The Channel 46
I have been binge-watching Shark Tank, and it’s heartwarming to see the spirit of entrepreneurship become a mainstream one – where startups, equity and fundraising are dinner-table conversations. What pleasantly surprised me was the variety of female entrepreneurship scenarios I saw on the show – a bhabhi and nanad starting a pickle venture in Darbhanga, a saas and bahu from Indore trying to revolutionise the packaging industry, sisters building a male hygiene brand together. Shattering glass ceilings, but also shattering stereotypes. This brings me to the conclusion that entrepreneurship is universal. And female entrepreneurship is even more universal.
A prime example that comes to mind is the cooperative company structures Lijjat Papad and AMUL built. Allowing women to a taste of financial independence through employing household skills that they had anyway learned by default. A win-win situation for these commercial ventures and for the women. Many of these business models even went on to become case studies at B-schools, because they were pathbreaking attempts at employing latent talent in women that had otherwise been traditionally ignored. And, in the process, allowing women, who had mostly been financially dependent on menfolk, to earn their own livelihood.
Or, another regular character in my growing up days, the women I called the Tupperware and Avon aunties. The ones who usually were female acquaintances of my mother through her personal network of friends, family and kitty party members. Ones who would come home with glossy catalogues of kitchenware items and cosmetics, trying to make use of salesmanship training they had acquired through becoming representatives of these companies, almost always convincing my mother that the products advertised in the catalogues were far better than their retail counterparts.
And then every neighbourhood most likely had a achaar and tiffin aunty. The ones who ran tiny ventures out from home. Making pickles and lunches for those who didn’t have the time to make their own. And becoming indispensable in most cases. Each one of these women is an entrepreneur. Irrespective of the size of the venture they ran. And the trend hasn’t stopped, for even today, there are several women who run successful small-scale businesses, from within their homes. And we’d all probably agree that they are as important as are the women who build unicorns. For they contribute in many ways, to our social economy.
The Channel 46