Priyanka Chaturvedi

It's all about me!!My people, my favourite things, my raving and my ranting too!

Posts Tagged ‘India

My Yuva Desh column: Indian Businesswomen are making the world sit up and take notice

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In a recent study conducted on women entrepreneurs across USA, UK and India, to the surprise of many people, India came out tops as the most suited destination for women to start business in 2012.

The study (conducted by PC makers Dell) surveyed around 450 women entrepreneurs and came out with interesting perspectives on entrepreneurship for women across the globe but more importantly in India.

The study found women entrepreneurs in India expect 90 per cent growth in their business over period of five years compared to 24 per cent and 50 per cent growth in business expected by entrepreneurs in the UK and the US respectively. Not just that but also the women entrepreneurs surveyed in India  71% of them said their business is very successful and 8 out of 10 said that they were hiring for their company.

Women entrepreneurship is an important source of economic growth. Women have in many scenarios helped bring in a different perspective to managing and running an organization. However, women still represent a minority of all entrepreneurs in the country.

Khushboo Mehta, Principal Designer of Cuscino Lifestyle, an interior décor company,  the company five years ago because it  gave her a chance to “keep my personal & business growth constant, which means constantly rising.”

She also goes on to add “India has finally warmed up to women empowerment, the way society looks at women also has changed drastically, so the environment in the country is extremely supportive.” Her company over the years has seen growth in double digits.

Madhumita Goswami, who started her own unique retail store, Loose Ends, selling funky knick-knacks for homes and offices, feels it is a huge challenge managing a retail store considering the high rentals and various licenses involved to keep the store running.

Another woman entrepreneur I spoke to, Kranti Kothari, is the proprietor of Sweet Moments, a chocolate manufacturing company she started from home. Kranti Kothari is doing so well that she is soon going to start her own retail store. All this has been achieved in less than three years. The company now not only offers chocolates but cakes and other products, what started out as a small venture catering to only corporate clients will now also cater to retail clients through her store. She says that though there have been a few impediments in running her business till now, it has been an interesting growth journey.

The successes of these women entrepreneurs, notwithstanding, fact is a lot of them have to deal with gender-based barriers when they start out in what is a predominantly male bastion.

Lot of them suffer from lack of access to formal finance mechanisms, it is harder for a woman who is starting out on her own, often without any family support, to raise funds for her business venture. becomes difficult -dominated set up. The fact that inheritance laws are discriminatory against women doesn’t help matters either, often there is limited access to information.

Despite these not inconsiderable hurdles, the amazing success rate of business ventures started by Indian women entrepreneurs has encouraged many institutions specializing in business studies to offer specific Women Entrepreneurship courses to help women manage their businesses professionally. Such courses are also designed to ensure that women are armed with a business plan and ideas to diversify in order to keep their businesses growing. They also equip the women to take charge of their business in entirety by giving an overview of how a business is run, how funds can be obtained.

Women across geographies found funding their businesses the most difficult task as per the survey. The central government on its part has introduced many policies that work as a catalyst to have more women participating in the economy through entrepreneurship.

In addition to the special schemes for women entrepreneurs, various government schemes for MSMEs also provide certain special incentives and concessions for women entrepreneurs. For instance, under Prime Minister’s Rozgar Yojana (PMRY), preference is given to women beneficiaries. The government has also made several relaxations for women to facilitate the participation of women beneficiaries in this scheme.

So if you are an Indian woman reading this and believe that you have an idea worth exploring, why not sit down and prepare a business plan for the same?  You never know you might be a business tycoon in the making. Remember one thing: nothing ventured, nothing gained!

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Written by Priyanka Chaturvedi

July 16, 2012 at 9:42 am

CSR- A brand building exercise for companies in India?

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Corporate Social Responsibility activities in India are not a relatively new phenomenon; the likes of Tatas, Birlas, Godrejs have been involved in various activities pertaining to social issues.  But yet there are only handful corporate houses in India who take Corporate Social Responsibility seriously and it is an idea which has still not grown into its own in this country.  Moreover lots of these companies look at CSR as a corporate exercise for profit maximisation or building brand equity.

There is no clear defined policy by the government on any CSR activities to be taken up by the private sector, though it is encouraged, it is not mandatory for any company to participate in CSR related activities. The Companies Bill 2011 proposes a minimum 2% allocation of net profit average in the immediate 3 preceding years for companies that have a net profit of 5 crores and more, again not mandatory. The government though has a set of guidelines for PSUs to mandatorily create a CSR budget; however loss making companies are exempted.

A recent piece in this week’s edition of Open Magazine http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/arts-letters/how-my-conscience-was-abducted-in-dantewada , talks about how a company’s CSR activity turned out to be nothing but a corporate propaganda. The company in question is Essar Group. Essar is the largest private sector investor in Bastar region and has been operating there since the last 10 years. It operates a beneficiation plant and a 267-km-long slurry pipeline from Bailadila to Vizag. The company had signed a memorandum of understanding with the government in June 2005 to bring in Rs.70 billion investment in revolt-hit Dantewada.  It definitely hasn’t been an easy ride for the company to do business in that area. So it is obvious that the company in order to maintain long term healthy relations and build a trust factor with the residents would want to invest heavily in people relations. What better way than the CSR route? The company’s official site gives reader a glimpse into the various CSR activities the company has taken up for the tribal people residing in this region.

But then in this particular initiative, which the author calls nothing less than a sham  will show you just how a well intentioned effort can go awry if you do not have a planned, well thought out idea in place. The article goes on to say thus about the event & gives the reader an idea just how disconnected the organizers were from the on ground realities.

The scorching sun was no deterrent for the hundreds of children gathered together for the first-ever Essar Kahani Utsav, organised from 17 to 19 April in Dantewada (a district in Chhattisgarh where the media and government celebrate their own attempts at storytelling). They were used to the heat and this was their day out—a fantastic picnic party that the rich sponsors had thrown for them. Set aside the fact that the children had never been on a bus before and many were throwing up or fainting, this was a rare moment in history. They were going to be part of a celebration, a novel idea for cultural upliftment, a feather in the cap of the district administration and of the Essar Group, which claims to provide the children with ‘a better future’.

The kids going without food, in the heat waiting for an event to begin, the event doesn’t take off as it awaits the collector who is invited as a special guest. The entire extravaganza for the kids is handled by an event management team and this is not just any other team but the one that organizes the Jaipur Literature Festival every year.

No expense spared but also no thought spared as to what the people there would have really wanted.

While discussing this on twitter today this is the interesting exchange of ideas that came up to understand how social initiatives can work best http://storify.com/priyankac19/how-an-essar-csr-initiative-went-awry

An earnest CSR initiative is usually a long term, well planned initiative, usually in conjunction with an NGO which is already doing ground work in the area. In this case it was clearly an ill planned, inefficiently handle initiative which came out looking like a PR exercise for the company. A controversy, which the company could have clearly done without.

This fiasco should also be a lesson for many such companies who wish to actively participate in causes but then instead of getting involved headlong into it usually hand it over to a third party to manage.

Written by Priyanka Chaturvedi

May 22, 2012 at 1:57 pm

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