WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS LEADING CHANGE
INTRODUCTION The third edition of Women Transforming India, an online contest, launched by NITI Aayog and the United Nations in India in 2016, celebrates stories of exceptional women entrepreneurs, who are breaking the glass ceiling and challenging stereotypes, through businesses, enterprises and initiatives, that are providing innovative development solutions and have impacted lives of communities. The campaign recognizes women, who are ﬂag bearers of the next wave of innovations and aims to connect them with potential business opportunities, through NITI Aayog’s Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP), a uniﬁed access portal to help women realise their entrepreneurial aspirations. Women Transforming India was launched with the aim to celebrate the indomitable spirit of women, working tirelessly to empower themselves or their communities. The campaign is yet another example of the government’s deep commitment to advancing gender equality. Over the last two years, the campaign has received over 5,000 entries and recognised over 25 women change makers, who are affecting positive change in their communities. Launched on 8 March, the contest was hosted on the WEP portal and ran till 31 August. The contest was supported by an extensive outreach campaign online and ofﬂine, including social media, WhatsApp, Facebook live sessions, road shows, school outreach and more. A number of prominent individuals -- including Smriti Irani, Minister of Textiles, Government of India; Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog; Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog; Sania Mirza, tennis player; Aishwaryaa R Dhanush, Director; Saina Nehwal, badminton player; Sushant Singh Rajput, actor - lent their support to the campaign.
The stories came pouring in… The campaign received over 2,500 entries, demonstrating an exceptional entrepreneurial spirit amongst women in India. Each story was screened and evaluated by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) on pre-determined parameters, to create a shortlist of qualiﬁed entries. The shortlisted entries were further screened through a two-tiered process – an online jury with nine area experts and a super jury of 24 industry leaders. The super jury declared 15 winners based on their combined score.
And the winners are… The winners were felicitated by the Hon’ble Vice President of India Venkaiah Naidu at an event on 16 December, 2018 in New Delhi.
NITI Aayog and the United Nations in India congratulate all winners of the Women Transforming India Awards!
SUPER JURY MEMBERS
UN Resident Coordinator in India
President, National Association of Software & Services Companies (NASSCOM)
Non-executive Chairperson, Dena Bank
Director, Da Milano
Chairman, Bawri Group of Companies
Indian Social Activist
Senior Adviser, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Government of India
Co-founder, 1MG Technologies Pvt. Ltd.
Managing Director, Life Insurance Corporation of India
Australian High Commission
Managing Partner, Corporate Law Group
Co-founder and Chief Business Ofﬁcer, ShopClues.com
Indian Toy Inventor and Science Expert
Managing Director and CEO, Invest India
Executive Director and CEO, Kirloskar Systems Limited and UN in India Young Business Champion for the SDGs
Founder, Mountain Valley Springs India Pvt. Ltd.
Secretary-General, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI)
Co-founder and CEO, Eko India Financial Services Private Limited
UK Government’s Head of Science and Innovation in India
CEO, Content Pixies
Managing Director, Accenture
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Kshetrimayum Indira Devi Manipur
Ajaita Shah Jaipur
Pranshu Patni Jaipur
Weaving a brighter future
Bright ideas can light up lives
Hello English, welcome opportunity!
Namita Banka Hyderabad
Dr Ezhil Subbian Bengaluru
Priyanka Agarwal, Mumbai
Let’s get cleaning!
When waste becomes the jackpot
Crowdfunding for creativity
Kavita Iyer Rodrigues Bengaluru
Nilima Chaturvedi Chhattisgarh
Shikha Shah Gujarat
Making advanced healthcare accessible, affordable
Happiness is handmade
Pulling together the threads of sustainability and economics
Devika Malik Delhi NCR
Monika Shukla Bengaluru
Thinlas Chorol, Ladakh
Wheeling towards empowerment and happiness
What an idea, Madam ji!
Conquering mountains of stereotype
Tage Rita Arunachal Pradesh
V. Yamuna Sastry Bengaluru
Seema Prem Gurugram
India’s ﬁrst kiwi winery pushes up farmers spirits
Making cab drivers money-wise
You can bank on her
A COMEBACK, ONE WEAVE AT A TIME
Weaving is an intrinsic part of the social fabric of Manipur. And so, when Kshetrimayum Indira Devi saw it slowly disappearing from the collective imagination of the youth around her, she knew she had to do something about it. The 46-year-old realised that in order to empower the weavers, mostly women, and make them self-reliant, boundaries had to be pushed. Innovation in product design was key.
Armed with a diploma from the Indian Institute of Handloom Technology, Guwahati, Indira organised the weavers in self-help groups and provided training, especially in design development, product diversiﬁcation, and weaving with advanced techniques. With the support of the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), the ﬂagship scheme of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE), she helped breathe new life in the handloom
Kshetrimayum Indira Devi’s social enterprise Chanu Creations is determined to revive Manipur’s handloom sector by giving it a modern spin.
Kshetrimayum Indira Devi, Imphal,
Manipur - Chanu Creations
industry in her state and in the northeast region. Indira’s designs are a mix of traditional and modern, which have found a market not only in India but across the world. She has also been able to demonstrate that traditional crafts with a creative spin can create sustainable incomes for the weavers in her community. Today, Indira has trained over 15,000 women weavers from the
northeast region. She believes that the handloom sector, if revived, can bring investment and create business opportunities in the region. Indira was awarded the National Award 2015 in Design Development of Handloom Products by the Ministry of Textiles, and the Nari Shakti Puraskar last year by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi.
LIGHTING THE WAY FOR CHANGE
Living without electricity seems like an impossible thought today. And yet, when Ajaita Shah realised it was a reality for millions of people in India, she was determined to do something about it. Through Frontier Markets, a social enterprise she co-founded in 2011, the 34-year-old cleantech entrepreneur is taking clean energy solutions to every home in rural Rajasthan.
Ajaita Shah, Jaipur, Rajasthan Frontier Markets
Ajaita Shah’s Jaipur-based social enterprise is taking clean and affordable energy to rural households. And she’s doing it with an army of solar sahelis - rural women who are convincing reluctant communities to switch to solar energy.
And at the centre were local women. Through Frontier Markets, she trained and transformed 2,500 local women into entrepreneurs, solar sahelis. Frontier Markets partners with Indian manufacturers to produce clean energy solutions, supplies them to the solar sahelis, and earns revenue through margins from the sale of products. The margins are shared with the solar sahelis, who also earn a ﬁxed
income, for data collection. Today, some 5,000 solar entrepreneurs -- half of whom are women -- have sold 5,60,000 energy solutions, thereby reaching over 3.5 million people. Over 1,25,000 kerosene lanterns have been replaced with solar lamps, and ﬁrewood consumption has drastically reduced. Ajaita invested all her savings, a small amount she says, into the company, which now has an annual turnover of more than INR 5,00,00,000. Frontier Markets has expanded its operations to states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Odisha, with an intent to scale to 10,000 women entrepreneurs and reach 10 million people in the next year.
An innovative learning app is revolutionising the way India is learning English, and Pranshu Patni, co-founder of Hello English, is riding the wave of success.
INDIA SAYS ‘HELLO ENGLISH’ When Pranshu Patni, co-founder of Hello English, started Culture Alley in 2012 as a platform for the English-speaking community to learn a foreign language, it didn't take her long to realise that English had a bigger market, especially for Hindi and Chinese speakers. That’s why she launched mobile app Hello English in 2014.
Pranshu Patni, Jaipur, Rajasthan Hello English
What makes Hello English different is that users are not required to blindly follow a curriculum. The app uses local language as reference points. The users consume real-world content, such as stories, trending videos, news delivered to them in English and their native language, such as Hindi, Marathi, Tamil and more. A voice-based engine has been added to the app to allow learners to have conversations with virtual friends.
Today, Hello English is used by more than 45 million users across 22 languages and 55,000 cities, towns, and villages in India. This makes it the second-most used edtech product globally. Last year, Hello English won the Google Editors’ Choice and India’s Best App awards. Pranshu is also working with companies such as Wipro and Domino’s to train their front-facing workforce. Earlier this year, Pranshu won the CNBC Young Women Achievers award as well as Facebook’s She Leads Tech award. She has also been featured in the Forbes 30 under 30 list.
A journey from Surat to Hyderabad brought Namita Banka face-to-face with one of the harshest realities of travelling in trains -unhygienic toilets. That day Namita resolved to tackle this challenge head-on. In the quest for eco-friendly human waste management, her path was littered with several failed projects. Almost a decade ago, she started a company to recycle printer cartridges. That failed, but
BUILDING A SWACHH BHARAT THROUGH BIO-TOILETS
Development Organisation. DRDO’s bio-digester tech did away with the need to clear and transport sewage. Instead, the bacteria in the bio-digester simply converts poop into biogas. Armed with a licence from DRDO, she began manufacturing bio-digester tanks for human waste, which could be installed in new toilets or retroﬁtted to old ones.
Unhygienic public toilets and improper sanitation facilities are often a stinking reality for all of us. Thus began Namita Banka’s quest for eco-friendly human waste management.
Namita Banka, Hyderabad, Telangana Banka Bioloo
she learnt a lot about waste management. So, in 2009, when the Indian Railways started experimenting with bio-toilets, she took a dealership from companies providing these solutions. And soon, Banka Bioloos was born, with the aim to provide sustainable sanitation solutions for everyone, everywhere. Banka joined hands with the Defence Research and
Since it was established, Banka Bioloo has built nearly 8,000 bio-toilets across 19 states. Namita’s venture employs 700 rural youth and plans to employ another 300 next year. Banka’s client list is equally impressive and includes the Indian Railways, L&T, the Government of Andhra Pradesh, schools, construction sites, resorts, villages, and other places that lack sewerage lines or connection to sewerage systems.
Ezhil Subbian co-founded String Bio in 2013 with the aim to deliver cost-effective, sustainable solutions for real-world challenges. Based in Bengaluru, String Bio provides a new way of using methane produced from waste or available from natural sources, by converting it into monomers. These monomers are building blocks to create everyday products, such as biodegradable plastic or polymers for stents and sutures. String Bio has also discovered ways to turn methane into protein. After spending over a decade in California, USA, working with three startups in the biotech industry, Ezhil moved back to India to set up
BIO-TECH SPREADS ITS WINGS
Imagine a world where gas emitted from landﬁlls can be turned into edible protein. Dr Ezhil Subbian says it’s happening already.
Dr Ezhil Subbian, Bengaluru, Karnataka String Bio
String Bio. The biggest risk in this endeavour, she said, was “investing personal capital to develop the initial technology.” There have been other challenges, but the impact of this initiative is far-reaching. With String Pro, its ﬁrst product in the market, String Bio has attempted to address the growing gap in protein supply. For its work that has a far-reaching impact towards the creation of a clean and ecologically sustainable world, String Bio won a tech startup award in Karnataka and on other platforms.
Priyanka Agarwal’s Wishberry helps ‘strictly creative’ stories become reality. As a crowdfunding platform, Wishberry has been a boon for independent storytellers working across mediums -- from ﬁlm and music videos to game shows and dance festivals.
Priyanka Agarwal, Mumbai, Maharashtra Wishberry
CROWDFUNDING FOR CREATIVITY Launched in 2012, Wishberry has supported hundreds of projects and is one of India’s most successful online crowdfunding platforms for independent creative artists. CEO and co-founder Priyanka Agarwal’s mantra, “go fund yourself”, is reﬂected in Wishberry’s all-or-nothing approach to crowdfunding: either artists raise 100 per cent of the funds they require to actualise their project in 60 days, or the contributions are returned to the donors. But on this rewards-based crowdfunding platform, seven of 10 innovative ideas meet or exceed - their goal. Wishberry supports the unconventional narratives that would have a difﬁcult time getting mainstream investors, promoting diverse voices, experiences and issues through low-budget ﬁlms with compelling storylines, interesting game shows, innovative science projects, music videos with a message, and dance festivals, among others. For instance, Wishberry supported a ﬁlm called Chuskit set in Ladakh,
about a paraplegic girl and dream of going to school. A Tamil ﬁlm about a struggling make-up artist who visits her maternal village to do make-up not for the living, but for the dead, was also supported by Wishberry. In all, Wishberry accepts projects in nine categories -- art, comics, dance, product design, ﬁlm, music, photography, publishing, and theatre. Supporting scores of ideas take ﬂight, Priyanka says that the motivation behind her work is not just money but the satisfaction that she is enabling people realise their dreams. Priyanka graduated Wharton with a degree in business and engineering, started her ﬁrst company while still in college, worked at blue-chip companies like KPMG, Goldman Sachs and McKinsey, all before co-founding Wishberry. This 33-year-old has won laurels as a digital woman entrepreneur and strongly believes that if one has self-belief, dreams can come true.
MAKING ADVANCED HEALTHCARE ACCESSIBLE, AFFORDABLE Kavita Iyer Rodrigues, Bengaluru, Karnataka Zumotor
Kavita Iyer Rodrigues’ start-up, Zumotor, is helping millions across India and beyond access high-quality and affordable medical care.
Cutting-edge medical care is most often a luxury only the rich can afford, with some of the most innovative treatments being prohibitively expensive. Kavitha Iyer Rodrigues’ start-up, Zumotor, which aids research and development of novel biologics and bio-betters, aims to upend the status quo and provide affordable access to effective, game-changing therapies to anyone who needs it. Scientiﬁc and technological
innovation at Zumutor attempts to address gaps in cancer, diabetes and auto-immune disorder therapies. Zumutor has also developed a scanning tool to screen various disease targets, exploring a large pool of antibodies represented by healthy, genetically diverse, and so far untapped, populations in India. Zumotor is Kavitha’s second start-up. With technical expertise in core biologics development and operations at major biopharma
companies such as Biocon, as well as the experience of running a successful venture before, this 41-year-old is using her deep understanding of the ﬁeld to develop an innovative medical platform that will yield social beneﬁts both in the short and long term. “We wanted to create a cutting-edge scientiﬁc platform developed in India that will cater to the global needs. In long run, our platform will improve the access, affordability of innovative drugs for the common people of
India,” she says. Zumotor’s team of 35 people in Bengaluru is complemented by an ofﬁce in Boston, USA. Managing the travel and funding has been a challenge for Kavitha, but Zumotor has grown from strength to strength, with a lead molecule that will be the ﬁrst in class product for an indication of prostate cancer ready for pre-clinical trial.
From a humble beginning as a small self-help group, Nilima Chaturvedi has grown a sprawling venture that employs scores of women -- all of whom are together scripting a delicious success story.
Nilima Chaturvedi, Janakpur, Chhattisgarh
Nilima Chaturvedi’s story began as many do, as a girl of just 14, married off into a violent household. But the script changed when she was her mid-20s. Nilima learnt of self-help groups (SHGs) and, given her indomitable spirit, decided to found one. She convinced a few other women to join her, and thus began her journey to the formation of the Korea Mahila Grih Udyog (KMGU). The ﬁrst milestone, said Nilima, was
when her newly-formed SHG got a bank loan to buy a knitting machine. In 2001, the group sold 5,000 sweaters at a state-level exhibition, after which they started receiving orders from nearby schools and villages. Encouraged, they diversiﬁed their product range and started making decorative items and chutneys. They sold these at Chhattisgarh’s mega cultural event, Rajyotsav, held in the capital, Raipur, and got a resounding response.
Nilima leveraged this success to form 40 SHGs. Meanwhile, the district collector suggested the formation of an umbrella organisation, the KGMU. Nilima and her SHGs joined this group, and under her dynamic leadership, a separate unit was formed in Janakpur. More than 500 women from nearby villages joined Nilima as she ventured into papad production. They started making pickles, masalas, turmeric powder, coriander powder, and other home
produce in bulk, which they sold through their retail arm, the Korea Mahila Kiran Dukan. Nilima’s business savvy and courage have secured employment for hundreds of women in the district, enabling them to become more self-reliant and independent. Nilima herself is the president of the KMGU and her next task, she says, is to train workers on food safety and standard operating procedures as they seek FSSAI certiﬁcation for their products.
Ahmedabad & Surat, Gujarat Canva Fibre Labs
Ignoring cushy job offers after graduation, Shikha Shah took the risky decision to start her own enterprise, making durable textile from agricultural waste. Hers is now one of the leading companies in material science and hemp ecosystem in India.
Shikha Shah is a trailblazer. Not only is she the ﬁrst woman in her family to leave home in the pursuit of a career, that career has taken the form of an enterprise that transforms agricultural waste into sustainable textiles, neatly solving the dual problem of textile pollution and agricultural waste burning. The textile industry is the second biggest polluter on the planet. Shikha’s Canva Fibre Labs converts plant stems and agricultural waste into a sustainable and functionally superior textile. This, Shikha says, is a good alternative to cotton: “It uses less water than cotton. It doesn’t
require pesticides or insecticides like cotton, and improves soil health.” The ﬁbre is more durable than cotton, naturally anti-bacterial, all-weather accommodating, UV-resistant, and soft. On the ﬂip side, farmers also beneﬁt. Instead of burning their agricultural waste - a major contributor to air pollution -- they can sell it for a supplementary income. Shikha’s enterprise has earned appreciation from the Ministry of Textile, as well as from IIM-Ahmedabad, Gujarat University, and other institutions. Over the next ﬁve months, Shikha plans to expand her textile production capacity by four times. Given that she is only 23 years of age, Shikha is a prime example of what young women with sufﬁcient gumption and imagination can achieve if only they are given the opportunity.
WHEELING TOWARDS EMPOWERMENT
Devika Malik achieved success through disability sports. Her foundation Wheeling Happiness, builds on her personal experience to enable other people with disabilities from economically underserved communities to reach their full potential.
Devika Malik, Delhi NCR
At 28, Devika Malik is an accomplished young woman: an athlete, an international medallist, a counsellor, a research scholar and a social entrepreneur. She is also paralysed on her left side. Devika has channelled her success in disability sports to inﬂuence inclusive policies both in India and abroad through her foundation, Wheeling Happiness. Wheeling Happiness is an effort to enable people with disabilities from economically underserved communities to reach their full potential. The foundation conducts
disability awareness and inclusion workshops in numerous schools and colleges across India. It advises public and private sector companies on designing inclusive employment and client services strategies. It also conducts accessibility audits; provides counselling, driving lessons, mobility aids and sports equipment; and facilitates access to public and private sector employment for economically disadvantaged persons with disabilities. Wheeling Happiness has, for instance, built ramps in gyms and at the Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway
Station in New Delhi. But while making public spaces accessible was and is a challenge, enabling people with disabilities to believe in their own capabilities is equally daunting. But for Devika, helping them realise their own potential and fulﬁl their dreams is a challenge she embraces. Devika is on the advisory panel of many national and international NGOs working on inclusion and has conducted advocacy workshops at the Commonwealth Secretariat and Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. She is a member of the
drafting committee of the Global Disability Summit Charter for Children and Youth with Disabilities. Devika’s work has been recognised by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi. She was also awarded the Queen’s Young Leader Award by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom in 2015. Devika plans to partner with corporations to conduct awareness campaigns for people with disabilities in rural areas, and to expand support for women and girls with disabilities to become sportspersons.
Monika Shukla’s social venture LetsEndorse is connecting scalable social innovations to communities, grassroots organisations, businesses and local administrations in India, ensuring solutions reach the last mile.
Monika Shukla, Bengaluru, Karnataka LetsEndorse
India is one of the youngest countries in the world -- and a laboratory for innovative, out-of-the-box solutions to developmental challenges. Monika Shukla a 30-year-old IIT-Kharagpur graduate, exempliﬁes this potential. In 2013, she leveraged the power of the internet to connect social innovations to grassroots organisations, businesses, local administration and socially savvy individuals through her startup, LetsEndorse. Monika’s venture is a digital market network connecting
500 social innovations from 35 countries to over 1,500 grassroots implementation partners, local administrations and more than 12,000 individual donors and volunteers. LetsEndorse enables intelligent knowledge harnessing of practicable social models, builds collaborations for co-creating and scaling-up of solutions, and fosters transparent mobilisation of resources from various stakeholders for accelerated intervention. The home-grown suite of
SHARING SOLUTIONS technology-enabled products build operational efﬁciency and greater transparency in the way social organisations function and deliver the solutions at the last mile.
Some of the ideas featured on LetsEndorse are bio-toilets, solar-powered cold storage systems, arsenic water ﬁlters, waste de-composters, maternity simulators and digitised classrooms. Communities across India and the world can discover, compare, procure, or raise funds for
the solutions that are tailored to their geography, demography, cultural habits and behaviour. The idea is to take the most practicable social innovations to scale, rather than reinvent the wheel. Monika’s 16-member team is based out of Bengaluru, Delhi, Chandigarh and Guwahati. The next step is to increase the impact of Lets Endorse, by showcasing 5,000 innovative solutions and bringing together 10,000 NGOs and 1,00,000 volunteers.
Thinlas Chorol’s Ladakhi Women’s Travel Company is the ﬁrst and only travel company in Ladakh owned and operated by women, training them to conduct treks.
Thinlas Chorol is Ladakh’s ﬁrst professionally-trained female trekking guide, and it was an uphill climb for her to get there. As a woman in what was perceived to be a man’s job, it was difﬁcult to convince the community that she was up to the task. Her determination paid off; she established her credibility and started the Ladakhi Women’s Travel Company in 2009, employing only women guides and porters. Thinlas’s company is also famous for arranging homestays in remote villages to give tourists a closer look at the region's culture. The aim was to enable Ladakhi women to become economically self-sufﬁcient by providing a
sustainable source of income -which means they do not have to move away from their villages in search of employment. To date, the company has trained over 70 women and currently employs eight guides, four trainees and 20 staff. Trainees are required to undergo a year-long course before becoming professional trekking guides. The guides are also trained to be aware of the history, local culture, ﬂora and fauna, so that a trekking trip with them is enriching in more ways than one. Thinlas plans to venture into exploring alternate income-generating activities for women during the off season in winter.
In Arunachal Pradesh’s Ziro Valley, the homegrown kiwi is experiencing a resurgence, courtesy Tage Rita’s innovative winemaking initiative that trains and supports farmers to cultivate kiwi fruit with a buyback assurance.
INDIA’S FIRST KIWI WINERY Tage Rita Takhe, Ziro Valley, Arunachal Pradesh Naara-Aaba
Kiwi fruit is abundant in the lush forests around the Ziro Valley in Arunachal Pradesh, especially where the Apatani tribe lives. Despite its abundance, however, locals struggled to sell the produce because of the demand for imported kiwis in the country. Kiwi farmers in Arunachal Pradesh were close to stopping cultivation of the fruit and shuttering their farms -- at least until Tage Rita invested in Naara-Aaba, a boutique winery in 2017.
Tage found the solution to a local problem, brewing the ﬁrst ever pure kiwi wine in India from fruit sourced from her personal orchard and the Kiwi Growers Cooperative Society in Arunachal Pradesh. Farmers are happy to have an assured buyer for their produce and some farmers who had moved away from kiwi farming because they did not have access to the market have now returned to growing the fruit. Drinking wine is an age-old tradition among the various tribes of
Arunachal Pradesh and so wine-making is not a new concept here. But traditional methods did not allow for the preservation of kiwi wine for a long duration. It took Tage six years of in-depth research and careful planning to ﬁnd the right solution between traditional winemaking and modern techniques.
a challenge due to a lack of connectivity to the airport and frequent landslides. Tage is unfazed, however. She plans to ramp up production and make a batch of sparkling wine -- again, the ﬁrst of its kind in India.
Today, the kiwi wine is available in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh for INR 1,200 a bottle. Exporting the product to the rest of India remains
Yamuna Sastry’s startup is on a mission to ensure cab drivers in cities secure a ﬁnancial future by providing them with expert advisory services related to tax planning.
HELPING CAB DRIVERS BECOME MONEY-SMART V. Yamuna Sastry,Bengaluru, Karnataka Cab Dost
The advent of online cab aggregators like Ola and Uber in the Indian market has disrupted the taxi market in its top-tier cities for the foreseeable future. For cab drivers, this has translated into a big jump in their monthly income, bringing most of them into the taxable bracket and creating a need for ﬁnancial planning. But with no ﬁnancial helpdesks, many cab drivers were vulnerable to moneylenders. Yamuna Sastry’s Cab Dost addresses this gap and
brings cab drivers into the formal economy. Founded in 2015, Cab Dost seeks to educate and assist cab drivers in ﬁling their income tax returns, linking their Aadhaar details and completing other essential compliance-related requirements. In addition, the enterprise offers them necessary guidance on matters pertaining to banking, saving schemes and insurance.
Today, Cab Dost is a full-ﬂedged for-proﬁt startup, charging drivers a nominal ﬁling fee of INR 500. If drivers are applying for loans, the enterprise charges additional costs for audited ﬁnancial statements. The startup also runs a ﬁnancial literacy programme to educate drivers about life insurance, medical insurance, net banking and government saving schemes. Yamuna’s enterprise operates on marginal returns, with most of the revenue reinvested into free IT-ﬁling and ﬁnancial literacy campaigns among taxi drivers. So far, Cab Dost has worked with over 7,500 drivers, resulting in over INR 2,00,00,000 worth tax refunds. Yamuna aims to expand Cab Dost to 100 cities in India and offer services to auto drivers, security guards, and housekeepers as well.
TAKING BANKS TO THE UNBANKED Seema Prem Gurugram
Aligned with the Government of India's Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), Seema Prem’s FIA Technology Services was founded with a mission of social and economic inclusion, livelihood empowerment and poverty alleviation. FIA is a leading national provider of business correspondent and remittance services to the last mile. It offers a comprehensive suite of
ﬁnancial services, digitised remittance services – both inward and outward - and lending services. A comprehensive digital distribution platform helps reach unserved geographies efﬁciently and proﬁtably. FIA specialises in creating and managing network points where the transformation between physical cash and digital money takes place. Inﬂuenced by her childhood spent in
some of the most inaccessible terrains in India, Seema felt compelled to work towards reducing the inequities she saw. Under her direction, FIA enables ﬁnancial inclusion; builds outreach into unserved communities in India and Nepal; deepens ﬁnancial inclusion through our ﬁnancial literacy programmes, distribution of government subsidies and access to social security schemes; and
Seema Prem’s FIA Technology Services enables millions in India to move from cash-based transactions to formal digital ﬁnancial transactions by leveraging local capacities.
enables cashless transactions through their “digital villages”. She has been instrumental in guiding FIA to help mobilise loans at reasonable rates which, in turn, helps entrepreneurs initiate new ventures. In all FIA has reached over 15 million people. More than half, or 52 percent, of its banked customers, are women. Looking ahead, Seema
plans to reach one million micro-enterprises and create the largest network of FIA Inclusion Centers to enable individuals to avail an array of services – ﬁnancial inclusion, skill development, livelihood opportunities, digital payment solutions and access other socially impactful products and services.
Stories of women entrepreneurs leading change.