Social media biz women meet

Social media biz women meet

An app developed by a Bengaluru company is helping women, especially those who quit their jobs because of maternity, to get back and run online businesses

Hemalatha (seen with husband) received an ‘emerging entrepreneur’ award at an event in Bengaluru on Wednesday. She was working as a professor but quit.

Women in the Indian workforce are getting fewer, and one of the main reasons for it is motherhood. The percentage of women in the country’s workforce fell from 36 to 24 per cent in the past decade, a study says.

Which is why the recent Meesho Mission Rise Women Entrepreneurship Summit in Bengaluru was a refreshing change. It was attended by about 250 first-time women entrepreneurs leading social commerce in Bengaluru.

Meesho Mission Rise is a multi-city roadshow that honours and celebrates first-generation women entrepreneurs who run online businesses via social media channels like WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram using the app. A large part of these entrepreneurs are women — homemakers and mothers who dropped out of the workforce after childbirth.

Metrolife spoke to some and found a bunch of motivated women who wanted to balance financial independence with familial responsibilities. 

An IT professional who holds a BTech degree, Soumya Hari had to discontinue working after she had a child. “One of the main problems I faced was work timings. Doing something like this gives me the flexibility to work from my house, at my own time,” she says. Apart from reselling, Soumya sources products from local vendors and sells them on the website.

“I’m not only a housewife now, I’m an entrepreneur. I can support my family and it feels great,” she says with a smile.

An MCA postgraduate and ex-professor at Presidency College, Hemalatha had to discontinue her job after delivery. “I would like to go back to work but I have to take care of my two kids and so it is physically impossible. My father was upset when I had to leave my job. My husband, though supportive otherwise, did not want to me to work since no one was around to take care of the children,” she says.

Work from home was the only option she had. “Which is why I decided to join this platform, because doing something is better than just sitting at home idle.”

In the past six months, Hemalatha says she has earned around Rs 1 lakh, by way of margins and bonus. “I am looking after my family and managing to earn something at the same time. I feel very good,” she says. “My father spent so much for my education. He is happy now,” she adds.

Jully Shah completed her MSc biotechnology in forensic science and even got through to CBI Junior Research Fellowship in Delhi but her parents didn’t want her to go so far.

“After which I got married and had my first child in 2016. A few years later, I started looking out for jobs — primarily work-from-home options considering I had to divide my time between home and work — but couldn’t find anything suitable. I came across Meesho by chance, four years ago. My family is not supporting my choice as they think I should be doing a regular job since I am highly educated but I am happy with what I am doing,” she says.

Jhansi Anthony was working in Dubai initially. When she came to India for a holiday some years ago, her family got her married off. “After that, I had my first child,” she says.

Her husband was not in favour of her working as he felt she should be taking care of the child. “He was working on the night shift so he felt that if we both worked, the bond between the child and the parents would be lost. It was he who suggested the app to me,” she says.

Having been a working woman, Jhansi was finding it difficult to just sit at home and decided to give the app a try. She now primarily resells kurtis, saris and salwar suits and is one of the star performers on the platform.

 

For small businesses

Meesho CEO Vidit Aatrey says the app is a culmination of a desire to start something for small businesses. “We built a simple mobile-only website to bring small businesses online. Later, we saw that most users were women running a boutique-style business on WhatsApp,” he says.

They could not rent physical boutiques because of high cost, fear of low sales and family pressures.


Meesho CEO Vidit Aatrey

But they had the status of being ‘local influencers’ whose opinion mattered when it came to fashion and lifestyle recommendations in their social circles. Meesho builds on that and gets them to be resellers, where they pitch women-related fashion and lifestyle products among their friends, family or social media circles.

“Most of our users are housewives between 25 and 35 years. And we have observed that women from the east and south part of the country do very well, as compared to their counterparts in other parts, because they are much more literate. They don’t require much training -- they just download the app, read the content and get started,” says Aatrey.

City initiative

Meesho is a Bengaluru-based company with its head office in Koramangala. It says Facebook has recently invested in it, and one crore resellers have signed up on it.

Other reselling apps similar to Meesho are Glowroad, Shop101, Wemore, Milmila. Most of them are headquartered in the city.

 

How it works

Meesho helps in connecting wholesale suppliers, who sell products such as apparel, home decor products and accessories, with customers in different parts of India. The gap is bridged by ‘resellers’, who are mostly women. They push the product through WhatsApp, Facebook groups or word of mouth.

 

In numbers

According to Viewpoint 2019 by Avtar, a company that promotes diversity and inclusion at the workplace, close to 48 per cent of Indian women quit work midway to attend to familial commitments.

Of them, 45 per cent take a break for motherhood challenges, and 35 per cent because of maternity.