India is one of the fastest growing start-up ecosystems in the world, yet the presence of women within this space is relatively limited. The challenges Indian women entrepreneurs face are many and varied—namely, limited support and opportunities, and a lack of international opportunities. Griffith University’s Going Global two-phase program was designed to enhance Indian women entrepreneurs’ capacity to internationalise their ventures and provide opportunities and tools to work in international environments—specifically Australia.
The project was led by Dr Dhara Shah and Professor Michelle Barker from the Department of Business Strategy and Innovation, and co-funded with the support of the Queensland Government’s International Education and Training Partnership Fund, managed by Study Queensland within Trade and Investment Queensland. Phase One of the program involved two Masterclasses for social entrepreneurs held in India, from which 10 women were chosen to participate in Phase Two – a week-long Bootcamp in Queensland where they were joined by local entrepreneurs in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, and Cairns.
One of the participants of the program, Dr Shaloo Chopra, developed a partnership during the Bootcamp with two women entrepreneurs from Cairns, Yolonde Entsch and Sue Boisen. In India, Dr Shaloo works closely with the Indian Prime Minister’s Special Educational programs including those for women from rural and urban areas, guiding young adults towards becoming professionals, and training personnel from the Ministry of Defence for re-settlement after retirement. She has been a voice in various international events including a United Nations forum on Gender Equality, a seminar on women issues/challenges at the US-Indian Business Council, and discussions at the Department of Public Health at Harvard University.
Giving back to the society is the core value of Dr Shaloo’s institution, Sri Krishna Educational Society, hence community-based social work and grass root development of women in rural India is her ongoing personal commitment.
After Dr Shaloo met Yolonde Entsch during the Cairns phase of the Bootcamp, Yolonde was keen to introduce her to her business partner Sue Boisen, since all three women share a drive and passion for women’s empowerment. Yolonde and Sue had already collaborated to develop a program called WILD YOU (the Women’s Inspirational Lifestyle Design program) – a paradigm-shifting experience for women. It is based on a formula and processes that women can apply to any area of their life to make changes, and achieve life dreams and goals.
It was through sharing their experiences that the trio recognised the commonalities amidst the struggles of women globally. Dr Shaloo excitedly discussed with Yolonde and Sue about bringing the WILD YOU program to women in India.
That was the start of their mutually beneficial partnership.
Dr Shaloo said, “although I had 14 years’ experience working with women from various walks of life, the Bootcamp gave me learnings I never had before. It was meticulously designed and crafted for Indian women entrepreneurs and imparted great lessons, in addition to the fusion of minds and ideas from diverse cultures and nationalities.”
Despite some delays due to COVID-19, delays the WILD INDIA workbook is almost ready for launch.
“Having spoken to many women and women’s organisations, Indian women are excited about the WILD program. We are all hoping and praying COVID-19 restrictions lift soon so that we can start running seminars and workshops in India.”
“WILD INDIA is a reality today thanks to Dhara and Michelle.”
Dr Dhara Shah explained how the Bootcamp in Queensland enabled the Indian delegates to interact with local social entrepreneurs, Queensland Government officials, Griffith University’s Yunus Centre, and also to interact with Indigenous women entrepreneurs in Cairns which was hosted by CQUniversity’s First People’s Think Tank.
“This is a great cross-cultural outcome from our Going Global project and Michelle and I are so proud of Shaloo, Yolonde and Sue and the WILD INDIA initiative.”