Entrepreneurship – from the perspective of Women Empowerment

Stories, what do they do?

It inspires us, encourage us, bring us to action that create a change in our surrounding, of which we are a part of. there are countless stories or better say case studies both successful or failed from which we motivate or learn to do something new. Today we will be talking about one such entrepreneurial stories, that inspired and helped me as an entrepreneur.


Finding an opportunity in the problems surrounding you, or any trends that you have noticed, or any gap in the market that can be fulfilled by your simple yet innovative idea can work as the base of your own new start-up idea. The startling news for you is that the start-up ecosystem of India is now the 3rd largest in the world.

One such entrepreneurial story or case study comes from the brand – PHOOL.co, founded by Mr. Ankit Agarwal, an IIT graduate from Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. The grass-root of the brand story starts from the holy ghat of river Ganga, when Agarwal and his friend – who had visited his home and expressed his interest to see the Ganga ghat on the day of Makar Sankranti, the Winter Solstice. They were aghast, watching the people drinking water from the river contained a whole lot of muck and bottling it up, as it’s the tradition. The muck mostly belonged to tanneries, factories, sewers, as you would have guessed, but a lot of it also belonged to the colourful flowers and our own worshipping in the temples. We humans are really the main roots of major environmental issues.

Through research it was found that those flowers or phool contained pesticides & insecticides that get mixed with the water and makes in toxic and murky, further more decreases the oxygen level, that is a threat to the marine life. And here was a vision and mission or an opportunity seen by Mr. Agarwal that was to reuse and repurpose the floral waste from the temples and convert it into something viable that gave birth to the brand – PHOOL. It took a year and a half to experiment, develop, pitch the idea to the stakeholders and a lot more to start making incense sticks and cones from the recycled floral waste. The brand is heavily invested into research and development (R&D) and have also developed biodegradable packaging & bio-leathers. The fact that the incense sticks and other products are rolled out of temple flowers, worked as a huge catch for the brand, as quoted by the founder – Mr. Aakash Agarwal.

It all started on the bank of the holy river Ganga, that solved many issues. Such as –

• Water pollution

• Proper disposal of waste

• Employment generation, especially for women – Women empowerment

• New developments like – vermicompost, biodegradable thermocol, vegan leathers, non-toxic holi gulal. "I am impressed by your Phool enterprise in India which is perfect example of circular economy. Keep setting the standards for others to follow." – as quoted by Paul Polman, the CEO of Unilever, the brand is also generating employment for women belonging to the marginalised background.

STEP TOWARDS WOMEN EMPOWERMENT 25-year-old Sujata Devi, abandoned by her husband along with her 2 kids countered her unwilling father to join the job saying, ab nhi niklenge toh kabhi nhi niklenge (if I’ll not step out now, then I’ll never step out). She joined the company through words of mouth but the factory was on the outskirts, making her unable to go there on the regular basis. Later, a regular bus service was arranged for her and the other women from the same locality by Mr. Agarwal.

Sujata wants to educate her son and daughter and wants them to become engineer and IAS officer. Some of the women like Mamta were apprehensive about whether they’ll be able to make perfect incense stick or not but now they enjoy doing this hand-craft so much, that they won’t stop making the sticks till the lot is completed, even if they are thirsty or hungry. They love and embrace the satisfaction brought by their hand-work. The women folk enjoys the happy and joyful environment of working together, that brought them the feel of self-satisfaction, calmness and especially made them realise their self-worth. Another employee Sabana Khan says – its not about just earning money but also about working with good people, who are very different still resembles each other. Sabana had lost her father when she was 16 years old and now, she is living with her mother and 3 siblings. She had to drop out of the school to earn for her family. The earning of these women have increased up to six folds and they are mostly invested in making rolls of incense sticks and vermicompost from the floral waste. These families are now living a sustained livelihood and their children have started going to school for education. The women folk of the company are provided with other facilities like insurance, travel facilities, and they even have their own bank accounts.

Employment does not provide just the money, but also the feel of self-satisfaction, self-worth, the sense of independence, capability to every human. And start-ups and entrepreneurs work as an extended bridge towards the upliftment, not only for women but for everyone, if there is not gender discrimination, especially against women.

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