Young Voice: The inspiring tale of female entrepreneurs who are making a mark in their respective fields and setting the trend

Who says entrepreneurship is a male-dominated world? Further still, it is no longer limited to the experienced. There are women as young as 25 who have made a mark in the world of entrepreneurship.

Priyanka Agrawal is the co-founder of Wishberry, a creative crowd-funding platform. An alumnus of Wharton/UPenn, she started her first venture which stemmed from a senior engineering design project. As the U.S. Government did not offer “start-up visas” back in 2007, she remained a “founding investor” in the business and took a traditional job as a consultant in New York and was transferred to India in 2008. Disheartened that she couldn’t be a part of the first company, she decided to quit her job and start something of her own.

Wishberry was launched in 2010 as a traditional online wedding gift registry platform as the founders felt the need for a crowd-gifting application in the wedding space in India. In April 2012, Wishberry forayed into the creative crowd-funding space, by extending the platform to film-makers, theatre groups, musicians, etc. to help fund their projects.

Priyanka said that the motivating factor was that entrepreneurship, especially in emerging economies like India, is a long and arduous journey. One has to pivot the business model many times to create real value for the Indian consumer base.

She believes that the Indian market is and has been very open to female entrepreneurs and argues that the challenges women entrepreneurs face in India are more cultural than market-oriented.

Sports world

Another young entrepreneur, Ashwini Jaisimha, 24, a certified sports psychologist and lifestyle coach, is the CEO and co- founder of A3 performance, a company she set up, to create an eco-system to support athletes reach their peak performance in sport and daily life activities.

Ashwini says that the idea behind setting up A3 was to build an environment of trust with athletes to help them cope with highly competitive situations and work with them to enhance their optimal performance in training and in competition. She felt the need to set up the company in February, 2013 for athletes and fitness enthusiasts, who are often left to fend for themselves while creating a support team.

A sportswoman (State player in basketball and ten pin bowling), she was aware that she would always be associated with the field, which is what motivated her to set up a one-stop sports performance centre.

For the artists

There are other entrepreneurs like Fouqia Wajid, who start a project that turns into a full-time profession.

Fouqia (21), a journalism student is the founder and director of OnFire, a youth-run organisation that aims at providing youth a platform in various artistic fields such as acting, literature, dance and direction. She has written and directed plays and published a collection of poems. She is also the editor-in-chief of an online youth magazine.

Fouqia says she felt the lack of exposure for youth in creative fields. She believes that there are opportunities but they do not get a platform to make it big. To her, the real problem is that the youth have to compete with veterans to establish themselves and in the process, their interest wanes.

She divides her day between college and work. A typical work day has her shuttling between rehearsals of plays, editing the online publications and interviewing people.

Beautiful trends

And then there are others, who have taken up a profession that pushes the boundaries of conventional jobs and are setting a new trend entirely. Sahar Khatija, 21, a sociology major, is the owner of Ezina Redefine Beauty, ensuring that women feel their best on special occasions

For Sahar, it all started when she joined Mount Carmel College (MCC) in Bangalore. The credit course system offered a variety of courses that provided practical learning and she thanks her luck that a beautician course was introduced the very year she joined MCC. She then started working with the college fashion team and has not looked back since.

From there came the decision to become a beautician and make people look good. Initial experiments of her skills were on her kin for special occasions which were perfected through the course at MCC. Subsequently, she started getting good offers and did not want to miss out on the opportunity.

She began her venture with the savings she had and bought all the essential tools. Over the years, with the help of her sisters — who sent her products — she was able to expand both her business and her collection. She plans to become a full-fledged make-up artist and open a studio to cater to the needs of all her customers, professionally.

(The writer is a trainee journalist, IIJNM)