I am Arindam Dasgupta and my dream is to take the fruits of development to every corner and citizen of India. I want to make every underprivileged youth of India independent and confident by turning them into successful entrepreneurs. I aim to spread numerous micro enterprises across the landscape of India.
I was born in a middle class family in Jamshedpur and did my schooling from Loyola School, Jamshedpur. I moved on to Delhi for my graduation and studied commerce from the premier institute of Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC). Though I was very passionate about working for the upliftment of my country since childhood yet during my years in SRCC I got interested in locating my work in the rural areas of India. After my graduation I worked as an executive trainee in Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in their exports department. After one year in CII I joined Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA) for my post graduation. In IRMA I not only learned the discipline of management but also got to see rural India very closely. I decided to work in the eastern parts of India and took a job with Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDI) and got posted at Guwahati. Thereafter some of us friends came together and formed our own organization named “Dhriiti – The Courage Within” and have been promoting entrepreneurship and micro enterprises in various formats since then.
I do not like to accept the status quo without testing it. Just because the societal trend is towards a certain direction I won’t follow it. That attitude in me has made me an entrepreneur which gives me the freedom to try out new things in the society and give them better solutions for todays problems. I like to work outdoors and am not interested in a 9 to 5 desk job. My strength is the ability to visualize things very differently and have the courage to give shape to that visualization. My weakness is that I don’t prefer to come in limelight. I like to handle the whole show from backstage.
I am quite an unconventional person with an unique stream of thoughts and ways of working. Ultimately I want become a politician because that is the highest form of social entrepreneurship where you can really change the lives of millions of people.
Hiresha was born in a family with Defence background. Since childhood she was a versatile excelling in sports, studies, drama. From being an University topper to a national player in athletics and sports she was a real star.
But life took a different turn when Hiresha got married and had a family. But, around 2003 she took the decision to become an entrepreneur. Since then she has been a serial entrepreneur and has witnessed many hurdles. It was after 10 years of being an entrepreneur, that Uttarakhand was devastated by the floods in 2013. Like many others Hiresha got involved in the rehabilitation work. The conditions were really bad where the men were completely wiped off and the women were struggling to rebuild their lives with their children. They were resilient fighters without any means of livelihood.
After a lot of research and working at the grass root level Hiresha knew that the climate of Uttarakhand was ideal for Mushroom Farming and as an entrepreneur she saw the yawning gap between demand and supply. She decided to teach these women Mushroom Farming and to do that effectively, she first learned Mushroom Farming herself and then trained over 2000 women in the hills.
Hanzen International is a Social Enterprise model where farmers are trained and marketing support was provided to the farmers. Hiresha started her venture in a small servant quarter with the produce of 10 kg/day. In 2015, she decided to upscale it to an environmentally controlled 500 kg/day production unit.
And as she went on, seasonality of mushrooms, managing the crops and financial crunch were some of the many challenges that she had to face. But constant introspection and love to work with the women kept her going.
Today Hanzen produces the best quality of Mushrooms which are chemical free and rich in natural taste. Hanzen is now ready to bolster their Infrastructure and tap the Export Market. Hanzen had also launched other value-added products of Mushrooms like Pickle, Papad, Biscuits, Tea and Soup. All these things are produced by the village women who in turn are getting regular and steady income at home.
Hiresha describes, her journey in WE Can to be a fantastic one and a huge learning experience.She revisited her plans, roadmap, Competitors and target. In Hiresha’s words,
“I got very good Support from my Mentor who refined my Business plan and helped me to do SWOT analysis of my Company. I could reconfirm my plans. Lastly WE CAN gave me the confidence and reassurance that I needed”.
When Geetikaa walked into the WE Can India Workshop, she was already running a successful enterprise for almost 10 years. She joined the program because she wanted to learn the business precision. Her enthusiasm, dedication, persistence and diligence was addictive.
Geetikaa had started her entrepreneurial journey in 2007 with the objective of becoming more self-reliant. She came to Dehradun & wanted to rejuvenate as well as restructure herself again. And at this crucial juncture, she met Gauri, a young woman, oppressed and abused asking for help. Perturbed, she decided to help her, by initiating a small venture. As Geetikaa herself knew knitting & crochet she thought it could easily be turned into a financial empowerment process for the women working from home.. Soon other women joined them.
Today, Gauri International, produces and markets, stylish, trendy, high quality, handmade woolen garments. These garments keep out the chill, yet doesn’t add to the bulk. A small cluster (60) of women are trained in hand knitting and crochet. The items cover all age groups starting from infants to children, teens, working women and elderly. Geetikaa caters to a market which is price sensitive but appreciates the hand knitting and the social impact created. Gauri International takes part in Dastkar, Blind School , Trade Fair & Dastkaari Haat exhibitions in Delhi and has received wide appreciation for her products and core ethos of the company. All designing is done by Geetikaa herself.
It hasn’t been an easy journey for Geetikaa. From not having any knowledge about Business, to cash crunch, she has witnessed it all. But what drives her even at 60 years, is her child like eagerness and enthusiasm to learn. And her willingness to give it all that she has for her enterprise. Its her dream to establish Gauri International, as a successful enterprise, which keeps running independently.
As she walks into a room full of serious Women Entrepreneurs, you would usually assume her to be just one more college kid trying to be an entrepreneur. But she is different. Ayushi, is the brain and the face behind Helpingo. As Ayushi describes herself, “ I am an engineer by profession, a designer by choice and an entrepreneur by passion. She loves to live her life as ‘experiences’ and running a business has been one of her biggest experiences.
Back in 2012, after completing her graduation she moved to Bangalore to work with Cisco. But her knack to work at small exciting places pushed her to quit her job. It was post her stint in Myntra, that she took the plunge into the startup world.
Helpingo was promoted in the year 2016. It is a platform that simplifies management and collaboration for educational institutions. Ayushi dreams to make an ubiquitous education management and collaboration tool for students, teachers and admin within college campuses, thus building a self-sustainable venture.
WE Can India has been an exciting and a meaningful journey for Ayushi. In her words “I started with a product half baked and have reached the stage of cracking my first paying customer. Everything happened while I was in the WE Can India program.” Her mentor, an expert in the IT field helped her see the entire business from a fresh perspective and challenged the basic fundamentals of her business, which helped Ayushi concretize the business.
Ayushi feels there is a long journey ahead and she is prepared to give it all. Amidst figuring out the right product-market fit, go-to-market strategies and pricing plans; Ayushi is still that vivacious girl, who is struggling and learning how to make her way out to go about building a successful business.
Amol is a young, highly energetic Women entrepreneur who believes in exploring different paradigms of creativity to create holistic solutions. Guided by the same intention she did her graduation in Architecture and worked in the industry to make dream spaces a reality. But the urge to expand the horizons of knowledge and understanding continued and she pursued her Masters from School of Inspired Leadership where she also got a chance to represent the Institution at M.I.P. Italy where she pursued course on Entrepreneurship and Innovation management.
Working as Research Assistant for Social Innovation Program she got an amazing opportunity to work with the Ministry of Rural Development on the draft of Govt. Program Aajeevika Skills. Her journey with Innovations just didn’t stop there and her paper on ‘Juggad’- Combining Manufacturing Industry and Agriculture got published in the journal of Indian Management Institute. Innovations happening across the globe kept her intrigued and soon she realised that a huge gap exists between the innovations done and the applications. She realized that innovations are happening everyday around the world, but they do no reach the people where they can make the maximum impact. She also realized that very few innovations cross the idea stage, even fewer reach the product development stage and marginally low innovations actually reach people and there is no single platform which can provide an apt holistic environment for innovations to grow and develop. It was then Ink-Ya Collaborative was born, to address and bridge this gap. Amol envisions to create inspired, enriched and empowered lives through collaboration, participation and engagement of people from different walks of life.
Ink-Ya celebrates the spirit of ‘Creations and collaborations’. It is India’s first all-inclusive platform for Innovations which follows whole system approach to bring all the stake holders of Innovation together to spear head the process of innovation from idea to adoption. It follows a 5 part approach : Engage | Inspire | Enrich | Empower | Connect. Ink-Ya is on a mission to bridge the gap between innovations and applications by bringing Innovators-CHANGE MAKERS, young knowledge seeker- CONNECTORS and experienced, seasoned people-ENABLERS together to spear head the process of innovation getting inspired, enriched and empowered from each other and creating new success stories.
When Amol joined WE Can India program she was working on the development of Ink-Ya. But she believes getting selected for the WE Can Program added an altogether different vigour to the efforts. In the program, she got to analyse her enterprise from different perspectives, even the ones she was not aware of earlier. And she believes this experience went to another level when she got a chance to get mentored by former Chief Peoples Officer of Flipkart Mr. Mekin Maheshwari. And when we asked her to share how We Can India Program has impacted Ink-Ya and its growth, in total enthusiasm she replied, “ Before joining We Can, I was getting amazed every day looking at the kind of Innovations happening throughout the world and wished to share them with everyone but after becoming part of this program I am amazed, exhilarated and excited beyond words because now I know that the wish has come true and I will be able to make these innovations reach people.
And this remind me of an urdu couplet:
Zindgai ki asli udaan abhi baaki hai,
Zindagi ke kain imtehaan abhi baaki hain,
Abhi toh naapi hai muthi bhar zameen humne,
Abhi saara aasmaan baaki hai”
Latika became an Entrepreneur when she was 22 years. After coming from a tech sales background, her obvious career choice was in IT field. But she soon found out that it was the business where her heart lied.
But, with all this, she has had her own set of ups and downs, good and not so good experiences, right and not so right decisions that did burn her fingers but on the other hand left her with all the learning. It was in 2014 much against her parents’ wishes, she started her own edutech venture. But as destiny had designed for Latika, her first venture failed. It was around then when she was going through the worst phase of her life, distress and challenges were all that she was engulfed with. On one hand, she had to pay up debts and on the other hand, her health started deteriorating.It was her family and friends who supported her and never let her down. She had taken an off from the startup ecosystem to sit back and analyze as to what went wrong with her previous venture. While she was recuperatinging with her health and trying to understand the flaws and mistakes that she had committed, her sister came up with the idea of Campus Vibes. She was now back into form to support her sister Chitrakshi’s dream (who is just 18 years old) of coming up with Campus vibes and thus started adding fuel to her aspirations. The spark in her sister’s eyes made her regain the determination and vigor to start afresh. And this marked the launch of Campus Vibes, wherein Latika was ready to launch her 2nd venture Campus Vibes all because of her sister Chitrakshi (who actually conceived the idea) along with her partner in Crime; her best friend Arun Yadav(a Legal and Finance Evangelist and a super cool buddy).
Campus Vibes, is a digital media platform of students, by students and for students globally that encourages them to construct, share, scribble, learn stories and experiences with the people around. It has been created with an intent to become the right platform for brands and advertisers to reach and engage with young India in the most creative and unique manner. At Campus Vibes, the team curates and serves the most loved and shared user generated content that is voiced, opinionated, contented, entertaining, inclusive and addictive for the youth. So in short Campus Vibes describes themselves as “We are trying to be BFF with young India”
When Latika walked into the WECan Program, her expectations were pretty low and her earlier decisions didn’t pay up well. But Wecan gave her confidence in her own self that not all decisions are wrong some can be beautiful too just like WECAN. She expected WE Can workshop to be the “same, boring Startup Gyan session”. And by the time the workshop got over, she wanted it to continue for the 7 more days. In her words, “post one week my perspective, my thinking, my energy level, and my confidence in my own self not just changed but transformed me completely”. every single person associated with this WECAN Nidhi, Poonam, Anirban, Sameer, and Debaleena she just has one line to say “Thanks, Yaara, you have no idea of what you’ve done”.
The only thing that Latika, dreams of is making Campus Vibes big, and this time not for herself but for her sister and best buddy!
She is sassy yet classic. She is lively and her eyes brightens up when she is smiles. She is a new mom and an entrepreneur. In my first telephonic conversation, she told me she was a “Pahari”. Kiran is a free spirited, bohemian yet chic woman, confident yet an avid learner. And she is the promoter of Loaferjama.
“Clothes for the free spirited woman… ageless, fun, and a head-turner!” aptly defines Loafer Jama. LoaferJama is a true reflection of Kiran’s spirits. It is a boho chic lifestyle on-line store selling trendy and comfortable clothes, and stylish accessories. The label and the products capture the essence of India’s vibrant past, and its chaotic present
LoaferJama is a #sisterhoodpact between three women from the highlands of Uttarakhand, India whose current avatars encompass being a kindergarten teacher and army wife, a development specialist and mother to twin toddlers, and a young aspiring social worker headed off for her masters and aspiring to work in the villages of India.
LoaferJama, in Hindi, means clothes for the free spirited”, which defines the studio and its essence of boho chic styling using natural fabrics. The studio, located in a village in the heart of India’s capital, New Delhi, came into creation very recently in Feb 2016.
LoaferJama clothes are a mix of Indian and western silhouettes in natural fabrics, with emphasis on light, summery fabrics like cotton, jute, malmal and khadi, in bold colours, weaves, and dyes. The fabric used, has been curated through travels and living across different states of India. Working with natural fabrics and artisans reenergizes the LoaferJama team as they aspire to capture the soul of India into their designs. The label’s products capture the essence of India’s vibrant past, and its chaotic present. The aim is to make ageless, fun clothes that will never let you be invisible!
She is a chemical engineer by design and entrepreneur at heart. . Hailing form a family of doctorates, Nidhi Pant from Mumbai, has successfully carved out a niche for herself. Her diverse experience in the areas of sustainability and development, both in India and abroad, has been a key determinant in bringing deeper insights and perspective in the work she does.
Nidhi Pant is the Co-Founder of DesiVdesi at Science for Society (S4S). Her current role as has given her the unique opportunity to build India’s fastest growing food technology enterprise.Nidhi believes she has learnt to see life not only through a lens of science, engineering and formulae, but also through pictures, sounds, landscapes, faces and more.
DesiVDesifoods is a Healthy food brand, providing nutritional and delicious snacking products for the health conscious people on the move. DesiVDesifoods offers Vegetable Chips and Fruit Chunks which are Not Baked Not Fried Not Riasted with zero oil no preservatives and gluten free.
“WeCan program has helped me find the Sense of PurposeLearning from the best trainers and first generation experienced entrepreneurs – Arindam and Debalena and my mentor – helped troubleshooting. I also got grave clarity in my vision and a strong foothold in ideation and execution. It is an incredibly exciting and rewarding platform in terms of the powerful learnings from other women and also form strong support group , making friends for life .It’s always a breath of fresh air to grasp opportunities, I would never miss this unique life transforming chance.Would like to thank various stakeholders for initiating this wonderful program – I feel I have found my sanctuary”
With more than a decade of storytelling on her back, Rituparna Ghosh is the Founder of Your Story Bag (YSB). A compulsive storyteller, and always sniffing for a good story to tell, Rituparna feels that her past life as a journalist and television producer taught her the power of good stories.
Your Story Bag is a Storytelling, Training and Consulting Company that works with varied audiences in helping them ‘Discover Expressions, Emotions & Life Through Stories.’ From children, to teachers, professionals, entrepreneurs and corporates Your Story Bag helps people harness the power of stories by finding the storyteller in them! From story sessions and performances, to workshops, training programs and customized story solutions, Your Story Bag in a short span of time has gained considerable repute.
But Rituparna’s journey hasn’t been an easy one. She was on the peak of her career when motherhood called on her. She was so much in love with her work that even during her maternity leave, she kept working remotely. But when she rejoined, it was perceived that her priorities had shifted, and she was replaced overnight without an explanation. This was the lowest point of her career. Right on the brink of depression, she made a final attempt at salvaging herself. She decided to become an entrepreneur.
She decided to tell stories. Orally. In an attempt to gain confidence, to face people, to perform, to be judged and critiqued she started telling stories. And with every story she told she pulled herself back from the abyss. Storytelling had rescued her.
Since then she has never looked back. Even though she and her family have been through patches of financial struggle, Rituparna’s unwavering belief in her vision has helped her persevere through the toughest moments. With a supportive and caring family backing her at every step, Rituparna’s has worked harder. There have many naysayers in her life, people who have ridiculed storytelling and her passion for the craft. If asked, she would smilingly say, that she would change none of it at all. The setbacks, the lack of knowledge and people’s apathy in her vision to make lives better with stories have only motivated every day. Today, Rituparna, has created the brand of YSB and she herself is the USP of the brand. She is working doubly hard to change the storytelling landscape in India where future generations of storytellers can look at it as a bankable and sustainable career. And the only way she can do it is by creating a bigger market for storytelling.
If there is one truth that Rini wholeheartedly believes, it is the fact that she was born to be a creator. But don’t get me wrong, there are extremely strong businesswoman vibes there, from skills that she has actively cultured, she says. But in the heart of hearts, she loves design, a good story and a good scenery.
Tribana is a direct culmination of that, blended with her extremely eclectic personality. A design-led brand, Tribana was launched with an aim to connect with the urban nomadic lifestyle. Tribana embodies modern travellers who move from one place to another absorbing the cultural awesomeness as they move. Herself raised across 6 cities within India, Rini feels that each place left a story in her life and most of these stories have become a part of her narrative. “I connect with so many communities and their idiosyncrasies, I feel like I am a unison of various cultures I’ve been exposed to. And that constantly keeps evolving as I see more of the world! Tribana is an artful expression of a person like that.”
Tribana also carves a niche with people born out of a strong sense of wanderlust. “Collecting memorabilia was a serious hobby for me whenever I travelled as a child. And more often than not, the memorabilia would often be a beaded bracelet from Goa or a tribal shawl from Nagaland!”. If we can recreate the sense of a place and build and association through our designs, while also creating a collective of people who believe in one world, that is people who embrace all cultures and their quirks, we would have then found our tribe!
For the debut collection of Tribana, she retold the story of the lotus flower and its various meanings within Hinduism & Buddhism. One such design was the Chakras-inspired choker, which was then given a very contemporary, high-sheen look. Tribana currently retails only jewellery through brick and mortar stores across 4 major cities in India.
“With the support of WE Can incubator and my Mentor Pranay, we hope to create our brand e-commerce store which will be like a window to many cultures!”