This article is part of our series ‘Women for Women’ where we feature women-led social enterprises that offer a support structure and platform for women to express themselves, network, and launch their careers
Though Shweta Saxena is a certified clinical psychologist, she was always drawn to the cause of women empowerment more than clinical psychology. While running the Notts Mums non-profit support group for lonely multicultural mums in UK till 2017, she realised that there were many women burdened by suppression, carrying their stories silently inside them.
“I decided to initiate a platform where women could share their powerful stories fearlessly and with pride,” says Shweta, who launched Woman TV in 2018 after moving to Pune.
Shweta uses the non-profit, web-based platform to interview inspiring women, and has featured over a thousand women so far. After noticing that many of these women had the potential to be entrepreneurs but lacked that little push, information, support and motivation by their tribe, she further launched Women Entrepreneurs Helpline (WEH), a Facebook group to support new entrepreneurs in various areas like market research for their branding, financial planning, awareness about government schemes for MSMEs and female entrepreneurs.
Interestingly, not all the 12,000 followers who follow her channel are entrepreneurs – salaried workers and homemakers follow the group too for tips and as a networking platform.
“Women entrepreneurs in India face specific challenges, such as lack of financial independence despite running profitable businesses,” says Shweta. “In many cases, the finances are still controlled by the woman’s husband even if he may not be involved in her business.”
There are social obstacles too, says Shweta. “While a woman is struggling to adapt to her role of an entrepreneur, her family makes it even more difficult for her by constantly reminding her of her other roles in the family. Lack of sufficient family support before or after marriage hampers her business journey and delays her success too.”
But Shweta believes women have learnt to live with these challenges, and rebuild their lives around them. She hopes that, as more women step up to work, society will gradually give credit where it’s due, regardless of gender.
“Also, we need to give the woman sufficient space and not suffocate her with over-interference or unwanted advice! No relationship gives anyone the authority to rule over a woman or monitor her every move,” she says.
Though the Indian government offers several schemes and training opportunities for women entrepreneurs, not many are aware of them. “This is where WEH plays a business-buddy role,” says Shweta.
WEH also works as a platform for women to support each other. “Women can promote other women’s businesses on their social media, buying their products without asking for any discounts or freebies, and even by mentoring new entrepreneurs through their own experiences.”
Shweta shares the story of a home-based artist who was unsure of selling her works. “We video-interviewed her and showcased her art. Her interview became popular and people loved her work. This boosted her confidence and she created social-media pages to retail her work. She now successfully runs an art brand and has employed junior women artists too.”
First published in eShe’s July 2020 issue
Syndicated to Money Control