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Women startups shine this International Women’s Day

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Image source: indiaspeaksnow.com

By Kavita Bajeli-Datt

Today is International Women’s Day and start-ups are the flavour of the season. When both combine, we get women who are impressively standing tall among a clutter of new-age growth drivers.

Filtering through the cliched slogans that resonate around International Women’s Day on March 8 are some of the shining stars who have made a noticeable impact — not through hollow words but with hard work to build businesses by thinking differently.

Some of these young women like Sanna Vohra, Aditi Awasthy, Shabnam Aggarwal and Ambika Sharma have scripted success stories in a short period of time.

Sanna Vohra was just 18 and studying at Brown University, when she was smitten by the idea of starting a business. And it was just last year, at 24, that she saw an opportunity in the online wedding industry and decided to turn her dream into a reality by launching Indear.in- a shopping portal for weddings.

For Vohra, who has grown up all over Asia — in India, Singapore and the Philippines, a chance chat with her friend led to the birth of her dream.

“I was working at Morgan Stanley in New York and was in Mumbai for a week in January 2014, when a good friend was planning her sister’s wedding. To give me a sense of the location, her outfits, decor ideas, and the invitations, my friend had to go through multiple email threads, WhatsApp groups, and a word document with pictures pasted onto it,” Vohra told this correspondent.

“I went back to my job but continued doing research, and realized that no comprehensive tool existed. A few months later when I was 23, I moved to India and Indear was born: an end-to-end inspiration, planning, and shopping portal for Indian weddings,” said Vohra, who is one of the youngest women founders and CEOs in the Indian start up ecosystem.

A recent report by the Centre of Entrepreneurship (CE) threw up interesting aspects about women entrepreneurs. The report concluded that women are better in taking calculated risks, less prone to being over-confident, seek consensus of views and show sensitivity to needs of clients.

If Vohra started alone, so did Aditi Awasthy, founder and CEO of Embibe. Aditi’s business is all about helping students prepare for competitive examinations. The competitive world has climbed up the toughness ladder because of the sheer size of population jostling for better career options.

She eases the process a bit, said Awasthy, who founded Embibe when she was 30 years old. Awasthy, now 34, feels that it is a wrong question to ask whether women could be good entrepreneurs.

“There are successful entrepreneurs and failed entrepreneurs who may become successful later. Some of them happen to be women,” she said. “I think at times women disadvantage themselves by perceiving life a bit too much through a gender bias during the early years,” said Awasthy, an MBA from the University of Chicago.

“I don’t have children yet so I can’t say what impact that would have for me personally but I have seen situations where women have been treated unfairly specially in corporate settings. Things are changing though,” she said.

Shabnam Aggarwal, founder CEO of Kleverkid.in, also feels that the mindset about women entrepreneurs is changing, albeit slowly.

The 30-year-old, who holds a Bachelors degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, launched her venture in 2014 as she was passionate about children and their education.

“It was really difficult initially. I had to go through a lot of rejection and when you hear ‘no’ from everywhere, trust me it can be emotionally exhausting as well as tiring. The Indian startup space is getting hotter but many ventures are also failing to survive,” she said.

Ambika Sharma, 37, founded Pulp Strategy Communications, an award-winning agency, with an aim to provide marketing technological solutions to the industry giants.

Her venture is barely five years old but has already been recognised as India’s youngest and most awarded agency with an impressive list of clients like Google, Yahoo India, Nokia, Philips and Renault.

“Being a startup is more about mental strength and confidence than about anything else. For me, the process of raising the bar has just begun,” Sharma said.

When not dealing with complex market issues, Ambika unwinds with her passion for bikes. Her stable has a Suzuki GSX-R1000 and a Harley Davidson Road King.

“Challenges have been and will continue to be in the path just as the fact that they shall be overcome,” said this serial entrepreneur, who has an experience of more than 17 years and feels that technology has made it easy for a person to be a “perfect multi-tasker”. (IANS)

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Assam Government signs a MoU with Google India to expand Internet Connectivity

It will provide Internet connections to 26,000 villages and 1,500 tea garden areas in Assam

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Assam Government has signed MoU with Google India to expand Internet Connectivity
Assam Government has signed MoU with Google India to expand Internet Connectivity. Pixabay

Guwahati, Assam, September 8, 2017: The Assam government on Thursday signed a MoU with Google India to take Internet connectivity to the remotest part of the north-eastern state.

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said the government would work to provide Internet connections to 26,000 villages and 1,500 tea garden areas in Assam under the MoU and thus increase digital literacy.

Information Technology Secretary Nitin Khare and Google India Country Head (Policy) Chetan Krishnaswami signed the Memorandum of Understanding in the presence of Sonowal.

“Technology rules the roost in the 21st century and the state government has upped the ante to use technology to carry forward the fruits of development to the remotest parts of Assam,” the Chief Minister said.

He said the ties with Google was a way forward to strongly pitch Guwahati as a natural gateway to the South-East Asian countries.

Sonowal said his government in sync with the Centre was working for the success of Startup initiative but the success of such programmes sans technology would be a distant dream.

“The MoU will be used as a launchpad to achieve the state government’s vision of women empowerment, skill development, and universal education,” he said.

The Chief Minister asked the Information Technology Department to take steps to make technology acceptable and favourable among the rural populace so as to catalyse rural development. (IANS)

 

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Gender Equality Charter Soon to be Launched in India

ECU and Indian National Science Academy collaborate to reduce the gender gap

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Gender Equality. Pixabay.

New Delhi, July 24, 2017: Women in STEMM India workshop which was held last year in November, was organized by the UK, Australian and Indian government highlighted the importance of promoting women in the field of science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) academic and professional endeavors.

It was observed in the workshop’s Summary Report that there is a very limited data available on the number of women working in STEMM in India. They also cited many reasons as to why there are so few of them working in these areas; a lack of role model in the family often acts as a demoralizing factor. When they do take part in the education programs in these fields, they are predominantly softer subjects or more suitable for women. While the so-called ‘hard’ science like- physics, observes a lack of participation from women.

Often the intensive coaching programs, which helps invigilate student’s preparations for qualifying admissions in these courses see a lack of participation from women, or are often made unavailable to them. If somehow they manage to enter employment in STEMM field their opportunities decline as they climb up the professional ladder, limiting their roles and responsibilities.

It was also observed in a keynote speech, that not only to women fall behind in numbers in STEMM but they’re equally invisible in other fields – be it for the lack of support system or be it the cultural boundaries. Many women after marriage end up being stay-at-home wives while the man of the house is ‘manned’ up for these jobs.

The report’s first recommendation was to create a proposal to extend the Athena SWAN charter framework in India to the Indian National Science Academy. Athena SWAN Charter was laid out by ECU which is headed in the UK.

The UK based Equality Challenge Unit laid out a proposal co-authored by Indian National Science Academy to bring their Athena SWAN charter in India; the charter was established in 2005 to promote women in higher education, research, and employment in STEMM. It was later extended to arts, humanities, social science, business and law (AHSSBL), and in professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students. Universities are promoted to encourage a progress on equality and diversity, and the Athena SWAN charter recognizes their commitment to bringing this change by awarding them upon monitoring their progress and contribution.

Women in STEMM workshop was attended by ECU’s Athena SWAN manager, Dr Ruth Gillian, who said: ‘At the heart of ECU’s Athena SWAN charter is the advancement of gender equality for all, therefore I am pleased to see a commitment to promote and increase the participation and progression of women in STEMM careers by proposing the introduction of an Athena SWAN framework in India.’

‘ECU looks forward to partnering with the Indian Science Academies’ inter-academy panel to develop this proposal’, she added.

The report was concluded on the note that uniform data sources in STEMM and gender equality be identified in India, Australia, and the UK so that the issue can be reported systematically.

-Prepared by Nivedita Motwani of NewsGram. Twitter @Mind_Makeup


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Behind NYC’s ‘Fearless Girl’ Statue Are 2 Corporate Giants

The aim of the Fearless Girl was to build what ad experts call a "brand experience" of a product or message, using some kind of creative, unique vehicle

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People stop to photograph the "Fearless Girl" statue, Wednesday, March 8, 2017, in New York. The statue was installed by investment firm State Street Global Advisors. An inscription at the base reads, “Know the power of women in leadership. She makes a difference.” (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

A bronze of a little girl defiantly facing Wall Street’s Charging Bull didn’t appear suddenly or spontaneously in the middle of the night in Manhattan’s financial district.

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It took months of intricate planning by two corporate giants to install “Fearless Girl” under the veil of darkness in time for Wednesday’s International Women’s Day. Within hours, she became the talk of the town and the world, a sculpted celebrity drawing crowds as a symbol of a woman’s right to move into power positions.

Behind the scenes, State Street Global Advisors, a $2.5 trillion asset managing firm, created the Fearless Girl project with McCann New York, one of the world’s top ad agencies whose client is State Street. The financial giant wanted to spread a serious message: that more women should be appointed to the boards of the Russell 3000, a broad index of U.S. companies.

FILE - A statue titled Fearless Girl faces the Wall Street bull in New York, March 7, 2017.

FILE – A statue titled Fearless Girl faces the Wall Street bull in New York, March 7, 2017.

Only 16 percent of board seats in Russell 3000 companies are held by women, according to ISS Analytics, a business research firm. Also on State Street’s radar are about 500 other firms in Great Britain and Australia.

The aim of the Fearless Girl was to build what ad experts call a “brand experience” of a product or message, using some kind of creative, unique vehicle — in this case, a sculpture, created by artist Kristen Visbal.

“This thing went viral, and it spread globally, all over,” McCann spokesman Jeremy Miller said. “I’m watching my Twitter feed and it’s still a constant flow, filled with images of the Fearless Girl.”

“In my 20 years in advertising, I personally have not seen anything like this,” he added.

On Thursday, streams of gleeful fans posed for pictures with the 250-pound Fearless Girl statue as she stared down the 7,000-pound Charging Bull.

McCann obtained a one-week permit from the city before starting the installation in Bowling Green Park at 4 a.m. Tuesday, completing it as the sun rose on another New York business day.

The ad agency wasn’t trying to be secretive.

“We just didn’t want to disrupt business in the area,” Miller said.

And they wanted to mirror the 1989 arrival of the girl’s bronze counterpart.

The Charging Bull was dropped into place in the middle of a Manhattan night by artist Arturo Di Modica and his team, who had no permit. The powerful piece was a symbol of Americans’ can-do energy following the 1987 stock market crash, and it proved so popular that the city allowed the bull to stay.

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At the end of International Women’s Day on Wednesday, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted that Fearless Girl could remain in Lower Manhattan through April 2. Popular support for the piece to be kept permanently is growing, with petitions being signed.

“Our future rests in the hands of fearless girls,” the Democratic mayor tweeted. (VOA)