“Digital has the Power to Bridge a lot of Barriers”, says Neha Barjatya
Digital is enabling women to become entrepreneurs, empower themselves and others around. To put spotlight on how women entrepreneurs from across the country are making it possible, Neha Barjatya, Head-biz marketing Google India, Nishat Mukaddam, Founder of Wedlista and entrepreneur Rohini Sandeep Shirke came together for a panel discussion on the theme “Entrepreneurship at the roots” at Digital Women Awards held in Mumbai on Sunday. Shaili Chopra, Founder of SheThePeople.Tv moderated the panel.
“Women who hadn't touched a smartphone, are now making a living by learning off the internet”, says Neha Barjatya, Head of Business Marketing, Google India about the #internetsaathi initiative helping women entrepreneurs in rural India at the #DigitalWomenAwards. pic.twitter.com/c3OXxa4zOU
— Google India (@GoogleIndia) November 19, 2017
Idea behind Wedlista.com
Driven by a personal story, Nishat Mukkadam started Wedlista.com as a fashion for weddings e-commerce platform.
“It was my best friend’s wedding. She was a Gujarati girl getting married to a south Indian guy. We were excited to shop together, to go out and figure out from where to buy those south Indian accessories and bridal wear. But for working professionals, it is difficult to go out and shop together”
That’s when she looked for an online solution where one could shop for different cultural weddings. After a year she came out with Wedlista.com wherein you can shop for different occasions for a wedding.
Entrepreneurship in Rural Areas
Rohini Sandeep Shirke from Sitara used the Internet to kick-start her business of selling honey boxes.
She joined Google Dharmalaya and learnt how to operate the Internet and searched on how she would develop a project based on honey and the various challenges she will have to face once she sets it up.
Technology enabled her to expand her business. She says,
“I was selling honey to my neighbours, friends and relatives. I started using Facebook and Whatsapp and that expanded my business. Earlier I used to sell 25 to 50 bottles but I sold 500 kg honey this year.”
— SheThePeople (@SheThePeopleTV) November 19, 2017
Bridging barriers through technology
Neha Barjatya, Head-biz marketing, Google India gave an insight into how the technological wave is sweeping rural areas of the country.
“Digital has the power to bridge a lot of barriers that used to exist. If we look at internet Saathis, these are women in rural India who had never touched a smartphone ever. Suddenly, they are skilling themselves with information they never had any access to. Then they are learning ways of earning income which was a concept that didn’t even exist with them earlier.”
45% of the saathis say that they have increased their income by the skills they have learnt online. – Neha
She averred that their next billion users will come from small towns and cities.
“We want every INDIAN to come online and that’s what our endeavour is. – Neha
Besides arming herself with knowledge and skills, Rohini is like a tech messiah for other people of her village.
“A lot of women in my villages know stitching so I helped them and taught them new ways of designing blouses. I help some college girls in making projects.” She also contested the elections for the post of Sarpanch of her village and used Whatsapp for the campaigning.
On the future of women entrepreneurship
Nishat explained how digital is the solution as there is so much data online and all we have to do is go and look for that.
“We are no more clueless on how our entrepreneurial journey would be because we can look at somebody else’s and learn from their experiences.”