About Me

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Mumbai, India
I run an IT Security consulting firm based out of India. We started off from scratch in 2001 when I was 21, and have offices in Mumbai, Bahrain, and UAE. The idea behind the blog is to share the stories of how we run the business, the deals we make, the deals that break, the heartburn, and the sheer joy.

The Ultimate Startup Guide

The Ultimate Startup Guide is an e-book that provides answers to all your questions related to starting and growing a business in India. Everything you wanted to know about entrepreneurship in India from ideation to registration to marketing to hiring. The book contains a large number of practical examples, anecdotes, interviews, and motivational material to help you get started, and to grow rapidly in a booming Indian economy. If you've got the idea, this book will help you through with the execution and realize your dreams. Here are some of the key questions you will find answered in this book:
  • When starting a business, what are the legal issues involved?
  • What form of incorporation is better suited to which type of business?
  • What tax issues are involved?
  • How do I start a business and what are the pitfalls?
  • How do I market my business in the absence of significant funding?
  • How do I get funded?
  • What are the basic accounting concepts I should be aware of?
  • What is a business plan and how should I build one?
The brief table of contents of the book is as follows:
  1. Getting started
  2. Ideation
  3. Forms of Enterprises
  4. Funding
  5. Basic Accounting and Taxation
  6. Import and Export Licensing
  7. Trademark and Patenting
  8. Rules for NRIs and Foreigners
  9. Building a Business Plan
  10. Marketing on a Shoestring
  11. Website and Branding
  12. Women Entrepreneurs
  13. Templates
To order the Ultimate Startup Guide - email me at kkmookhey@gmail.com.

Details of the book are:
Title: The Ultimate Startup Guide
Author: Kanwal Mookhey
Pages: 150
Additional: Companion CD contains numerous templates for building your business plan, calculating cashflow, preparing profit and loss, and balance sheets, preparing invoices, your resume and profile, marketing material, websites, contracts, and many other useful and motivational material.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Women entrepreneurs - success story #1

Lately a topic that has been getting a lot of my interest has been women entrepreneurs in India. You would be amazed at the dearth of material there is out there on women who run their own enterprises. This is illustrated by the fact that most of the information is about Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, the founder of Biocon. The other category of information is about women who have inherited their family run business or parts of it. What is really lacking is stories of first generation women entrepreneurs, or even those who broke out of the mould of their fathers' businesses and did something on their own.

I did come across an interesting story though. This article is an interview of Vrinda Rajgarhia, who runs a confectionary shop in Lokhandwala, Andheri. I used to stay in that area once, so I have actually seen the shop, but never checked out the sweets and candies on display. Having always seen a constant stream of people in the store, it looks like she's doing quite well indeed.

The points to note about her enterprise are:
1. Although she comes from a business family, the venture is one which has little or nothing to do with that line of business. As she says "I think that's what most Marwari women do. They just take over the family business. I think doing my own things give me a lot of satisfaction than just joining the existing family business..."
2. This is not her first business. She tried one earlier, which was a hosiery manufacturing setup. This probably indicates that her family wasn't averse to her starting another venture, just because the first one failed.
3. The idea for the confectionary store didn't just crop up. She'd been thinking about it for a while, but the tax structures prevented it from being a viable enterprise. As soon as the taxes/duties on the goods reduced, she was able to commence operations.
4. The enterprise is still not in a "traditional" business domain. In the sense, it reflects one of the issues highlighted in this ILO report on Women Entreprenurs - "Women have a proportionately greater presence in the informal economy and in microenterprises; and they are less represented in formal, registered SMEs."

While this story is a successful one, the fact of the matter is of course that in a strongly patriarchal society like India, masculine hegemonies make it extremely difficult for women to start and succeed at their own ventures. Here are some of the issues I have either read about or seen women face:

1. Lack of family support. Most entrepreneurs would tell you that a significant factor in their success has been the support of their families. And this is not usually financial support, but rather emotional support. Just the fact that they understand that the entrepreneur needs to do what she's trying to do. To not constantly question or nag her. To not make her feel guilty about "neglecting" her family/domestic responsibilities. This happens across all social strata, even with upper middle-class households where the woman's primary responsibility is still overseeing the running of her household. Even if there are maids to do most of the work, a woman is still made to feel as if that's what should be top priority for her. Fact of the matter is that entrepreneurship is one of the most fundamentally independent things a person can attempt. And any hint of independence from a woman strikes at the basis of the hegemony.

2. Lack of capital. Whereas for women from upper middle class households, finance might still be easier to obtain, for those in the lower strata, there is a strong need for loans to be available either from traditional sources such as banks or financial institutions, or from community-based funds. According to this report, women find it easier to access funds from a community-run institution, as this also helps them network and get easier access to market. The fact that most decision makers within the loan departments within traditional institutions are men, doesn't help much either.

3. Lack of confidence and faith. The sheer lack of role models undermines the confidence women have in their own abilities to successfully run independent enterprises. It is important that the role models be local and closer-to-home rather than those from socially and geographically different backgrounds. Nothing inspires more than an attitude of "Hey, she did it, so can I!". The lack of media coverage of successful first generation women entrepreneurs only makes the situation worse. This lack of confidence also results in a lesser ability to aggressively reach out to the market. The entire act of "selling" is seen as something that women simply ought to refrain from.

4. Lack of the right public/private institutions. Although, government policies do exist to make it easier for women small business owners to find funding and markets, these are most often misused by men who use it with their wives fronting through the entire process. Most of the people running these schemes are also well-aware of this potential for misuse and often take the extremely patriarchal view that loans will not be disbursed to a woman unless she is accompanied by her husband or father. Also, government policies cannot be designed at a national level, or inspired by those in existing in other countries. Policies need to be customised to be gender-, location-, and culture-sensitive.

In the ILO report I referred to above, the main findings are:

  • Women’s entrepreneurship as an untapped source of economic growth;
  • Women have a lower participation rate in entrepreneurship than men;
  • Women choose different industries than men do;
  • Such industries are perceived as being less important to economic growth and development;
  • Mainstream government policies and programmes do not take into account specific needs of women entrepreneurs
Some other good links for further reading are - "Women in business charting their own course", and "Opportunities and challenges for women in business"

Incidentally, I am planning to continue researching on this, and see what it develops into. If you have any links or information do pass it on.

12 comments:

Erimentha said...

Incidentally, Hyderabad has an Association of Women Entrepreneurs (though that might not be the right name), which is quite active - if you're going to research this, you should definitely look them up!

Intrepid said...

Thanks, Erimentha! I will surely contact them, as well as put up another blog posting with updated information about other such associations.

Trishula said...

well yea its COWE ...the organization in hyd supposedly workng towards the betterment or development of women entrepreneurs. really..i friggin wantd 2 start off on my own and needed help frm thm in gettng contacts regarding availing a loan.and yeah..i had 2 pay a useless sum of 1000 towards membership only after which can one avail the"precious contacts"that COWE has.and bloody..nthng gud came outta the 2 bloody usless contacts that they had given me. This country needs some real refreshing of minds.

pink said...

hi,

i would like to start a small dresses boutique in bangalore.i have identified a manufacturer...but,

i dont know the following:-

1.can i initially start from home?
2.how do i get the manufacturer to supply me dresses...on what baSIS?
3.what are the legal formalities?
4.what is the finacial formalities?
5.what is the procedure to start a small boutique which will be run by me??

Basically,i have no head or tail about how to start...please advice on my email...its a dream ,i want to make it a reality

Kanwal K Mookhey said...

pink: you need to identify what is going to be your niche, and specialized offering to these designers/manufacturers. I would not advice starting from home, unless you have no other options. But look for a low-cost alternative such as a boutique that might offer you limited shelf-space on a profit-sharing basis, or a cool house which can be partially commercialized...

women entrepreneurs said...

Your blog has been an excellent guide to women entrepreneurs, including myself. Keep up the good work!

Kajal said...

Hi,
I have got orders from the retailers to sell the Fashion Apparels. I showed them my Catalogue(the designs were downloaded from Internet and doesn't belong originally to me). Now the Company from which I downloaded them is charging me 700 rs per design on the min order quantity of 150 pcs per style. I want to reduce the product cost. This company is actually an exporter from India and perhaps is charging me in INR the same price as they charge to other foreign importers in USD. Shall I approach other local manufacturers to copy and manufacture the same designs to me at an economical cost without compromising on Quality.I am not a fashion designer and have no idea how to go thru the whole process of getting those designs ready. Plz guide me.

alluri said...

hi kanwal,

i v got an investment of 3laks..and want to invest in a safe option r safe project wd any1 who cd promise good returns...i want 2 know tht legalities tht should go into it as in documentation r wat legalities shd i expct frm the one wd whom i m investing my money to safegaurd my money...kindly could you help me with this...thnx
priya
hyderabad

Kanwal K Mookhey said...

Hi Alluri, contact me with your contact details, and I can provide more detailed responses to your queries.

alluri said...

hi kanwal,

Thankyou for your help..how do i contact you...could you give me contact details..

Kanwal K Mookhey said...

kkmookhey@gmail.com

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