“CWE is a complete ecosystem, a nurturing platform to enable women to start up their businesses and scale them successfully.”
(Founder, Catalyst for Women Entrepreneurship (CWE)
Time is changing. From running finance firms to logistics, construction and security companies, women are dabbing into fields that have always been bastions of male domination. However, a lot still needs to be done to encourage more women to become financially independent. Many women are coming to the forefront to motivate women; Sucharita Eashwar is one such woman who is selflessly promoting and mentoring women entrepreneurs since 2011. She is on a mission to create and uplift 50,000 women in pan India to start their businesses and grow successfully.
Let’s hear the journey of Sucharita and about her venture that promotes women’s entrepreneurship in her own words.
1. Give us a glimpse of yourself and walk us through your journey of becoming an entrepreneur.
While working with women at different levels, I realized that the fundamental gap in women’s empowerment is financial independence. There are millions of skilled educated women in cities across India who wish to start their own businesses. What they need is the flexibility to look after their families and earn an income, without going out for a fixed-hours job. Unfortunately, they don’t know how to start a business and take it to heights.
I started talking to entrepreneurs & business leaders and found that they too agreed that there was a need to fill this gap. With them, I developed a strong mission and plan to make women successful entrepreneurs and bring them into the mainstream business industry.
Four eminent industry leaders came forward as Ambassadors and backed me with Rs 5 lakh contribution each. We registered Catalyst for Women Entrepreneurship (CWE) as a not-for-profit entity and got into action.
2. What hurdles did you face while building your career? How did you overcome them to succeed?
In my earlier career, I faced quite a few challenges: relocation due to marriage, maternity pushing me to choose between career growth and time with my baby. However, I learnt to create new pathways to fulfil my aspirations.
In 2016, when I was planning CWE, some skeptics said: “Business is gender agnostic. Why do women entrepreneurs need special hand-holding?” Hence, we did a study with 400 women/men entrepreneurs, policymakers, business associations, and investors. Our study “Accelerating Women Entrepreneurship in India” identified 5 major challenges women especially face – Access to Finance, Markets, Enabling Technology, Information and Networks, and proficiency in Business Skills. In addition, the lack of Access to Mentors and reliable professional service providers for business compliance, legal, financial, and other professional services, was expressed by women entrepreneurs as a significant challenge.
These findings validated the need and I decided to go ahead and build CWE as an ecosystem.
3. Briefly describe your company and the products or services you are offering.
CWE is a non-profit organisation focused on promoting women’s entrepreneurship across India. CWE is a nurturing platform to enable women to start up their businesses and scale them successfully. We are currently working with 4500 women entrepreneurs through online and offline support, business skills training, mentoring, and access to finance, new markets, and enabling technology. CWE is industry agnostic and supports women in any industry sector, manufacturing, or services.
*Mentoring by industry experts & successful entrepreneurs *Connects to Finance *Advisors *Corporates * Professional Service Providers *Global Markets
Our networking and ongoing capacity building include:
Business Series training workshops *Mentoring Roundtables *CWE JAMS – peer learning/networking and role model meetings *Founder’s Cafes – business opportunities and support on challenges faced
4. What is your company’s USP? What marketing strategies do you adopt to stand out from the competition?
- Other organisations offer some elements of what we cover with our online and offline platforms. Currently, no organisation offers CWE’s entire range of resources and services across India.
- We’re successful women entrepreneurs ourselves. We know the challenges of being female entrepreneurs. We’ve launched and run corporate initiatives and also mentored women to become entrepreneurs. We love running these initiatives and more on a much larger scale.
- We have 100+ years of experience with sales/marketing, finance, entrepreneurship, and teams. We work with profit and non-profit entrepreneurs. We also partner with local, state, and national governments and international institutions.
- CWE has a rich pool of 23 Catalyst Mentors, including Industry & business leaders, and entrepreneurs who are committed to supporting women entrepreneurs. We have 24 local, national, and global partner institutions that provide access to finance, markets and networks.
- CWE’s initiatives are grounded in research, ensuring that they are evidence-based and effective in addressing the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs.
- Shed light on the clientele of your company. How do you ensure a successful client relationship?
CWE caters to 4500 women entrepreneurs in Tier 1/2/3 cities across India and supports them with resources to start or grow their businesses at any stage of their business life cycle and across all industry sectors – from deep tech to agri/food products, contemporary handcrafted products, to health, wellness and education offerings.
They are skilled educated women who have chosen to start their enterprises, look after their families and community, generate employment and contribute to the GDP of India. Many have got patents for their innovations in health, education, and environment, and Made in India products, got funded and reached global markets.
CWE stays with them through their business lifecycle to help them achieve success in their next goals.
5. Shed light on the mission of the company. What is its long-term strategic vision?
- Equip 50,000 women pan India to start up and grow successfully
- Select 500 women-led businesses to accelerate and create global success stories
- Promote 100 role models to inspire thousands of women
It lights me up when I think of the difference this will make to India and the world!
Every entrepreneur employs an average minimum of 5 employees, and women tend to employ more women. That means employment for 2.5 lakh persons. These women are creating innovative and sustainable products & services which will surely make a huge difference to the environment and population.
6. Mention the awards and milestones received by you and your company so far.
- Niti Aayog 2020 recognition: 100 Women Leaders Transforming India
- Chatham House Working Group Member for Report on “Women Entrepreneurs After the Pandemic” 2020
- Womennovator 100 Women of Asia Award 2021
- Nokia Women’s Day Recognition to Woman Leader 2021
- Women’s Economic Forum 2019 Award for Exceptional Woman Leader
- Global Women Leaders Award 2023 by World Women Leadership Congress