They’re claiming the entrepreneurship space for themselves increasingly, especially with social enterprises. While there are some great examples of strong and talented women in this space, such as Ela Bhatt, founder of SEWA, Neera Nundy, founder of Dasra and Shaheen Mistri, founder of Akanksha Foundation and CEO of Teach for India, to name but a few, who are the emerging women entrepreneurs of today? This excellent post I came across this morning introduces ten of them. Here are a couple I found particularly inspiring:

Shital Shah
Shital completed her bachelors at Northwestern and her Masters in Public Administration at NYU and then went on to work in different capacities with organizations like the United Nations, Oxfam, the World Bank, and Acumen Fund. She now works as a strategy consultant focused on mobile money start-ups globally with ShoreBank International.

Along the way, she helped start ThinkChange India (TC-I), the one-stop website for keeping up with social entrepreneurship and social innovation in India. Through this effort, she started developing networks and relationships with social enterprises, making TC-I a demanded media partner in the country. Her work highlighting and connecting the social enterprise sector in India makes it easier for others to grow and learn in such a rapidly changing space. She is now interested in cultivating an intentional start-up ecosystem in her base of Ahmedabad, India.

Saloni Malhotra
Saloni is the founder of DesiCrew, a for-profit organization employing over 300 people that’s focused on creating knowledge-based livelihood opportunities in small towns and rural areas. Saloni stepped down as a the CEO in March 2012 to hand over to a professional management team and continues to participate on the Board.

In 2012, along with her friends, Saloni co-founded Safecity, a citizen’s initiative to make Indian Cities safer again. The platform encourages people to share their personal stories of harassment and the location where the incident occurred. As more people pin, hotspots are created. The team then works with the relevant authorities to improve the situation on the ground.

Akanksha Hazari
With a Bachelors from Princeton and a Masters from Cambridge, Akanksha is undoubtedly one smart lady. She founded m.Paani in 2012, after it won the Hult Prize and was honored by President Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative, and is currently piloting its innovative model in India. m.Paani is harnessing the power and reach of mobile phones to address access to key basic services including safe water, education, healthcare, energy, and nutrition utilizing a unique loyalty program model, based off of the success of similar programs for airline and credit card companies. Akanksha already has secured a m.Paani partner for a pilot in Africa, which will begin soon.

Anu Sridharan
Armed with a Bachelors in Civil Engineering and a Masters in Civil Systems Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, Anu is poised to transform the way technology allows us to interact with our urban systems. Her company NextDrop allows urban Indian residents to track the availability of piped water through SMS and already serves 18,000 people in the state of Karnataka.

Who are some other emerging female social entrepreneurs in India? If you know of anyone who has started their own business with a social purpose, please do share!

About Ayesha Vemuri

Ayesha Vemuri is responsible for thought leadership and outreach efforts at CKS. She has undergraduate degree in Visual Art from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where she also studied such varied subjects as biology, literature and the humanities. At CKS, she is responsible for curating the Design Public blog, managing our various social media platforms, organizing Pecha Kucha Nights and contributing to the intellectual content of the Design Public Conclave and other CKS initiatives. Find her on twitter at @ayeshavemuri.
This entry was posted in Design!publiC and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *