‘Only 14% entrepreneurs are women’
Young and old innovators showcase their talent at Maker Mela
Only 14% of the entrepreneurs in India are women and 75% of them earn only ₹1 lakh per year, Dr. Anita Gupta, adviser, Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, said at Somaiya Vidyavihar University on Saturday.
Ms. Gupta was speaking at a conclave on the final day of Maker Mela, a three-day event organised by Research Innovation Incubator Design Laboratory (Riidl). She said, “Although science and technology is a gender-neutral field, the latest data has shown that a lesser number of women turn out to become entrepreneurs in India. Research reports show that if women are supported to choose a career as an entrepreneur, the Gross Domestic Product of a country can rise by 1.4% in a year.”
“Women enter the entrepreneurship environment which lacks the atmosphere to facilitate them. We are working with schoolboys in Haryana to teach them how to respect the female gender,” said Paula Mariwala, founder, Stanford Angels and Entrepreneurs India.
Bhavna Pandya, innovation catalyst at Riidl, said her family was conservative, but she strived and completed her postgraduation. She said, “Boys are supported when they don’t work and use the family’s income, while a girl is forced to get married if she is not working. Girls should also be given time and space to choose their career.”
Prajakta Koli, a YouTuber and India’s first digital content creator, said a nine-year-old girl sent her a message that she was feeling suicidal because of being a victim of body shaming. Ms. Koli then wrote a song, ‘Shameless’, on the damage caused by body shaming.
Mahek Mirza Prabhu, who was booked for displaying a ‘Free Kashmir’ poster at a protest at the Gateway of India, was one of the invitees for the conclave, but the organisers said she cancelled her participation.
On Friday, around 100 innovators showcased their work, which included a drone that delivered medicines, and a robot — designed by Quanint Tech Soft Pvt. Ltd. from Hyderabad — that could cook any of the 100 dishes selected on a mobile application.
The youngest innovator, Veer Bavishi (9), a Class IV student, designed a road safety and smart car parking system. The Malad resident’s prototype, Suraksha, is designed to inform drivers if there is a bridge on the road that is lower than the vehicle’s height. Veer said, “As soon as a heavy vehicle approaches a bridge, the sensors beep and warn the driver to change the route. If an accident occurs, a notification is sent to the authority concerned.”
Vaishali Chitale (75), the oldest innovator at the event, made flowers from polythene bags. Ms. Chitale said, “Earlier, I used scrap papers to make flowers, but when I shifted to Mumbai 11 years ago, I saw polythene bags were being widely used. I then started using them to make flowers. This ensured that the plastic waste remained in the house and was not thrown out.”