The largest Indian gathering of current and aspiring women startups assembles in Kerala to take stock
From Anand Parthasarathy
Kochi August 2 2019: The Kerala Star-up Mission ( KSUM) is facing a peculiar problem. Of the 2000 startups it has supported, only a hundred are founded by women. Yet this is a state where women form 45% of the workforce. To address this anomaly, KSUM organised a day long summit, yesterday, bringing together aspiring startups, mentors, investors and successful women entrepreneurs.
In parallel, the event also saw 20 women startups participate in the “She Loves Tech” national grand challenge to win the right to compete in the global startup event to be held in China in September.
“Young women innovate in college, but seem to give up after they leave college” observed KSUM CEO Dr Saji Gopinath, “ While Kudumbashree has empowered 4.5 million, Kerala has the potential for a similar number of tech startups”.
“Make technology overcome gender insensitivity”, he suggested
Rashmi Bansal, bestselling author of “Follow Your Rainbow” – inspiring stories of 25 Indian women entrepreneurs – was on hand to inspire a new millennial generation of Kerala women.
Virginia Tan, CEO, She Loves Tech, in a video link from China, said the KSUM was their first partner in India. The organization will host the winner of the Kerala leg –- Dr. Nusrat J M Sanghamitra, Founder, CEO, CyCa Onco Solutions --and winners from 20 other countries in the finals.
Kerala IT Secretary, M Sivasankar said 15 % of startups in the state have women in the lead, but there is huge head room to improve this. “We are in a listening mode” he said and looked for ideas to bridge the gender gap in entrepreneurship.
Think local, dream national
Among startups at the Women’s summit were are Kochi based women who are proving CK Prahlad’s mantra: there is fortune at the bottom of the pyramid. They are innovating in two key areas in the city: food delivery and job exchange.
Poornima Viswanathan has founded Job Veno?, a clearinghouse from small and nonorganised jobs, largely targeting women. The app available at www.jobveno.com has attracted 1 lakh downloads,80,000 jobseekers and 20,000 employers.
Shameela Nafih is cofounder of Meal’D which supplies wholesome lunch and dinner to individuals and corporate within a 10 km residence of Kakkanad, Kochi … all through an app that can be down loaded at www.getmeald.com.
Both are looking for angel funding to take the next step … to more cities in Kerala and outside.