Britannia Marie Gold, the third largest biscuit brand in India, recently wrapped up an online jury and awards event as part of its campaign called My Startup. Ten winners were announced for its annual women entrepreneurship initiative, and were awarded Rs 10 lakh each to kick-start their business ventures.
This is the second annual edition of the Britannia Marie Gold My Startup platform, which aims to help aspiring homemakers fuel their entrepreneurial dreams, become financially independent, and transform themselves into job creators.
The initiative also provided 10,000 homemakers access to a customised online skill development programme, in partnership with National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).
The selection process
The 2019 edition of the campaign was launched in February this year, and received over 1.5 million applications from across the country within three months. Entries were submitted online or via WhatsApp and phone (over 25 percent of the entries came in via WhatsApp). The phone number was provided on Britannia Marie Gold biscuit packets.
With the help of an external jury, the Britannia Marie Gold team shortlisted 50 finalists. Due to the pandemic, the next jury round and the felicitation ceremony were held online. Judging criteria included originality and feasibility of the idea, planned course of execution, and the entrepreneur’s drive.
YourStory was part of the external jury, along with Rashmi Daga (Founder, FreshMenu); Aarti Mohan (Co-founder, Sattva Consulting); Shubhra Chadda (Founder, Chumbak); Kanwaljit Singh (Co-founder, Fireside Ventures); and S Venkatesh (Senior Head, NSDC).
The ten winners come from eight states, and plan to launch businesses in a wide range of sectors. They include clothing, healthcare, agri business, and education.
Zarina MV, from Hyderabad in Telangana, plans to start a line of linen baby clothing. Jobs will be provided to several women from economically backward communities in the manufacturing of these products, in turn offering them a steady livelihood.
Shahnaz Tabussum, from Patna in Bihar, aims to launch a reflexology treatment and training centre. The plan is to combine preventive healthcare approaches with training of women employees.
Narmatha Vasanthan, from Thankavur in Tamil Nadu, plans to start a computer training centre. She is a civil engineer and aims to train students while also supporting her family.
Ragini Kumari, from Jamshedpur in Jharkhand, aims to start a flower plantation, which uses eco-friendly products. These include pots made out of cow dung that later turn into natural manure or can be used to prepare firewood.
Shikha Dey, from Durgapur in West Bengal, wants to start a bio-flock fish farm. It will use indoor methods instead of traditional ponds.
Elakshi Phukan, from Jorhat in Assam, plans to set up a homemade cakes and Assamese sweets catering service. The range will include sugar-free recipes.
Deepali Bansal, from Ambala in Haryana, plans to produce a sanitiser for vegetables and fruits. This is in keeping with citizen demand for hygienic and safe food.
Sareena C, from Kozhikode in Kerala, plans to start her own cage fish farm. There are a number of supportive government initiatives, and a community of active women workers.
Sumathi R, from Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, wants to start a professional eye care clinic. She already has nine years of experience as a consultant optometrist.
The grand finale of the first edition of My Startup was held in March 2019 in Bengaluru. Drawn from 1.5 million entries, the 10 winners came from Pune, Bhubaneswar, Namakkal, New Delhi, Kolkata, Baramati, Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Coimbatore. They started ventures in solar energy, tailoring, food products, fitness, and cosmetics.
“Britannia is committed to provide a platform for aspiring women entrepreneurs to present their business ideas and stand a chance to gain financial help and skill development to set off on their entrepreneurial journey,” said Gunjan Shah, Chief Commercial Officer, Britannia Industries, on the occasion of the awards ceremony.
“Becoming entrepreneurs enables our award winning homemakers to also become job creators who can transform many lives around them. One successful woman entrepreneur opens a wide window of opportunities for many, as was proven by our winners last year,” added Vinay Subramanyam, Head of Marketing, Britannia Industries.
“We strongly believe that when women become self-reliant and financially independent, entire families and societies, and eventually the country progresses,” Vinay emphasised. “Our partnership with NSDC will help build a vibrant ecosystem and facilitate micro entrepreneurship amongst women,” he said.
As part of the initiative, NSDC offered an online certification course in entrepreneurship to 10,000 women homemakers from across the country. It was launched for the period April to June 2020 through the eSkillIndia portal.
Topics covered were communication skills, financial literacy, ICTs, and micro-entrepreneurial skills. The courses were offered in English and Hindi, and included formative and summative assessments.
“Through their enterprise and compassion, women today are not only transforming their own lives but are also inspiring others to do better,” said Anuradha Vemuri, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.
Research and insights
The ‘My Marie My Startup’ campaign in the year 2019 was launched on the back of a nationwide survey on ‘Barriers and Triggers to Women Entrepreneurship in India,’ conducted in 2018 (see summary in the accompanying infographic).
“In India, only 22 percent of the women work while the global average is about 48 percent,” observed Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, who was a chief guest for the campaign launch in 2020. “We are in the midst of a massive technological disruption and this initiative creates huge opportunities and redefines our existing boundaries in innovation,” he added.
“Women in India have a great spirit for innovation and the resilience to make the best of every available resource. Without them, it would not be possible for the country to grow, expand and progress,” he emphasised.
“Women constitute 48 percent of India’s population, but as per estimates, only 23 percent participate in the labour force. Skilling initiatives especially focused towards entrepreneurship and the gig economy are the need of the hour,” explained Manish Kumar, MD and CEO, NSDC.
Innovative approaches that create economic opportunities for homemakers without conflicting with social needs help in this regard.
With a hundred-year legacy and a turnover of over Rs 10,000 crore, Britannia Industries is a leader in biscuits and many other food categories, and has a growing presence in 60 countries.
Its brands include Good Day, Tiger, NutriChoice, Milk Bikis, Marie Gold, Little Hearts, and others. It prides itself through slogans and mottos like ‘Eat Healthy, Think Better’ and ‘Taste and Trust.’
Since inception in 2010, NSDC has trained more than two crore people via 600 training partners and 11,000 training centers spread over 600 districts across India. It has also established 37 sector skill councils.