Grace Hopper Conference to be held in Bangalore on November 15 is all set to empower women entrepreneurs, says Caroline Diana.
About four years ago, Sangeeta Banerjee was working in a renowned global IT company. It was a dream job of sorts: She worked in the nine-to-five shift; earned a hefty pay package, and even had a fancy designation. Nevertheless, she was keen on doing something out of the box-- something she could call it her own. So Banerjee, along with a friend, decided to start a new venture. In 2009, the duo set up Apartment ADDA, a software services company that offers easy-to-use housing solutions that are beneficial for home owners, tenants and maintenance staff. Thus began the journey that transformed Banerjee from a mere employee into an enthusiastic entrepreneur.
"While my work at the MNC was peaceful, I did have a boss whom I had to report to. Getting my leaves sanctioned was a big problem," reminisces the 35-year-old entrepreneur. However, setting up her own company did pose a lot of challenges. But with the right guidance, Banerjee was able to pull through. Today, her company churns a turnover of about Rs1 crore.
Several women entrepreneurs like Banerjee are successfully running their own business, thanks in large measure to initiatives like Women Entrepreneur Quest (WEQ), which has been successfully working towards empowering women for the past three years.
"WEQ offers lot of mentorship programmes. They train you to be better business women. They teach you how to present a business plan and tackle business challenges," says Banerjee, who won WEQ`s cash award of Rs five lakh in 2011.
This year, WEQ contest will run through a two-tier selection process. The selection committee will evaluate all the business plans received and select the best six startups based on several criteria including customer need being addressed, competitive business models and effective and innovative use of technology.
The six finalists will be mentored closely by Manish Singhal, a hands-on mentor, business coach and an active angel investor, to shape their pitches for the final Showcase and Award Presentation event. The final pitches will be made personally at the Grace Hopper Conference -India conference in Bangalore next month, in front of a distinguished judge panel comprising of a mix of VCs, entrepreneurs and mentors. “Anything we can do to promote women entrepreneurship in India will go a long way in shaping India’s future. WEQ is a humble attempt towards that," said Singhal.
This initiative will identify and support women entrepreneurs who are passionate about building businesses of excellence on par with global corporations. “We believe an energetic Indian economy can keep the momentum on only through entrepreneurship. Indian women have the potential to change course, take risks and achieve greater heights. We would like to contribute to their growth path in whatever possible way”, says Geetha Kannan, India Head, Anita Borg Institute."
Don`t miss the celebrations
Anita Borg Institute, a non-profit organization focused on the advancement of women in computer science and engineering, has announced the third edition of Women Entrepreneur Quest (WEQ) 2013 which will be held during the 4th Annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing India (GHC-India) conference on November 15. WEQ is a unique contest that focuses primarily on providing a platform for women entrepreneurs to showcase their technology start-ups and interact with top VCs, angel investors, successful entrepreneurs and mentors.