At the first glimpse, the lively interaction between the spirited women entrepreneurs at the Indo-Israel Women Entrepreneurs looked like a reunion of long-lost friends. The attendees shared their stories of struggles, second doubts and coming to acknowledge and hone their creative ambitions. The sea of women simultaneously nodded their heads at every instance someone chose to call out the misogyny and inherently traditionalist societies in both India and Israel that have often tried to keep them from seeking their own truths.
A challenge is a stepping stone
Panelist and agriculture specialist Nitzan Solan has created Living Box – a modular and sustainable system that lets you grow vegetables in low costs in any part of the world. It uses the concept of hydroponics and grows vegetables in water instead of soil. She admits that every opportunity arises from a challenge – a desire to cause a tangible change. But at the same time, it is important to pragmatically analyze if the idea can sustain itself as a business proposition.
“I have my system operating across several countries and fifty locations yet it is somewhat a struggle convincing investors to fund my project. Having your finances in place is crucial because in my case, to make my product less expensive and more accessible I’ll need a mass production line which wouldn’t be possible without having sufficient investors on board,” she informs.
Now is a great time to be an entrepreneur
But entrepreneurship is booming and has come a long way in both the countries. Entrepreneur and leadership coach Jasmine Kalra who had founded her company 18 years ago says that she had often had to hide the fact that she was the founder of her start-up. Earlier the instinct in the industry was to go by experience – the more years, the better. But nowadays, there’s a shift to let young and fresh minds to come up with new ideas and take the industry by storm.
She adds, “You cannot just sit pretty anymore – someone else can just come and disrupt your business in a jiffy. But I fear there is also a growing tendency to start something new because you have the fear of missing out – that should not be your only motivation because it would be insufficient to scale your business in the long run.”
Follow your dreams, whatever it takes
Vardit Kaplan, who worked as a diplomat with the Jewish Embassy in different countries over two decades, her first instinct was to live by her parents’ words. Both of them being holocaust survivors they urged her to steadfastly pursue her education rather than the inherent entrepreneurial spirit of starting something on her own. It wasn’t easy to break free from the notion that the world can take everything from you, barring what’s in your mind.
“Finally, I took a leap anyway and started my own real estate and Tourism Company. But none of that would have been possible without having a great work partner who supported me through thick and thin. During my bad days and moments of doubt, she encouraged me to keep trudging forward and conquering my dreams.”
Connect and converge
Entrepreneurship is also about creating opportunities for those around you and panelist Sheila Lanka’s company Direct Create is a testament to that. She has been able to spearhead and create an online forum which allows artisans, fashion designers, and artists to meet, collaborate and co-create. This could easily allow for an architect in Paris to connect and work with an inlay worker from Agra.
“An entrepreneur has to know its audience and that has to feed into your product development. Right now, we are at the testing stage of our android app. Although we are struggling a bit in the technological department as the initial costs are huge, our primary goal is come up with an interface which allows us to tap into the creative potential of a human.”
From a biker to the author of books on java programming, a theatre actor to a baker and then software engineers and airforce officers to a woman whose survival of cancer urged her to start counselling fellow patients – the event truly saw a diverse group of women taking copious notes, networking and feeding off each other’s creative energies. It started a dialogue of resilience and inventiveness among women entrepreneurs which will hopefully have a ripple effect across the world.