Today, in honour of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, we are sharing the stories of these women to showcase the enormous diversity and impact of businesses run by women across the world.
From market stalls and shops to factories and online platforms, women-owned businesses are pioneering new products and powering growth in their economies. The women who run them are smashing barriers, inspiring the next generation and driving a global force for good.
Take Romita, a cancer survivor turned award-winning healthcare entrepreneur. She recalls, “I used to watch the Bombay skyline from my hospital window and promise myself that I would do something meaningful with the gift of life if I made it alive.” That promise drove Romita to create an innovative online portal which makes medical devices more affordable and accessible to all.
Since 2008, we have supported countless women like Romita to turn their aspiration into achievement. Join us in saluting these incredible women!
Romita is the founder of Admirus healthcare consultancy and online portal MedSamaan in India
“My mantra is stay focused, come what may, believe in yourself and success will follow.”
In the autumn of ’98 I was diagnosed with Stage 2B Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. The daily walk to school was replaced by long rides to Hinduja Hospital and spending most of my time in bed. The long chemo sessions drained me, but never my self-belief.
I used to watch the Bombay skyline from my hospital window and promise myself that I would do something meaningful with the gift of life if I made it alive. A couple of years passed and I went into remission. After completing an MBA in Biotechnology in 2008, I started my career in healthcare management. In Bangalore, the spirit of entrepreneurship completely engulfed me. I founded Admirus, a healthcare consultancy, but soon the challenges began to emerge: the competition had grown and the healthcare rules were constantly changing. My efforts started bearing fruit in 2014, when more and more companies started approaching Admirus for India market entry.
Then I conceptualised MedSamaan. The idea was to build an online portal, exclusively for medical devices, that would make healthcare accessible and affordable for all. I’d been lucky enough to have access to proper healthcare facilities and I want to provide that for more people. On the MedSamaan platform, manufacturers can easily find end users, doctors and clinics can order innovative medical devices without the burden of minimum orders and long lead times of procurement, and patients can be empowered to make a choice depending upon their product preference and budget.
Being supported by the WE Can initiative has been invaluable in helping me to fine tune my business plan.
Women entrepreneurs come from diverse backgrounds. To ignore the nuisance of countries, industries and business sizes women work in undermines the value of entrepreneurship and minimises the value of partnership, network and marketing opportunities these women provide.
Research shows that women tend to invest 90% of their income back into their families and communities. Shredding light on the efforts and impacts of women entrepreneurs is crucial in supporting them to bring about higher living standards and stronger economies.
Aleksandra is a Deputy Director of a company in Serbia that manufactures and sells fire-fighting vehicles and equipment
“I’m building on my family legacy. I have new business ideas and knowledge about different cultures.”
My father started a company that manufactures and sells fire fighting vehicles and equipment in 1990 in Serbia. When he passed away in early 2016, I stepped in to take the lead.
Although I felt confident in my knowledge of the company, I wanted to gain new ideas to maintain the company’s prestige in a turbulent economy and I wanted to expand to new markets.
When I joined the Mentoring Programme I was matched with Radostina, a senior manager in talent, learning and development for an international cosmetics company in Bulgaria. With Radostina’s background in business planning, operations and HR, she was perfectly placed to help me achieve my objectives.
We used the mentoring sessions to review my business plan and identify long-term goals for the company. We talked through ways to diversify the company’s offering to include consulting services and discussed strategies to enter new markets and seek new clients.
I launched a consulting service and gained new clients including an airport and an industrial complex really quickly. Despite the difficult economy, revenue also increased. I’m currently talking to potential investors about securing investment to continue growing the company.
Beata is a vegetable and poultry farmer in the Rulindo district of Rwanda
“I am proud of my business and I am an open-minded entrepreneur.”
Before joining the Skilling for Change project I had a business buying and selling vegetables, which was making just 15,000 RWF (approximately $18 USD) per month. With no experience in accounting, I didn’t know how to record and manage my finances. I had no clear goals and was unsure how to develop my enterprise.
The Skilling for Change training helped me to come up with new strategies. I started taking orders from clients using my mobile phone, which gave me huge savings on travel costs. I became more aware of the kinds of financial services and products available to me and got a loan from a local Village Savings and Loan Association which I used to set up a new enterprise selling eggs. I even hired an employee to help me out.
The programme also boosted my confidence and equipped me with financial skills to manage my business accounts by differentiating between initial investment and my profit and loss. I am now making more than 50,000 RWF (approximately $60 USD) per month.
My business success has enabled me to improve life at home. I have four children at school and previously relied on my husband’s income to support their education. But now I pay for their uniforms, school fees, books and extracurricular activities. We’ve been able to purchase new land to farm to support my family’s needs.
Diana is the owner of retail wedding dress store in Lebanon
“From shop fit out to management and importing I have the skills to make my business thrive.”
After having my daughter, my husband and I experienced financial problems. I decided to start my own business to help with cash flow.
I started selling wedding dresses not only to generate an income, but to increase my husband’s profits as well by referring my customers to his event planning business.
When I started my retail shop, I faced a lot of difficulties in managing it, setting the right prices on my products and saving money.
The Women’s Economic Empowerment programme taught me how to import wedding dresses from other countries and gave me suggestions of ways to enhance the store’s image. Both allowed me to access new markets.
The networking aspects of the programme have also been valuable. I have been able to benefit greatly from the experience of other women.