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FICCI - The Talk on Women Who Have Paved Their Own Path by Chhavi Rajawat

Hyderabad, 16 January 2018: Smart Cities are not possible without smart villages first said Ms. Chhavi Rajawat, the first MBA Village Panchayat Sarpanch in India speaking at a talk “Women who have paved their own path” organized by FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) here at Hyderabad today. Ms. Chhavi Rajawat, Sarpanch of Soda village, Rajasthan said that there should be integrated development. It is when people become aware and start asking questions that change happens, she said. We live in the comforts of the cities and often forget what that the majority of our country is comprised of villages. Everyone is directly or indirectly affected by villages, she said. The program was organized to give an opportunity for our members to listen to their success stories and get inspired, said Ms. Kamini Saraf, Chairperson, FICCI Ladies Organisation Hyderabad Chapter.

Addressing the gather, Ms. Chhavi said that the Panchayat Raj system is not empowered in the real sense. Panchayats are not empowered and the elected representatives are not able to deliver. Transparency and accountability are required. Pan India solutions will not work, individual need based solutions are required. Panchayats should be given funds to use at discretion. Right now they are dependent on the approvals from bureaucracy. She said that the youth of her village

We are not focusing on channeling the energy and enthusiasm of our youth. Sharing her personal experiences she said that the youth of her village are of great help. Giving details, Chhavi Rajawat said that when she was elected in 2010 she focused on infrastructure development. And in her second term, in 2015, she is focusing on education and skill development. She opined that agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry should be taught in schools so that the rural sector will become stronger. Her next focus is primarily on agriculture viz., warehousing, process units, market linkages and education.

Dalit entrepreneur Kalpana Saroj, Chairperson, Kamani Tubes Ltd., addressed the gathering comprising of FLO and YFLO members, women entrepreneurs and professionals narrated her life story and accomplishments. The path to success was difficult but not impossible said Kalpana, while speaking about her trials and tribulations from earning Rs.2 day to running companies doing business in thousands of crores.

Kalpana narrated her story of being born in poverty in a small village in Maharashtra to becoming one of the most sought after entrepreneurs in the country and winning the Padma Shri. The audience listened in awe as Kalpana recounted her journey from a small village to Mumbai. She came to Mumbai looking for livelihood and worked at a sewing unit for Rs.2 a day. It was her sister’s death due to ill-health for which they could not afford proper treatment which was the turning point in her life, she said.

Kalpana Saroj took a small loan of Rs50,000 under the Mahatma Jyotiba Phule scheme and started a boutique. And later on she turned to social work also helping people start small businesses by getting loans.

She became an industrialist when she was approached by workers of a factory that was closed for 25 years. Kamani Tubes company at Mumbai was the first factory that was under worker management and had fallen in bad times. The company had a debt of Rs.116 crores, over 140 court cases, two trade unions, pending salaries of workers, etc. It was a problem nobody was willing to take on but Kalpana successfully bid for the company in 2006. Later, she revived the company and cleared the dues of Rs.8.5 crores of workers. The company is doing very well now. Today, Kalpana is the chairperson of a company; director of many companies and is an inspiration for lakhs of women across India.

29-year-old CEO and founder of JetSetGo, Ms. Kanika Tekriwal was another speaker at the talk. She shared her story of success in setting up India’s first marketplace for Chartered Jets. She said coming from a traditional orthodox family, she had to convince her parents to go to college, to do MBA, to start her business, etc. at many stages. Cancer was the best thing that happened to me, she said. It is when I was fighting cancer that I got resolve to do what I wanted to do.

Today JetSetGo either manages or has exclusive marketing contracts for 16 aircraft--ranging from Falcons to Hawkers to Challengers with 7 to 18 seats. it has the largest fleet in India, with 40 per cent market share and offices in 32 places including Hyderabad and Vijayawada and operated in 260 airports in India. The company made it possible that the journey from Delhi to Mumbai costs just Rs.10K on a private jet. She aims to make private flying in India more transparent, economical and efficient. JetSetGo is soon going to expand to Middle East, Indonesia and Africa with few aircrafts, she said. 

She shared three lessons that she learnt in her journey with the audience. First is that if you believe in yourself nobody can stop you from achieving anything. Second is every adversity is an opportunity in disguise and lastly no one is going to tell what can and cannot happen, never take no for an answer, Kanika said.

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