Nagaland-based Nengneithem Hengna was in Class X when she decided to be an entrepreneur. "I co-founded Runway India with Captain Tanay Maben in 2021 to empower indigenous artisans across the country by giving them a platform to sell their products and provide employment opportunities. Runway India is an eMarketplace designed to provide a selling platform to artisans specialising in handmade indigenous crafts, and we market the same to our customers, nationally and internationally. We also have an in-house craft production unit specialising in banana fibre, bamboo, and Nagaland indigenous handmade jewellery", she informs.
What's makes her platform unique
Nengneithem says that all their artisanal products are listed state-wise to let the customer know the origin of the craft and give the due credit and promotion to the country's artisans.
Trials and Tribulations
Did entrepreneurship come easily to her? No, Nengneithem entrepreneurial journey was full of challenges. "Lack of finances, transforming the mindset of the artisans, stereotyping, tribalism - I've faced them all but I've always believed in myself and kept myself positive", she says. Additionally, she perceives challenges as opportunities to grow wiser and become adept at finding solutions to them.
Nengneithem currently works with 33 full-time employees and numerous self-help groups attached to them. Does she find it difficult to manage her team? "Not at all, Most of our online conferences and meetings are facilitated through Google Meet", she shares.
"Stop focusing on the problems and channel your energy to find solutions, nothing is impossible only your mind can limit you and nothing else. And never stop learning" - Nengneithem Hengna
Talking about what keeps her grounded as an entrepreneur, she says that she leads a life of integrity and honesty. "At the end of the day, I feel proud of myself and have a clear conscience and I am happy", she says. She believes that smartness, intelligence and knowing how to use technology efficiently are pre-requisites to being an entrepreneur but long-term success is dependent on how rooted and content you are in life.
In the future, Nengneithem will be establishing state-wise units - Runway Manipur, Runway Assam, Runway Madhya Pradesh and so on, creating more awareness about our crafts and livelihood opportunities.
"Our first Runway India store is launching in Dimapur, Nagaland, and the plan is to expand throughout India. We also want to take Runway India overseas to carry a complete Indian Art, craft and skills package. This is also a first-time attempt from a company established in Nagaland to collaborate and work with brands and artisans outside the Northeast. We are taking opportunities to other states from the Northeast. We strongly believe in creating values in the ecosystem we are working in", she says.
Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs
One piece of advice to aspiring women entrepreneurs? "Stop focusing on the problems and channel your energy to find solutions, nothing is impossible. Only your mind can limit you and nothing else. And never stop learning", she advises.
Every entrepreneur needs a solid support system to thrive. Nengneithem acknowledges this and says she found a solid support system in her family. They gave her the freedom and space to fall and learn, get hurt and rise stronger and they were always there to cheer and motivate her.
This interview is published in partnership with Google.