This blog was written by Sudhir Chowdhary and was originally posted on The Financial Express in June 2023.
IT IS SAID that no society can progress without the active participation of women in all spheres of life. While the number of women employed in the IT industry in India has seen a rapid increase in recent years, there is a biting absence of the fairer sex in the country’s startup scene. “Industry estimates by Zinnov-Nasscom point to 25,000-27,000 tech startups having been set up across India in the last decade alone. As this momentum continues to pick up pace, it is essential that women — who currently make up less than 18% of the country’s startup leaders and founders — have an equitable opportunity to leverage digital to achieve their ambitions, and contribute to India’s aspirations of a truly digitally empowered economy,” said Paul Ravindranath, program manager, Google for Startups Accelerator India.
The Google For Startups Accelerator — India Women Founders is looking to make that happen. It is a three-month programme designed to enable women entrepreneurs who are using technology to solve complex problems and are making a positive impact on society. The programme includes mentorship, workshops, access to resources and networks for startups from across sectors, including but not limited to healthcare, education, finance, and e-commerce. Recently, the first cohort of the Accelerator successfully concluded, with 20 women startup leaders.
FE spoke to some of these on how the programme has been a game-changer in their entrepreneurial journeys.
Brown Living Founder & CEO: Chaitsi Ahuja
* What’s the startup about: A marketplace for sustainable and plastic-free products across fashion, home decor, lifestyle, food, kitchen essentials and other categories. “We are the only platform that provides 100% biodegradable and plastic-free packaging. Our team curated a variety of everyday-use products that are earth-friendly, for our eco-conscious consumers, with a single goal to leave this Earth better than we found it,” says Ahuja.
* Achievements so far: Currently, Brown Living has over 65,000 earth-friendly and sustainable products from over 400 sellers across the country. The platform is not category-specific and caters to over 200 categories from travel to home & living, fashion, personal care, pet care, and much more. “We follow a proprietary framework that we call ‘The Brown Lens’ as the basis of the product selection and curation process. Through our consciously curated lists of highly-vetted makers and their products, we aim to build a community that then promotes a waste-free and plastic-free lifestyle to their peers and social circles,” Ahuja says.
Recounting her experience with the Accelerator, Ahuja says, “It’s been an exhilarating journey to work alongside the best minds in tech in the world. The mentor conversations and expert sessions have helped me reimagine the future of sustainable consumption. Climate action is a pressing issue on a global scale and we must find solutions that can be scaled.”