Leaving a thriving career for a child is not easy but we all know women who have done that. However, there are a few who have learned the trick to balance both professional and personal life. From taking care of their families to running successful businesses, this Mother’s Day, let’s meet these inspiring mompreneurs who have carved a niche for themselves.
Sunita Agaskar, Founder, Credence Global
“Balance is the key,” says Sunita Agaskar, when we asked her what does it take to be a successful mompreneur. “Every mompreneur has two children, her kids and her enterprise. Balancing both children is what it takes,” she goes on to add.
Agaskar quit her dream corporate job with an MNC when she was expecting her first child. She felt that she had to choose between raising a family and pursuing her career aspirations. Raised in a culture where “women are expected to make sacrifices”, she decided to let go off her job.
Before the birth of her second child, Agaskar was hospitalised for check-ups. It was here where she realised the importance of availability of healthcare products to patients. This brought about a turning point in her thought process. What if she could start a firm that could make healthcare products available to one and all? Could she do that and also raise two children?
“With the blessings of God and the support of my family, I started a small pharmaceutical distribution firm called Credence Global from home in 2013,” the Mumbai-based mom recalls. She used to hand-deliver medicines to hospitals then. Today, Credence Global is a multi-crore enterprise catering to sixty plus (and growing) hospitals, nursing homes, stockists and chemists across the entire Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).
From just two products in the beginning, the company now handles 450 products in the field of anaesthesia, medical equipments, injectables, intensive care, surgical, anti-cancer products, gynae, ophthalmic and temperature-sensitive products.
All of this and yet she finds quality time to raise both her kids. “At first, one does feel guilty leaving one for the other,” she says, however, she is quick to point out that “women are born multi-taskers with an ability to balance complex situations and multiple roles and yet smile through them”.
“Another quality that we possess is an ability to embrace and adapt to change quickly like we change our entire identity once we move into our marital homes,” adds Agaskar.
As Agaskar eyes expansion of her business, her message to all aspiring mompreneurs is simple. “Yes, it is possible to manage both successfully. You do not need to choose one over the other. Believe in yourself and take the plunge. The journey is beautiful,” she says.
Chetana Misra, Founder, MompreneursIndia
Chetana Misra quit a promising career in IT after her son was diagnosed with hearing loss and had to undergo a few surgeries. “I had to prioritise his needs over mine. So, when I quit my career after 15 years, I was left with a vacuum in my life because suddenly I was in a different environment where I was alone at home all day just with my kid and the maids. There was no one to talk to or have constructive discussions with, which you can do when you are working,” she tells indianexpress.com.
She wanted to talk to like-minded women who were going through a career break and starting their own business. “That’s how I came with the idea for MompreneursIndia, and I started a free Facebook group with this name,” she says, explaining how as a business directory of mompreneurs, the group started with 500 followers in 2013.
However, the challenges were aplenty. “Despite my competencies and wide experience, finding customers was tough. When pitched against men and corporate houses, the odds went against women entrepreneurs in general and especially for home-run businesses operated by mothers. There were a lot of misses than hits. I felt alone in my struggle and needed to talk to someone. The Facebook community became the channel to connect with other mothers in business and to discuss business problems and strategies to overcome them,” she shares.
Misra further adds that over a course of several interactions, interviews and surveys with the women in the group, she realised that what she considered to be just her struggle was in fact a phenomenon that was affecting many mothers.
Today, the community group share knowledge, contacts and benefit from strategic partnership to include more than 50,000 like-minded women. The recognition led Chetana to be selected as one of the three Indian women out of 6,000 applications worldwide for Facebook Community Leadership Fellowship Program in 2018.
Smashing the myth that the life of mompreneurs is fun and full of freedom, she says, “A mompreneur and more specifically a solopreneur is juggling too many things herself”.
“When she is not physically at her desk doing her work or making something that she sells, she will be on her phone answering calls and whatsapping her clients, responding to queries and comments on social media and responding to emails on her ipad. We learn pretty soon that as the business grows there is no free time. The only free time is when we are sleeping or in the shower but even then we are probably thinking about that next task that we need to finish,” says Chetana.
Sairee Chahal, Founder, SHEROES
Growing up in a small town of Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, Sairee Chahal saw the struggles that women experience. “In 1996, I discovered the Internet after coming to Delhi and that made me want to become an entrepreneur”. In 2014, she started SHEROES, a women-only platform offering interactions, resources, support, and opportunities. Today, the network is accessible in five languages and is home to Babygogo app, a vibrant community of moms and Maya app, supporting women’s health.
Chahal, the mother of a 10-year-old girl, suggests that it is important to identify what one is passionate about, or the issues one is looking to solve, and build on it. Then one can do small experiments to explore whether there is a market to create something around it and subsequently develop a “sustainable business model around it”, as capital is important to sustain any business.
“Build a strong network of support – your team, your family, friends, and mentors and collaborate and support other women entrepreneurs and help build the ecosystem for women-led businesses. Mentor aspiring entrepreneurs whenever you can,” she points out.
Ask her about the toughest challenge she had to face and pat comes the reply, “Social conditioning is a tough thing to break and it’s important to stay focused and not get swayed by what others say. Which is why I say, build a good support network that you can lean on and vice-versa when the going gets tough. I encourage mompreneurs to join online communities where they can meet like-minded women, have conversations and also give back. This just helps expand and strengthen their network.”
Rashi Gupta, Founder, Snacks N Food
When Rashi Gupta had a child, she realised that there were no “healthy food options” when the family travelled with the baby girl. So, with a motto of providing healthy and homemade food, Gupta started Snacks N Food in Pune in late 2016. “I started with a line of healthy homemade munchies that included whole wheat snacks, ragi, bajra and jowar snacks. I got a good response and people started asking for homemade food for parties,” she recalls.
With the help of a nutrition expert and support from her husband, she began personally delivering the orders. In a matter of four months, her business became popular through word-of-mouth and she started getting calls for orders from across Pune. “I started this work single-handedly and now Punekars know me by name. My daughter, who is now five, is my best critic as she has excellent taste buds,” shares Rashi, adding that the best motivation are her clients who give “honest feedback”.
Within a year of launching, she had more than 500 regular clients and almost two new clients every day. Gupta also took dealership of “few good brands” which deal in natural and healthy products. Now, after 2.5 years of the business, Rashi, who has also launched new munchies like healthy cookies, khakhra and roasted snacks, says that “it feels good that I get new orders every single day!”