“When we were living in Texas, I grew up watching my mother taking up pottery after quitting her corporate job in 2006, a move she resorted to so she could spend more time with my brother and me. While she started pottery in our garage as a way of de-stressing, she soon became skilled in it, and a full blown venture was born,” says Maanya.
She recounts, “I watched her journey and how she evolved from being a woman who quit her job to becoming confident enough to start afresh. It inspired me in many ways and since then I was drawn towards women’s empowerment. It became clear to me that while financial independence is often ignored, it is important,” she notes.
It wasn’t only her mother who served as an inspiration for young Maanya. The family moved back to India when Maanya was 10 and she began seeing many more instances of how women who were not financially rooted were often oppressed.
“I knew of domestic workers in my own family who were trapped in abusive relationships and couldn’t even get out of the home to work. They did not have any safety net to fall back on. My great-grandmother herself had had a child marriage and this story had always been an eye-opener for me,” she notes.
The young girl began connecting the dots in the back of her mind. She understood that it was only by making women financially independent that she could help them feel empowered.
This was the start of the idea of Incuba-Naari —a platform that formally took shape in 2020.
Maanya says she began with “pestering” Indian women who owned small businesses on the internet. “I would approach them asking if I could speak to them for an hour and through this time trace the trajectory of their journey, how they started out, factors that helped them, the business specifications, etc,” she adds.
The idea at the time, she explains, was simply to help these women. She managed to conduct 40 of these interviews. As she started publishing their stories on Instagram, the page soon gained traction and her friends’ mothers and relatives started reaching out to her expressing an interest in sharing their story.
In September 2022 Maanya organised her first mentorship programme through Incuba-Naari, which witnessed experts, entrepreneurs, and founders from all walks of life guiding the participants with regard to their individual ventures. A few of the mentors included Kavitha Mohammad, founder of WonderLearn, Sabari Ayyappan, CRO of Dynamite XDT, Anantha Narayan, founder of AlbertDali.
“For three months, we conducted one-hour Zoom sessions twice a week, wherein the speakers would guide the women on what strategies to adopt, how to run a successful venture and focus on personalised advice,” Maanya notes.
She adds that the mentorship programme was an opportunity for her to see women-led ventures in a different light. “We often miss out on the hard work that goes behind these ventures. They are not simply WhatsApp businesses, but very real solid ones with women striving to create something equal,” she says.
She adds that fulfilment of what she had set out to create came in the form of many of these women sharing how financial independence had transformed their way of life.
The story has been extracted from: https://www.thebetterindia.com/308120/student-maanya-singh-starts-incuba-naari-incubator-for-women-entrepreneurs/