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Over the past few years, we have seen many women entrepreneurs in Chennai invading new domains and forging their own empires. Be it healthcare, retail, logistics or brand building, women entrepreneurs are making their mark in every field.
In fact, Tamil Nadu leads the trend with maximum number of women entrepreneurs in the country.
The journeys of these women entrepreneurs in Chennai are equally fascinating. Here are the success stories of 5 women entrepreneurs in Chennai, which I found truly inspiring and compelling:
From living in a rented place in a slum in Chennai to building a company with a turnover of Rs 22 crore, four verticals, and 4,000 employees, G.Sree Vidhya, the chairperson and managing director of Ravindra Services Pvt. Ltd (RSPL), is one of the first women entrepreneurs in Chennai and all over India, providing security services to corporate houses. Divorced at a young age and a single parent to her daughter, she went through a slew of jobs, and managed to pursue an MBA from Indira Gandhi National University (IGNOU), before venturing into the security and guarding services.
It all started when Sree’s business associate, mentor and friend, Ravindra Padmanabhan, offered her a job at his start-up company Oncole Cleaning, which offered cleaning services for domestic segments. With her vision and insight, Sree upgraded it to housekeeping for corporates and later made a leap into security services. After her mentor passed away in 2001, she bought the company in 2003 naming it after her him as Ravindra Services Pvt. Ltd.
Essentially seen as a male bastion; Sree found it hard getting accepted as a woman who ran security and guarding services. In fact, she would go on night rounds, armed with just pepper spray, to check if the guards were at the post. Now, her company has 15 percent of the workforce as women and renowned clients such as L&T group to her credit. Further, her business has expanded into facility management (housekeeping, plumbing, electrical); security division, temporary staffing, and a trading division for supplying cleaning chemicals and machines.
A woman entrepreneur in Chennai, Madhu Saran, became a collective voice of women entrepreneurs in India, after being chosen as the Women Entrepreneurship Day Global Ambassador of India at the United Nations Headquarters in 2016. She owns STC Technologies, a software testing firm and ABC Clinic, a chain of cosmetic clinics with centres in and around Chennai. She also runs an NGO, River, which aims at empowering women and has fuelled many entrepreneurial ventures in the city to support women entrepreneurs.
One such venture is Mami’s House of Coffee on wheels (MHC) that endeavours to empower women from all walks of life with an alternative means of livelihood and provide the coffee lovers freshly brewed coffee.
Once a software engineer, Archana Stalin, through her social enterprise myHarvest is encouraging people to grow their own pesticide-free food at their roof-tops and terraces. MyHarvest offers customized packages to customers that are inclusive of soil, seeds, fertilisers, and other necessary equipment. Depending on the package chosen, their team visits the customer’s house once or twice, to understand their requirements and provide them a list of plants they can choose to grow. They also guide them on how to use the tools and manage their garden besides providing an online and offline support for their queries. Through MyHarvest, Archana is also organising gardening workshops in schools to make children realise the importance of nature. Her initiative called, ‘Reconnect with Nature’ has been implemented in 4-5 schools in Chennai.
Chennai based marketing professionals, Vandhana and Jinal had started working out of coffee shops, when they launched their digital marketing agency. Later, they realised the need for an office which meant a spending a lot of time and resources on administrative work, distracting them from focussing solely on their business. Through this personal experience, the duo came up with the solution and launched Wsquare, a women-only co-working space in Chennai that helps entrepreneurs and professionals focus on their work without having to worry too much about office-related or domestic chores.
The co-working space is designed for women from all walks of life, with special focus on pregnant woman and new mothers, who are unable to work from home or want to network. The duo felt that a lot of woman quit jobs during maternity or post baby. Through Wsquare, they want to help woman get back to work, network and build their careers. Their incubation initiative now also helps women entrepreneurs in Chennai access mentoring and potential funding.
I hope this spirit of women entrepreneurship keeps growing and inspiring multitudes in Chennai – and across the globe!
An engineer by profession but a writer at heart, I try to seek happiness through
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