I believe entrepreneurship is an attitude; it’s all about being innovative and networking. Its an attitude which can be nurtured through a lot of experiential learning.
I believe being an entrepreneur is equally challenging for both men and women; except that in the case of women, there could be more social challenges, which sometimes come into their way. When I was faced by such social challenged, my family gave me tremendous support. My one and only role-model was my father. I never had any resistance from my family; my father always encouraged me in my pursuits. My father was an entrepreneur himself, and when I said I wanted to start a business, he said ‘no problem at all; go ahead!’
My second biggest strength was my network. My network helped me grow big in earlier days. When I was staring my business, people around me would humiliate me for my idea of producing ingredients out of a factory. They thought women were only capable to make papads or pickles out of their kitchen alone. I felt a bit discouraged, and that’s when my network of friends and acquaintances came handy. My advice to young entrepreneurs is to get to meet more people and network a lot. Your visibility is equally important as an entrepreneur. These are some factors I find missing in women, that they prefer not to participate more in networking events. A successful entrepreneur has to have both, a networking tactic and an influencing tactic.
Before becoming an entrepreneur, I had a lot of exposure to the corporate world. To me business was not a strange word; it’s something I look forward to be in. An entrepreneur is never independent. He/she is always interdependent of his clients, bankers, employees, etc. And you need a lot of exposure from a very early age, to be able to take the right decisions. And the right mentors help you give this good exposure. I had a lot of mentors who would guide me from a very early age. I never hesitated to ask them in case I needed help. Its only when you admit to yourself that you do not know and ask for help, will you get help.
Gender was a non-issue because of the way I was brought up; but this may not be the case in all families. Some families have a lot of protective approach to girls. In such a case you should admit to your mentors that ‘my family isn’t allowing me. I was hoping to get permission, but I haven’t.’ Only if you admit, will mentors like me understand you and try convincing your families understand your passion and vision for life.
I have worked with women in different context and hence have always felt that women need to be given an economic opportunity. As a result, generating employment for women has been my goal. I started my business to produce tamarind powder as a food ingredient, and even after 31 years, I remain to be the sole producer of this ingredient.
I endorse Jagriti Yatra 300% because all what I am in my social or business life is all because of my exposure. And Jagriti Yatra gives so much of exposure to young men and women; sometimes this is all that they need to bring out the best in them.
Mrs. Madhura Chatrapathy is the founder-president of AWAKE (Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Karnataka). She is also the trustee Director of Asian Centre for Entrepreneurial Initiatives –ASCENT, she is an entrepreneurship champion working across Africa and Asia regions. Her successful enterprise of 31 years - Food Associates Bangalore, is known for its unique range of customized food ingredients all over the world. Mrs. Chatrapathy has been a role model and panelist for Jagriti Yatra.