Taking that leap of faith...

NEW WORLD

Taking that leap of faith...

As a single mother of two young children, Anvita Arora knew she was taking a significant risk when she chose to leave the security of academia to start her own company.

An architect and urban transport planner, with a PhD from IIT, Delhi, Anvita had a wealth of academic knowledge but had not faced the challenges of entrepreneurship. However, her resolve was bolstered by a three-week visit to the United States in 2012, under the State
Department’s International Visitor Leadership Programme.

“I hadn’t been to the United States before and I wanted to understand the US because
it has a tradition of entrepreneurship,” says Anvita. “I also wanted to know more about women entrepreneurs. After the programme, I had much more confidence in the choices I had made. In the environment I had been in, I was constantly defending those choices, with people telling me that owning my own business was risky, that I had a good job and why would I want to do this. My time in the US gave me much more confidence — I felt I could make it work.”

She was right. Innovative Transport Solutions (iTrans) Pvt Ltd, the company Anvita founded in 2008, provides consulting services on sustainable urban transport issues to clients like the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, Hyderabad Metro Rail Ltd, Delhi Finance Commission and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi. Through the exchange programme, which focused on women and entrepreneurship, Anvita met 18 women from other countries and had the opportunity to learn about the challenges women in the US face in starting and operating their businesses.

“One highlight was the College of Business at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs,” says Anvita. “We met with the vice chancellor, who was a woman, and there was a lot of discussion about the practical aspects of running a business.”

In Portland, they met women who were entrepreneurs and talked to them about what it took to start their own businesses, how they managed their companies and where they were in their own life cycle when they started their business. Although many people in India aspire to lifetime employment in large companies, Anvita found a different scenario in the US.

“I learned that in the US, most jobs are created by small businesses,” she says. “There, small businesses and women play a large role in the economy; they don’t stay on the sidelines. The perception back home in India, where people generally want to work in large corporations, is very different. But things are changing in India, with more people opting out of the nine-to-five routine and trying their own things.”

Based on what she learned, Anvita made some changes in her work life. “I realised that I enjoyed managing the projects, that I was far more interested in content than some of the other aspects of running a business,” she says. So, she took on other people in the business whose skills complemented her and let her focus more on what she enjoyed.

“I also realised that my business doesn’t have to be big. It’s more important to me to have flexibility between work and home, and to have time with my children. Having that flexibility is one of the reasons I started my own business.”

(Courtesy SPAN magazine)
Trans World Features (TWF)

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