How T-Hub’s “The Womenpreneur” event brought together influential entrepreneurs and changemakers on International Women’s Day

The International Women’s Day at T-Hub was a memorable affair with several stimulating discussions on various issues, including the challenges faced by women in entrepreneurship. Influential women who have been bringing positive change in the society through their initiatives participated in the event.

With the theme of “The Womenpreneur,” the event drew attention to various aspects of women’s journey as entrepreneurs, changemakers and key stakeholders and focused on the spirit of “innovate, inspire and ignite.” In an earlier blog, we gave you an overview of the event. Let’s have a more detailed look at what the speakers said.

It began with the keynote speaker, Dr S Glory Swarupa, Director General, National Institute of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (NIMSME) who started with a tribute to all the women who lost their lives fighting the pandemic. Dr Swarupa drew attention to the existing gender gap and legal barriers that prevent women from getting equal economic rights and opportunities as men. She also highlighted how women entrepreneurs face gender bias in getting access to finance in the Indian MSME sector.  She spoke about the need for mentoring, incubation and infrastructure to empower women entrepreneurs, concluding with her keenness to collaborate with T-Hub.

Panelist Anu Acharya, CEO, Mapmygenome then spoke about gender parity and its impact on women entrepreneurs. She began by spotlighting some critical numbers, citing a drop of 10 per cent among women in the workforce in the last two years. She drew light on issues like the social conditioning and funding. She focused on the importance of creating the right kind of network for women that will help them build upon their strengths.

She also stressed the importance of identifying the challenges women need to overcome in becoming better entrepreneurs. She emphasised the importance of education and mentorship. She quoted Marie Curie, “It is time to understand so that we may fear less.” She also gave gave us a glimpse of the possibility of designer babies, genome editing, the use of Big Data and health tracking and ground-breaking use cases enabled by the advancement in human genomics.

Anu Acharya’s powerful address was followed by Cerasela Tanasescu, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, La Trobe UniversityMs Tanasescu, while acknowledging the barriers in investment for women-led enterprises, highlighted a positive trend in Europe and the US, where many investors now prefer to invest in women-led startups since women tend to be better with financial management. She emphasised the role of women-focused networks and mentorship for women entrepreneurs. She also said women entrepreneurs need to  trust in themselves.

Dr Shanta Thoutam Chief innovation officer (CIO), Telangana State Innovation Cell (TSIC) concluded the session with her closing remarks effectively stressing on the importance of positive self-belief and overcoming the internal barriers women tend to create for themselves.

It was followed by a fireside chat on ‘Women Trailblazing Entrepreneurship.’ The star-studded panel had influential industry leaders, including Tanuja Abburi, founder, Beyond PinksKritika Narula, Lead, Regulatory Affairs and Public Policy, Startup India, Government of India; Rashida Adenwala, Co-founder & Partner, R & A AssociatesJugnu Jain, CEO, Sapien BiosciencesSreedevi Devireddy, VP – Startup Ecosystem, XELP; and Sabina Kamal, founder & COO Paytm m’Loyal (Mobiquest). Moderator Deepthi R, CEO, We Hub, began the discussion with the question “When will the conversation end on women entrepreneurs and begin on entrepreneurs?”

Panelists highlighted the changing entrepreneurial landscape in India where women are taking more leadership roles, indicating the prospects for a better future. Tanuja Abburi stressed on breaking the gender bias by overcoming one’s own internalised biases. Jugnu Jain specifically stressed on the importance of normalising or accepting women in leadership roles and having greater inclusion of women in industry. 

Sreedevi Devireddy brought the focus on the need for role models and the celebration of special days like Women’s Day to help women who are not as privileged. Sabina Kamal stressed on the need to identify one’s strengths and competencies. She also highlighted the importance of building meaningful relationships and collaborations. 

Jugnu Jain focused on the importance of having good funding, building a great team, having proper processes in place, communicating in the right manner and having the right company structure. The panel discussion drew to an end with an interesting Q&A session for the audience, which had some great questions and answers. 

The fireside chat was followed by a session where entrepreneurs shared their success journeys. Priya Ananth, co-founder, Life Circle, put the spotlight the problem of unemployment and the discouraged young female labour force. She spoke about unemployment and geriatric healthcare issues, which her startup has been working on.

Kalpana Ramesh, founder, Rainwater Harvest Project, shared her journey of building a social enterprise that focuses on water conservation and well restoration. She focused on the importance of documenting one’s journey so the success can be replicated.  

These sessions were followed by the launch of the book ‘Accelerating Her Business’ by Poornima Shenoy and Supriya Panchangam. Post the book launch, T-Hub felicitated 50 inspiring women for their contribution to the Indian startup ecosystem.

The event also highlighted the introduction of Startup India Awards 2022 by Startup India (an initiative by Government of India) to encourage and celebrate innovations across 17 sectors, 50 sub-sectors and seven special categories.

The event that began with over 20 eminent speakers and 250 attendees concluded powerfully. Emphasis was laid on the role of ecosystem enablers in helping women entrepreneurs overcome various challenges in their entrepreneurial journey. 

You can watch the recording of complete event here: