Industrial Entrepreneur and former president AWAKE
She is a product of the NGO that she helmed for a while and her priority is giving back what she took from the community. This entrepreneur, who took up the reins of a small unit post the death of her husband, now exports to several countries. Praveen Bose narrates her journey
It’s not easy to run industry. That is the simple take of industrialist and entrepreneur Revathi Venkataraman. A no-nonsense businesswoman who runs two small scale industrial units, as the then President of the non-profit NGO Association Of Women Entrepreneurs of Karnataka (AWAKE) was among the women entrepreneurs who “woke up” women in many parts of Bijapur. AWAKE made women there, who remained cooped up in houses, to wake up to their potential and become entrepreneurs.
The initiative was a government-funded project where women from rural areas and low income groups received technical support from AWAKE to set up businesses. When the project was implemented in Bijapur in north Karnataka, it brought the voice of the woman out of their homes.
While the mandate was to create 100 entrepreneurs, they managed to create 267, where they had received funding from SIDBI or Small Industries Development Bank of India.
Venkataraman has time for all these and more despite running two industrial units. She exports her products to Finland, China and Italy and says she sees a failure rate of just 1.5 per cent.
She had taken over reins their only unit in Bengaluru in 1994 with two machines, after her husband passed away. Today, she has 15 machines across two plants.
Venkatraman herself was trained through AWAKE. Starting her career at TELCO where she met her husband, she has set her eyes on creating an incubator for women entrepreneurs in Bidadi, an industrial area, near Bengaluru. The incubator will have space for a tool room in addition to space for entrepreneurs from various sectors.
“I am looking for a funding of `30 crore over the next one year,” says Venkataraman, who hastens to add that while she had initiated it, others are helping her.
Her most immediate mission is trying to get `15 crore from the Centre for the incubators.