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Breaking Barriers: Women don the entreprenuer's cap (March 8 is International Women's Day)

Shweta Sharma

New Delhi, March 7 (IANS) Shravani Hagargi's parents gave her three options - continue with her studies, get married or do a regular 9-5 job. But her urge to do something for the uplifting her fellow women was stronger than her parents' command.

"Obviously all parents care about their children. They gave me three options, but something different was running on my mind. I wanted to help women realise their potential skills, and make them socially and economically independent," 28-year-old Hagargi told IANS.

This impulse led Hagargi in 2009 to start Safe Hands, which employs both men and women and provides security and housekeeping services across


Like Hagargi, many women are breaking through the glass ceiling in business and entrepreneurship and creating a mark for themselves in a "male dominated" territory.

"In a male-centric society, especially in male dominated professions, it isn't easy to build your enterprise. People will underestimate the woman

and think that she will quit very soon. This is what gives the positive energy and motivation to continue," Hagargi noted.

Agreed Veena Soni, founder of LaceandMe, a website offering swimwear and accessories.

"It is not at all easy. I had to put in double the effort to prove that entering the e-commerce business was the right decision. People didn't take me seriously, right from the product sourcing market to the people handling logistics," she lamented.

Soni added that it was difficult for her to convince her own family and relatives as "nobody understood the e-commerce business concept back in 2000".

"I have been bombarded with sarcastic questions to insulting answers regarding my business proposition. Just because I chose a path where no

woman thought of venturing into a decade back, and promised success, I was met with such jibes and strange reactions," Soni told IANS.

Even for Monica Gupta, co-founder of, an online store for

sarees and jewellery, the journey was not an easy one. But having a supportive husband helped.

"The elders in the family were a bit hesitant but they fully supported me when they saw the ground work and reality of my dream. My husband and kids have always been my pillars of support," she said.

Speaking at the launch of the 25th edition of the Limca Book of Records here Thursday, Captain Indrani Singh, the first women in Asia to fly an Airbus A-300 wide-bodied passenger jet, urged more women to step out and fearlessly pursue their dreams.

"Women are now breaking out of traditional roles and adopting new career choices. I believe that the glass ceiling is now truly broken and I urge

more women to go out there and fulfill their dreams relentlessly and fearlessly," she said.

However, societal constraints which define women's role in society force people like Upasana Makati to think out of the box. She launched White Print, India's first English lifestyle magazine in braille last year.

"Yes, entrepreneurship in the past has primarily been associated with males. Having said that, I do believe that it is all about the environment you

live and grow up in. My elder sister and I were never given the upbringing of being weaker than men," Makati said.

"I've always believed that women can be great entrepreneurs. The ability to multi-task and stay determined to fulfil their dreams is one of the biggest reasons contributing to the success of any venture. The energy in the current ecosystem is contagious and encouraging for entrepreneurs across

fields," she added.

Commenting on the growing trend of entrepreneurs in India and elsewhere, Veena Kashyap, a franchisee of NumberNagar, a hands-on Mathematics activity centre that makes learning fun.

"Many factors influence this growth. First and foremost is education. Women now are highly educated and have gained experience working in

different fields of life. With their exposure to a multi-cultural society, they are capable of facing the challenges and are ready to take social and

corporate responsibilities," Kashyap told IANS.

"They have earned a respectful position in the society and have become more confident to outshine as entrepreneurs," she added.

Any stumbling blocks in the way of women entrepreuners?

"There are a lot of challenges a woman faces in her entrepreneurial journey. For me, juggling the various roles of daughter, wife, mother and professional and prioritizing each role without hampering the other was quite a challenge," said Ratna Chadha, chief executive, Tirun Travel Marketing.

"Eventually I overcame this by compartmentalizing each role so they don't tread on each other," she added.

(Shewta Sharma can be contacted at