Women entrepreneurs are going places, not just abroad but closer home in India too. The early 2000s have been a heady period of constructive developments in the women’s and girl children’s sector, with more women than ever before becoming employed in both rural and urban sectors, getting a higher education, and participating in social change making, politics, and entrepreneurship. These trends are positive in essence, and the good thing is that there is practically no collateral damage with millions of women leaving the confines of homes, often never to return to domesticity full-time.
Even with this mass exodus of women from homes and from behind an assortment of social purdahs and into public spaces as employees, employers, managers, and skilled workers, as few as 14% of India’s businesses are run by women. 12.9% of all CEOs in the country are women. A similar percent is in other leadership roles. There is a 24.8% mean gap in pay between the genders. These are disheartening statistics.
But these facts and figures do come with a silver lining. In modern times, some women entrepreneurs in India are setting a living exemplar of what women can achieve if they shed the trappings of stereotypical roles assigned to them by an old and dilapidated social norm system that is the gender’s inheritance from their mothers and grandmothers. These women are independent businesswomen in their own right, and each one of them overachievers in their chosen career paths. Let’s explore the roles played by three important women in the social enterprise landscape in India, and try and break down what they do to contribute to their communities, and how they have done it.
Pushpa Aman Singh:
Pushpa is the founder of GuideStar India, an NGO information repository that is widely trusted as India’s best, in terms of vetting and due diligence. She has worked as a financial advisor for a number of social enterprises and assisted entrepreneurs in a similar capacity, helping scale nonprofits and organizations with a more capitalistic business model, and served as the COO of giving India. She is committed to designing exhaustive and in-depth compliance processes for NGOs in the country and creating a stable and sustainable platform for them to showcase their work. For Pushpa, visibility of good work done to make change is a goal worth working for.
Nearly two decades ago, when fewer women stepped up as entrepreneurs to reckon with, Mari founded GlobalGiving Foundation. She is also President of the organization, headquartered in Washington D.C. The former World Bank employee has participated in the innovation and design of dozens of global economic projects but came into her own as a social entrepreneur making a difference at grassroots levels. GlobalGiving is a non-profit (the largest in the world), with a state, and simple, focus on making the world a better place. Mari seeks to do this in collaboration with other nonprofits and social work bodies, as well as philanthropists who share the same dream.
Khushboo, an alumna of the Parsons School of Design, is one of India’s young social entrepreneurs who went through a radical career shift from luxe fashion to enter the medical and social crowdfunding scenario. In 2015, she co-founded Impact Guru, which has hosted over 15000 crowdfunding campaigns in the two years since its inception.
Khushboo says that there are parallels between fashion and fundraising. “Both are public in character, and both allow a participant to make a statement of sorts. Crowdfunding carries this agenda further than fashion because you get to campaign for causes important to you, as well as make donations to projects you support. In a sense, it is a space where you can fearlessly express yourself in humanitarian ways.”
Khushboo’s work in the social enterprise space is motivated by the belief that nobody should die because they were not able to afford medical treatment and that all social causes are worthy enough of public attention