KOCHI: Women entrepreneurs are surely making their mark in the startup ecosystem not only in the state but all over the country. From among the 1,500 startups in the state, around 190 are founded by women with approximately 45 of them making a mark not only in the domestic circles but also globally.
If these numbers don’t provide the big picture, the huge turnout of proven and aspiring businesswomen at the ‘Women Startup Summit’ which was held at the Integrated Startup Complex at Kalamassery on Thursday will dispel any doubts. The meet comes in the backdrop of Kerala having 13 per cent women participation in the technology startup ecosystem and the state government’s proactive steps. Express features successful startups founded by women.
Waferchips unveils portable ECG device Biocalculus
A hospital visit was the trigger that prompted Sonia Mohandas, founder and CEO of Waferchips Techno Solutions Pvt Ltd, to come up with a handy and affordable medical device. When it comes to health, we shouldn’t make compromises, said Sonia. “Many times, when a patient complains of chest pain and is rushed to hospital, tests conducted come out as inconclusive.
This is because the patient reaches the hospital after the episode. To make a correct diagnosis, ECG readings need to be taken while the patient is experiencing palpitations or pain,” said Sonia. But that doesn’t happen, she added. This led Sonia and her husband to develop a device called biocalculus. “It is a portable ECG device that provides health readings.
It’s designed specifically to be used as a personal health device, a sleep monitor and athlete tracker,” she said. The device is paired with a mobile app in order to track the readings, she added. The readings are tracked and saved onto a device memory. These records are then synched in a fast-paced manner using USB On The Go. She and her husband launched the startup by raising funds via bootstrapping. Waferchips today has cornered funding to the tune of Rs one crore.
Bhava Social Ventures: Working to empower women
Bhava is an example of how the young and enterprising are turning themselves into small economic powerhouses, said Deepa Ananthapadmanabhan, co-founder of Bhava. “The startup aims to bring about a social change while promoting entrepreneurship among women,” she said.
The startup, which was launched with a seed fund of Rs five lakh (through bootstrapping), today provides employment to around 60 women in Muhamma in Alappuzha. “We wanted to make an impact on re-cycling and up-cycling, making eco-friendly products and women empowerment.
Waste is a huge problem today. By initiating a movement that recycles or up-cycles what people condemn to the pile not only saves the environment but also provided a means to earn a livelihood for many,” she said.
After floods, when clam fishers found it difficult to get a decent catch due to the accumulation of silt, Bhava stepped in by setting up a cloth bag making unit in Muhamma. “We utilised discarded sarees, bedsheets, curtains and tablecloths to make bags. Besides cloth bags, we also trained women in making books using recycled paper, seed greeting cards, reusable steel straws, paper pens and bookmarks made of cloth,” said Deepa. The startup made a very good impact during the recent Biennale.
Trashcon: No more dumping; eradicating threat of disease
Waste is money! And there are only a few who have realised this. Nivedha R M, founder and CEO of Trashcon, is one of those very few who are turning their fortune around besides helping protect the environment by converting waste into useful products.
“It will be true to say that I might be the only woman in a field dominated by men,” said Nivedha, who is based in Bengaluru. She developed an automated machine that helps people get rid of waste right at the source.
The automated machine is called a trashbot, which segregates mixed municipal solid waste (MSW) containing food waste, plastic, cardboard, meat, blood, diapers and sanitary napkins into biodegradable and non-biodegradable components up to an efficiency of 99.6 per cent using its patented technology.
“Once segregated, the biodegradable component can be recycled into biogas or manure while the non-biodegradable component can be pyrolysed into oil. This ensures zero landfilling,” said Nivedha.
According to Nivedha, Trashcon has been approached by Kudumbasree. “The Indian Medical Association’s Palakkad chapter too has evinced interest in Trashcon and has approached us,” she said.
Of Women-By Women-For Women
Recently, the state government approved a proposal from Saji Gopinath, CEO, Kerala Startup Mission, which aims to boost the number of women entrepreneurs in Kerala. Called ‘Women Entrepreneurship’ under the Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme, its features and components are the following:
- Total startups in Kerala-1,500
- Number of startups founded by women - 190
- Percentage of startups running successfully- 80%
- Number of startups that have made a mark - 45 approximately
Seed Funding Support
- This scheme is for extending moratorium period of seed funds provided by Kerala Startup Mission to two years from one year. The following are its features:
- Fast-track soft loan against the purchase order.
- Fast-track soft loan as advance for projects received from government departments.
- Technology transfer support for women-led startups with a ceiling of Rs 10 lakh.
- 10%seats earmarked for women tech enthusiasts in international exposure programmes.