Medarisha Lyngdoh on Challenges faced by Women Entrepreneurs From The Northeast: I belong to the Khasi tribe who inhabit the eastern part of Meghalaya. So the Khasi tribe follows the Matrilineal system, which primarily means the lineage is passed on from the women’s side of the family.
There are other nuances of the system like ancestral property custody is to the youngest daughter, public administration is primarily done only by males. This system gives women an enhanced social status and responsibility in managing their immediate and extended family.
Coming From A Matrilineal Community
For me personally being raised in such a system is a blessing. We are raised to be strong, independent and given similar opportunities to men. There is no bias/preferences due to gender. For example, when my sister and her friend, after their 10th exam, wanted to take up a summer course in electrical works, which included lots of manual drilling etc. The class, which had all males except for them, hardly anyone raised an eyebrow.
It is only when I stepped out of the country is when I truly realised how privileged I am to have this position.
With an equal standing irrespective of gender that we enjoy, what I have also realised is that men and women function differently. We should not make gender identity toxic, but rather play on our strengths to complement each other. Extremism will bring in chaos and a breakdown in the beautiful relationship the God has fabricated between genders.
I started off my career like other IT students. Got into TCS via campus placement and then two more companies. As part of that journey of about 15 years I went on to work with various banking clients, all over the world, to help build their core banking software, business intelligence and Data analytics needs. In the last 15 years of my journey I noticed that there is no lack of potential in our own country and people. There are countries which have made more out of less and we as a family, community, state, country have much more but that is not harnessed to its full potential.
When I was approached to help build eSamudaay, I saw the opportunity to be able to play a more impactful role in shaping up a more sustainable and productive community/society.
We aim to help local entrepreneurs to own their own digital marketplaces. We are also creating a producer network to help bring up local producers as well. Most of the digital marketplaces we see around onboard sellers and manage the online market. There is centralisation of rules and technology and no collaboration between parties.
One, what we offer is digital tools and support. The management and rule of the digital local marketplace are to come from the local community itself. This results in value being retained in the community.
Second, there is power in networking and we in the future want to facilitate networking between communities also so that there is a win-win situation for all.
Third, our software is open APIs. Anyone can build on top, choose to create their own brand and build as per their unique needs.
Lastly, we also plan to integrate the financial, social and spiritual needs of the community in our solution.
This entrepreneurship venture is a chance to go beyond myself and be part of a change that I want to see.
While we the women in Meghalaya have an advantage, due to our social standing which gives us an equal footing as men, yet there are not many women entrepreneurs. There are various reasons for this, namely lack of a support structure, lack of understanding of financial/tax/legal regulations, risk taking appetite, lack of understanding of market potential, outreach etc. Lack of vision on how to go from ideation to execution and growth.
Entrepreneurship is not easy
I would like to say to all aspiring women entrepreneurs out there that entrepreneurship is not easy, but it is very rewarding, and you could have a huge positive impact on your society. Do not strive to do it all alone, get like minded people and think big. Take advantage of support structures set up by governments and others to take care of aspects you are not very adept with, so that you can focus on your product/service. Digitise as much as possible as that brings in efficiency & ability to automate tasks. This will be of paramount importance for you to be able to manage and grow your business.
Medarisha Lyngdoh is the co-founder & COO of eSamudaay. The views expressed are the author’s own.