Catalyst for Women Entrepreneurs
India’s Platform for Women in Business

Catalyst for Women Entrepreneurs (CWE) is a “one-stop shop” for women entrepreneurs to start up and scale up their businesses.

CWE’s comprehensive platform offers access to Information on government Programs and Schemes, Business Skills, Finance, Technology, Trade Networks, and validated professional Service Providers – especially for women entrepreneurs.

We know women well! And we’re successful women entrepreneurs ourselves – well versed in working with local and national governments, as well as international institutions. Our team brings over 50 years of skills and experience in technology, sales & marketing, and entrepreneurship – to make you succeed in your business.
We have created this platform for women entrepreneurs, looking to provide solutions to the challenges faced by women in business living in cities across India. Our solutions are based on recommendations of a study across cities in India with entrepreneurs, government officials, business associations and investors on what is needed to create successful women entrepreneurs. Read more about Roadmap 2020 study findings and recommendations …

Sucharita Eashwar- Founder

Sucharita has mentored and promoted women led entrepreneurs over the last 6 years. Before she founded Catalyst for Women Entrepreneurs in 2016, Sucharita set up and headed WEConnect International in India – a US based organization that connects women owned businesses to market opportunities with transnational corporations.
Prior to this, she was Senior Director at NASSCOM. As Centre Head based in Bangalore, she led three special initiatives tasked to take the IT-BPO industry in India to global leadership. Sucharita started her career with communication agency Ogilvy & Mather, and went on to create successful brands and corporate identity for major FMCG and industrial clients. She has founded two not-for-profit organizations – Madhyam and VOICES – focused on policy advocacy for equitable access to media and telecom. During 1992-1995, Sucharita led the campaign to introduce FM community radio in India and South Asia, and worked for setting up a Rural Development Fund for accelerating universal telecom access.

Kamala Raghunath – Co-founder

Kamala Raghunath is an electronics engineer and founded Gift Links India Pvt Ltd in the year 1986. She is a successful woman entrepreneur and has seen Gift Links grow into one of India’s best and most respected corporate gifting companies. Kamala started her journey with R.K. Industries making clocks and timepieces, soon adding on Gift Links to cater to the vast gifting and promotional needs of the corporate sector. Using her varied experience in setting up and growing her own businesses, Kamala mentors and guides women entrepreneurs in their journey towards becoming successful businesswomen. She is on the advisory board of several organizations, which work towards the development of women entrepreneurs. She travels around the world to pursue her passion – which is to inspire people, especially students in universities to become entrepreneurs.

ADVISORS

Debjani Ghosh

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Debjani Ghosh is former VP SMG Intel and MD Intel South Asia. She started with Intel in 1996 and has held numerous leadership roles over her 21-year career with the company. She currently serves as Additional Non Exec Director on the Board of Yes Bank and is a member of Cisco’s India Advisory Board. She is also a trustee of NASSCOM Foundation and co-chair of FICCI’s Innovation Committee. The last 5 years in India, she has successfully driven a complete reset of the country strategy to shift focus to market creation and strong ecosystem partnerships, positively impacting Intel’s business growth in the country. She was the first woman Intel India Country Head and the first woman President of MAIT. She has been ranked by Fortune India as one of the top 20 Most Powerful Women in Business in India for 5 consecutive years since 2012. In 2017 Fortune India ranked her the 11th most powerful woman in business in India.

FRAN PASTORE

Virginia

Fran Pastore is founder, President and CEO of the Women’s Business Development Council. For nearly 20 years, she has been a catalyst for women’s economic self-reliance through small business training, financial education and professional development. Pastore and her team have helped launch and grow thousands of businesses locally, nationally and internationally. In 2010, Pastore travelled with the Business Council for Peace to help female genocide survivors launch and operate a micro-business. She visited Costa Rica where she trained rural women in financial management and micro-entrepreneurship. In 2011, Pastore was appointed to President Obama’s National Women’s Business Council which provides counsel to the President, Congress and the U.S. Small Business Administration on economic issues important to women. Pastore is a board member and Policy Co-Chair for the Association of Women’s Business Centers and serves on the Executive Advisory Council for Women Impacting Public Policy and the Advisory Board for the Akilah Institute for Women in Kigali, Rwanda. She is also a member of the Advisory Board for Bankwell in Stamford.

SANJAY ANANDARAM

Virginia

Sanjay Anandaram has 28 years of experience as an entrepreneur, investor, corporate executive and startup mentor. His recent involvement has been in companies like redBus (acquired by Naspers/Ibibo Group), Instahealth Solutions (acquired by Practo), Shotang, Shieldsquare, YourDost, Quess Corp and Sattva, among others. He’s a venture partner with Seed Fund, and associated with other early stage funds including a social venture fund.
Sanjay believes that entrepreneurship and an entrepreneurial mindset can transform India: from job creation to innovation to socio-cultural change; he is actively involved with several such efforts.
Sanjay was a founding partner of JumpStartUp Venture Fund, a pioneering early stage US-India cross border VC fund that invested in technology and technology enabled businesses. Prior to JumpStartUp, Sanjay co-founded Neta, a Silicon Valley VC backed software company that became a part of Infoseek/Disney. Consequently, he returned to India and started Venturekatalyst, India’s first online magazine aimed at entrepreneurs.
He has written extensively in publications ranging from the Wall Street Journal (India Chief Mentor) to the Financial Express to various magazines and blogs. He lectures to students of INSEAD and B-schools from around the world and to corporate executives. He is a charter member of TiE Bangalore where he co-chairs entrepreneurship acceleration and education initiatives and is closely involved with NSRCEL-IIMB, NASSCOM initiatives in innovation and entrepreneurship, National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN), Indo-US Council on Entrepreneurship in Academia, the Technology Development Board, Dept of Science & Technology, Govt of India.

SANJOY HAZARIKA

Virginia

Sanjoy Hazarika, a human rights activist, scholar, author, journalist and filmmaker, is the Director of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, an international NGO mandated to ensure the practical realisation of human rights within the Commonwealth. Prior to joining CHRI, he was Director, Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi and also held the Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew Chair. He is the Founder and Managing Trustee of CNES which runs the pioneering boat clinics on the Brahmaputra in Assam.
As a journalist, he reported from South Asia for The New York Times and remains a contributing columnist to various newspapers and magazines. He was also Consulting Editor with The Statesman and The Sunday Guardian.
He is acknowledged as a specialist on migration and issues in the North East and his books include Writing on the Wall, Reflections on the North-East; Strangers of the Mist; Tales of War and Peace from India’s North East; among others. He also appears frequently on television programmes to address issues of rights, advocacy and the environment relating to the Northeast. In 2010, Hazarika was awarded the Dr. Jean Mayer Award for Global Citizenship by Tufts University for his advocacy of issues in India’s Northeast.

SHAILESH SHAH

Virginia

Shailesh Shah has 30+ years experience in leadership roles, managing businesses and providing advisory services. He has worked in companies and served clients in many industries on strategic, operational, financial and organisational issues. Shailesh is the Founder and Senior Partner of Strta Consulting Services, a consulting advisory and an investment bank. Shailesh was Group President at JSW and led a billion-dollar portfolio of businesses including energy, aluminium, cement, IT/BPO and transportation, chaired the Group’s technology businesses and was on the board of Group companies in energy, ports and information technology.
A priori, Shailesh was Director and Senior Vice President leading the enterprise solutions and consulting businesses and also Chief Strategy Officer of Satyam; Managing Director of Watson Wyatt India and global strategy head; partner with Price Waterhouse’s management consulting practice. He has worked in USA, UK, Brazil, Italy, Singapore and India and has served companies and clients on all habited continents. In these roles, he helped shape NASSCOM’s efforts to improve India’s presence in Europe; was also involved with the World Economic Forum leading efforts in strategy, technology and governance; served on the board of Singapore’s Economic Development Council and helped define its “Knowledge Economy” Vision for 2020.
Shailesh has read Mechanical Engineering at Bangalore University, Operations Research at Syracuse University and Business Administration at Drexel University and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, USA.

Virginia Littlejohn

Virginia

Virginia is Founder and CEO of Quantum Leaps Inc. – a trailblazing advocate for women’s entrepreneurship, based in Washington DC.

In the 1980s, she was Vice President for Public Policy and National President for the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) in the United States. She and her team turned the organization into a powerful force for women entrepreneurial advocacy. She organized NAWBO’s participation in the 1986 White House Conference on Small Business, and was one of the primary architects of the Women’s Business Ownership Act – referred to as “the Big Bang of women’s entrepreneurship” in the U.S. – which became law in 1988. Subsequently, she served two terms on the National Women’s Business Council, an advisory body created by the landmark legislation, to provide policy recommendations to the U.S. President, the head of the Small Business Administration and the U.S. legislature.

Virginia has served as Vice President of the World Association of Women Entrepreneurs. She was the OECD’s Senior Advisor for its pioneering best practice conferences on women-owned businesses in Paris in 1997 and 2000 and Istanbul in 2004. One outcome was creation of the Global Banking Alliance for Women, which she incubated.

Virginia founded Quantum Leaps in 2002, with two co-founders. Quantum Leaps has incubated WEConnect International, an organization of leading multinational corporations that want to get women’s business enterprises into the global supply chain. In addition, she serves as Lead International Consultant for the Women & Trade programme for the International Trade Centre, a joint agency of the United Nations and World Trade Organization in Geneva. She also serves as Global Strategic Advisor for Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) International.

Quantum Leaps is now creating national Roadmaps to 2020 and Beyond, focussing on accelerating women’s enterprise development globally. Virginia is the Principal Architect of the Roadmap 2020 impact study for India.

Her numerous awards include: Enterprising Women Hall of Fame; U.S. Small Business Administration’s first Women in Business Advocate of the Year Award; NAWBO’s Susan Hager Legacy Award; and Lifetime Achievement Awards from The International Alliance for Women (TIAW) and America-China Business Women’s Alliance.Virginia has lived, worked in and traveled to more than 85 countries.

CATALYSTS

Anasuya Gupta

Anasuya Gupta is Chairperson and MD of CICO TECHNOLOGIES LTD. She joined the business in 2008 after the untimely death of her husband Amit. Cico is the oldest brand in construction chemicals in India started in 1930. CTL boasts of brand TAPECRETE, the most preferred brand in waterproofing compounds and over two hundred products manufactured and developed in their factories across India. A homemaker, Anasuya took over the reins of CTL and has to her credit buying back 45% of shares from their erstwhile VC partners. Anasuya, has increased the distribution network as well as added infrastructure clients to CICO’s already robust portfolio. She also introduced new age IT tools for quick decision making for the company’s growth.
She is a Founder Trustee of the Amit Gupta Foundation which works for raising awareness for organ donation, health and education for the less privileged. She has been supporting women’s rights and entrepreneurship as an advisor to Dell Women Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) and WECONNECT and has been awarded for her work. She is committed to make a difference to the women entrepreneur ecosystem as Mentor to young entrepreneurs. She enjoys golf and horse racing and has a keen interest in music and theatre.

Aruna Raghu

Aruna Raghu is a Personal Coach and motivates entrepreneurs to create and deliver on ambitious goals for their enterprises. She has valuable corporate experience at NOCIL. She was also the Head of Corporate Customer Engagement at Landmark Education.

Divya Hegde

Founder and CEO of digital marketing agency The Integrated Penguin (TIP), Divya Hegde has built a company from a two-person start-up into a thriving full-service agency. TIP now services clients based in Bangalore, New York, Dubai, Paris and London to name a few. Apart from TIP, Divya is invested in developing heritage properties into profitable and eco-friendly home-stays in Karnataka’s coastal countryside to encourage tourism and foster the local economy. Divya is a Google alumnus with a Master of Science focused in Integrated Marketing Communications from Northwestern University. She has substantial experience marketing to Indian and international consumers and believes in simplifying the sometimes confusing world of digital marketing to achieve sales results.

Harmeet Kaur Bajaj

Harmeet brings in 20 years of experience as an entrepreneurship educator, personal effectiveness trainer, career counsellor, educationist, business health consultant and a passionate entrepreneur. She is the founder of Fermata Training & Consulting organisation. She works with students in the areas of career guidance, personal excellence and entrepreneurship. She works with teachers on personal effectiveness, innovative teaching methodologies and entrepreneurship. She also imparts trainings on parenting as she believes that parents are the first role models for their child. On the corporate side, she works with professionals on customer centricity, personal effectiveness and leadership. She is a certified NLP Practitioner, retail trainer,master trainer on entrepreneurship and career counsellor. She is an alumnus of ISB, Hyderabad. She loves to read inspiring stories and practice yoga.

Kalpana Dube

Kalpana is a Business and Technology Leader with specialization in Application Services and Analytics. She is a certified Corporate Director from Institute of Directors, Bangalore and is a member of the Executive Committee for Institute of Directors, Bangalore. She is also a Business Advisor and mentor for a few Start Ups. She was earlier with IBM as Director, Application Management Services. Prior to IBM, Kalpana has worked with GE Equipment Management, Stamford, Connecticut as Enabling CIO. Prior to GE, she has worked with Tata Consultancy Services as Line of Business Leader – Airlines and Transportation. Kalpana has done her post-graduation in Science from Delhi University. She has done several Management courses from IIM Calcutta, ISB, eCornell and IIM Bangalore. She is a Six Sigma certified professional from GE. She is an avid reader, enjoys reading and listening to Music.

Preeti Sawhney

Preeti Sawhney is a Brand Strategist. For 3 decades, she has helped brands address myriad business and brand challenges. From startups to industry heavyweights, from MNCs to NGOs, from targeting children to understanding seniors, from detergents to biotechnology, her career tapestry is rich with diversity of experience. To each solution, Preeti brings wisdom, common sense and customer insight. Prior to becoming an independent consultant, Preeti worked in Lintas (Lowe) Advertising for 13 years. She studied Mathematical Statistics in Delhi University, followed by a PGDM in IIM Calcutta where she specialized in marketing and consumer behavior- and finally honed her skills at Columbia Business School. Preeti recharges with her family, travel, fitness and reading.

Reenu Singh

Reenu Singh has over 16 years of experience in the Automotive Industry. She has worked closely on projects related to Automotive electronics, OE branded Accessories and mechanical automotive components with Renault, Nissan, Maruti, Toyota, Honda, Daimler, Yamaha, GM, Ford, Hyundai, Skoda, Tata Motors, Force Motors and Fiat. She has worked on navigation aid, telematics, automotive batteries and infotainment business in her role as Vice President at Autocop. She understands the Automotive SME space and is passionate about adding value to the existing SMEs in this segment and helping them transition to the next level. She has held the post of President at SGAI, an SME in the automotive space engaged in manufacturing of forged and machined components to OEMs.
Reenu is the founder and Managing Director of V2Pack Pvt Ltd, a venture which she initiated in September 2016 and is engaged in manufacturing 15Kg Square TIN containers to be used in packaging of ghee and edible oils and Vanaspati. She is also the Director at Metmould Packaging Pvt Ltd which manufactures metal cans for the paints, oil, lubricants and chemicals industry.
Reenu is an Alumnus of Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi and INSEAD Business School, France.

Sanjay Prasad

Sanjay is a Serial Entrepreneur with 26+ years of experience in sales, marketing, technology and leadership roles in the high-tech industry. His expertise lies in process and organisational transformation, technology strategy and implementation, project management, new product development, financial restructuring, customer acquisition and market strategy. He has four successful ventures from inception to successful acquisition to his credit. He also brings to CWE his entrepreneurial spirit that drives his desire is to build an idea from its inception, help nurture and grow it, to a size that would have an impact in the space that it was created to be in. He also sits on the advisory board of various companies in various domains to mentor and provide his management & business skills specially to start up’s and young entrepreneurs in India.

Shobha Rai

With 37 years in the food industry, Shobha Rai brings immense experience as a woman entrepreneur. She ran her own Bakery – Creme Bohemian – and has been consistently featured as a culinary expert in the media e.g. Times of India, Little Black Book, Deccan Herald. Her expertise lies in children’s and wedding theme based cakes and confectioneries. She continuously renews her vast knowledge at prestigious institutes like IBCA, Hebbal institute, Ritz Paris, Wilton Institute L.A.
Shobha has also co-founded Utsav, an event management company, to plan and manage wedding events in India and other countries.
Shobha Rai draws from her rich experience in the food and event planning industries to mentor young entrepreneurs who are setting up new businesses in these sectors.

Shweta Shetty

Shweta has 18 years experience in business development and investment analytics with The Coffee Day Group. She was President of Business Development & Head- International Business at Cafe Coffee Day. She currently is driving the Group’s Charitable Hospital project. Her interests lie in civil rights and social action and economic empowerment and is currently a mentor at Elder Aid a Social Enterprise focussed on the needs of the elderly. Shweta is an Alumni of Mount Carmel College and IIM Calcutta.

Smitha Raja

Smitha has over 15 years of experience in IT strategy consulting, full lifecycle solutions and product development. In her career, she has large engagements involving complete IT lifecycle implementations. She has extensively worked on business and technology functions across verticals like Healthcare, Education, Retail, Insurance and Financial Service. She has played a pivotal role in building Noesys as a trusted and reliable IT services partner. Her core belief is that to build an organisation it is essential to empower its people and provide a differentiated value proposition to our clients. Smitha is an Engineer from University of Mysore, and MBA from SDM-IMD, Mysore.

Sundharesan Jayamoorthi

Sundharesan is a life coach for directors, board mentor & compliance guru. He educates and trains Boards, Senior Management & Advisors on issues relating to Governance, Compliance & Risks. He primarily addresses on subjects relating to Roles, responsibilities, Rights, Duties & liabilities, CSR, Corporate Governance and Corporate Compliance for Board Members. He is a principal Faculty at the Institute of Directors where he has trained more than 2000 members and is rated as a “MUST HEAR”. He is a visiting professor at the Institute of Management & Technology (IMT) and teaches Corporate Governance. He is a regular speaker at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Institute of Company Secretaries of India and many other forums. He has launched an initiative DART, a Round Table for Boards & Advisors alongwith the World Trade Center, Bangalore.
He has published a book titled ‘Board Anatomy’ that brings out the several gamut of Governance, Compliance & Risk.

Vijay Ladha

A chartered accountant and a first generation entrepreneur for 30+ years, Mr. Ladha volunteers as the business mentor with National Entrepreneurship network, Cherie Blair Foundation for women entrepreneurs, Her Entrepreneurship Network and Catalyst for Women Entrepreneur’s (CWE). His skill sets include reviewing business plan and operations, target markets and revenue stream, cost and profitability evaluations, operational costs and processes for running business profitably, understanding accounting as a business decision making tool, taking business to the growth level, understanding the cash flow and fund flows of the businesses and laws of the land concerning SMEs.