Ameera Shah, MD and promoter of Metropolis Healthcare
While theoretically gender should have nothing to do with becoming a successful entrepreneur, the practical reality in a country like India is that successful male entrepreneurs far outnumber their female peers. The reasons for this is largely systemic. According to Ameera Shah, MD and promoter of Metropolis Healthcare, girls in India are still brought up in a cocooned environment by their families and trained to be risk-averse. To the contrary, boys are encouraged to go out and get their hands dirty. When they grow up, this conditioning cascades into men developing a keener entrepreneurial spirit than women, as entrepreneurship is all about “living with uncertainty”, says Shah.
Consequently, very often, even if a woman is industrious and has a brilliant business idea, her aspirations remain unfulfilled owing to lack of family and institutional support and absence of proper guidance. Shah has been fortunate that her father allowed her to work shoulder-to-shoulder with him as they transformed Metropolis from a single-location pathology lab to a chain of diagnostic centres with a presence in India and abroad. But realising that not everyone may have the same opportunity and to share experiences from her own entrepreneurial journey, Shah has started Empoweress, a platform for aspiring and existing women entrepreneurs to turn to when they seek guidance and support.
“I want Empoweress to become a place where women entrepreneurs can turn to anytime they are stuck,” Shah tells Forbes India. “They can get support and advice here that is in their best interest and not to serve someone else’s agenda.”
Empoweress, which has recently launched its website www.empoweress.in , will give women entrepreneurs access to all kinds of information that can help with their careers–ranging from how to rent premises and pricing products to aspects such as valuation of the business and interacting with potential investors. The information exchange can happen either through queries raised on the website, which Shah or any of the other experts–including other entrepreneurs and management coaches she will be roping in–can answer, or through video tutorials and live Twitter chats.
Shah is also planning one-on-one mentoring for certain select entrepreneurs through this initiative, which is in addition to some ten women entrepreneurs who she already mentors in her personal capacity. Empoweress, which is a portmanteau of the words empower and empress, will also connect women entrepreneurs to potential funders in the form of existing network of angel investors. Shah may also personally invest in some of the business ideas that come to light through this route, and has kept aside Rs 10 crore for this purpose.
Once the platform garners adequate participation, Empoweress will look to also bring together at a common forum once a year and offer them motivational talks from successful entrepreneurs, learning opportunities and a chance to network with each other.
Shah sums up her vision for Empoweress well when she says: “I want this to be a forum that focuses equally on the woman and the entrepreneur in the phrase ‘woman entrepreneur’.” And there are no entry conditions, except one, Shah says. Seriousness.