Lakhwinder Kaur: Her Victor Industrial Security employs over 700 guards
Like Garcha, 35-year-old Captain Mamatha in Hyderabad also found her true calling on sheer whimsy. She wanted to become a doctor but idly applied to the AP Flying Club (now AP Aviation Academy). It normally takes a student about one year to get a pilot's licence but it took her five because there were few training aircraft. "A flying school with good infrastructure was the need of the day," she remembers. So she applied and got permission from the Director-General of Civil Aviation in '95 after two years of sustained negotiations. Today, her Flytech Aviation Academy is spread over 275 acres at Vanasthalipuram and shows an annual turnover of Rs 2 crore. It has 300 students and 60 staffers and boasts of 10 Cessna and Beach Barron aircraft for training.
It's every woman's dream: to earn her own money and then save, invest and spend it the way she would want to. But some, like Garcha and Mamatha, dream bigger. It's not just about being financially independent but creating wealth for others. It's not about being gainfully occupied but providing employment to others as well. Big or small, famous or unsung, there are several such women entrepreneurs spread across India who are contributing significantly to the country's economy. The most remarkable aspect, however, is the range of areas where they have seen opportunity and money. From bartending to fuel production, from conservation to wedding management, they have rushed into uncharted areas with spunk and aplomb.
- After years of research, this December Alka Zadgaonkar, a 40-year-old organic chemistry professor in Nagpur, will finally begin commercial production of 25,000 litres of fuel a day from plastic wastes. She has received a patent from the World Intellectual Property Organisation and the product and process have also been certified by the Indian Oil Corporation. She had to invest nearly Rs 2 crore into R&D but when the plant goes on-stream, it will have a turnover of nearly Rs 5 lakh a day.
- Trained at a catering college, Mumbai-based Shatbhi Basu has been an F&B manager, an advertising executive handling food accounts, even a cocktail columnist. Eventually, she decided to concentrate on what she loved most: mixing drinks. Now she runs her own bartending academy and holds an annual bartending competition. She also takes up consultancy projects to set up bars, works out bar themes and cocktails. "It's a small enterprise...we barely do a few lakhs every year, but it's mine, something I love doing," she says.
- Thirty-five-year-old Mehr Sarid wanted to combine her passion for design with her experience in the hotel and hospitality business. She set up a one-stop shop for weddings called The Wedding Art that manages everything for the D-day, from the flowers to mehndi, bands and pandals right down to the food.
- From a garage, she has moved to a 4,000-square foot office. From 12-13 weddings a year, it has grown to managing 74 weddings a year. She has even done the arrangements for fancy events like the wedding of the Princess of Kuwait and another for a family of diamond merchants in Belgium.
- Brinda Somaya, 56-year-old Mumbai-based architect, set up her practice, Somaya and Kalappa, in 1978 with her sister Ranjini Kalappa. They started off working from home and now Somaya has three offices and over 50 professionals working for her. A major portion of her practice is new work—she has done state-of-the-art IT campuses and corporate buildings, but she has a special passion for conservation. "Every architect has to be sensitive to what has gone before," she says. She has restored the West End Hotel in Bangalore, the Cathedral School and St Thomas Cathedral in Mumbai.