According to a report prepared by Google and Bain and Company, only 20 percent of all enterprises in the country are run by women. In the last decade, the number stood at 14%, it is an improvement, but we can do more. If we want to see a huge change in the economic and social fabric of our country, then we need more women entrepreneurs.
In fact, 79% of women-run businesses in India are self-funded, which means they are small in size and scale. The contribution of Indian women to the GDP is 17%, which is far below the global average of 37%. Needless to say, lack of women’s participation in the workforce has stifled India’s growth. Despite these factors, a few women have broken the glass ceiling to become successful entrepreneurs.
We take a look at the solo-woman entrepreneurs who raised the largest amount of funding in the country, thereby breaking stereotypes and inspiring more women to come forward.
Spandana Sphoorty was founded in 1998 by Padmaja, who was born to a family of farmers in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh. The 14,000 strong team at Spandana focuses on helping women from low-income families, and is a leader in the microfinance industry today. The firm has raised more than $414.5 million since its inception.
After spending 20 years as an investment banker, Falguni created one of India’s biggest fashion and lifestyle portals- Nykaa. The $750 million empire was inspired by Amazon, and revolutionized the beauty industry through effective use of technology. Nykaa has raised more than $145 million so far from 13 investors.
Bengaluru-based Kinara Capital provides debt capital loans to MSMEs in the range of Rs 2 lakhs to 25 lakhs, without collaterals to small businesses. Before founding Kinara Capital in 2011, Hardika Shah was a management consultant with Accenture for more than two decades. She has raised around $50 million for Kinara Capital till date.
Universal Sportsbiz is an online clothing store started by Anjana Reddy in 2012. She has raised more than $33 million so far. The company has forged partnerships with many sports and movie personalities to co-create brands. One of their collaborations is Virat Kohli’s Wrogn brand.
An IIM-A graduate, Rashmi had worked with TutorVista, Ola, BlueStone, and bootstrapped Afday before launching FreshMenu in 2014. Rashmi has raised more than $25 million for FreshMenu from investors including Lightspeed Venture Partners, Zodius Capital, Growth Story, and Innoven Capital. Freshmenu employs more than 1,500 people across Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, and Gurugram.
iMerit is an AI-based data labelling startup founded in 2012 by Radha Basu. Radha is credited to have set up HP’s operations in India which is said to be the first software center of any multinational in Bangalore. iMerit has raised more than $23 million from investors including Khosla Impact, Omidyar Network, Michael and Susan Dell foundation.
Founded in 1993 by Lina Ashar, Kangaroo Kids is among India’s biggest kindergarten and K12 school chains today. They have grown to 80 CBSE, ICSE, IGCSE schools across 17 cities in the country along with presence in Dubai and Maldives. Kangaroo Kids raised more than $20 million from Gaja Capita in 2017.
(Edited by Athira Nair)