We are not just another ‘women’s group’.
So say Sonal Dang and Ginny Kohli Gulati, founders of the Indian Business Women Network Inc. (IBWN) in Melbourne.
IBWN is a not-for-profit organisation that was created to foster professional, business and personal networks among a diverse group of Indian businesswomen.
“We do more than just business card swaps,” President Sonal, a real estate agent, told Indian Link. “We network, educate and celebrate success with a view to sustainable and inclusive development.”
IBWN embraces businesswomen of all ages from the Indian subcontinent from various industries and professions as long as they bring to the table drive, commitment and a supportive attitude.
It is designed as a platform to elevate and enable, according to Vice President Ginny, Director Aroma Magic Aus & NZ, a natural products and skincare company, as well as owner of Charismatics Events.
“Our aim is to understand the specific barriers Indian women in businesses face, provide solutions to address them and support each other to create strength, collaborate and take risks,” said Ginny.
Created in March 2017 with a handful of like-minded women, IWBN has managed to attract a strong response from the community within no time.
A new committee of volunteers has recently been selected to manage its expansion. Shwetali Sawant (Marketing Manager), Prerna Joshi (Business Development Manager), Maddhu Kapoor (Administration Officer) and Nitu Grover Ahuja (Marketing Manager) will help steer IBWN’s success.
Sonal and Ginny claim that they encountered several objections whilst creating IBWN with speculations that ‘this will not last long’ or it will be just another ‘women’s club’.
“This is exactly the mindset we wished to change,” said the two unanimously.
“We are amazed at the diversity of business that Indian women are involved in,” said Sonal. “From print experts to landscape artists to food equipment providers, our members are into a variety of ventures and it is inspirational to see their courage and commitment.”
“Our meetings, held every six weeks, provide opportunities to share experiences and to discuss a range of topical issues,” added Ginny.
In an increasingly complex market, many Indian businesswomen find it a challenge to achieve commercial success through marketing. Sharing experiences, ideas and expertise at this new platform has helped them in providing innovative and creative solutions to their marketing needs.
“We provide a platform for these entrepreneurs to connect and share knowledge. We encourage the recommendations and relationship building that results in mutual growth,” continued Ginny.
Their visions of a successful trajectory also include recording referrals, as the whole premise of IBWN is to build relationships through networking and brand promotion.
Member engagement is increased through guest speakers, motivational talks, life coaching and the recently initiated IBWN Entrepreneur/Business of the Month nominations.
Rohini Saini, proprietor of Fork & Fingers and Shwetali Sawant founder and owner of the Indian Bazaar have been recognised for their innovative efforts in recent months.
At a recent event, keynote speaker Barinderjeet Kaur, Founder/Director of Empower Your Destiny, defined growth as ‘helping others grow’, a thought that reflects IBWN’s main focus. Another dynamic speaker Diksha Khanna from Branded Chocolates and Confectionary and Amazeology Australia shared her insights into how to systemize the business in order to scale it.
These events went down well with members. Maddhu Kapoor of Sparkle Health & Beauty, observed, “I have learnt a lot from each meeting I’ve attended, from the inspirational journeys of women around me. I am thankful to IBWN for offering a platform for women like us who are hungry for their dreams to come true.”
Another member, Ritika Sablok Saini of Print Experts & Plants N Petals echoes these thoughts. “It is inspiring and motivating to see like-minded women entrepreneurs from our community. I really enjoy attending the meetings as I get something new to learn each time. A big thank you to the committee panel for making these meetings so interactive and informative for all of us.”
It’s not all work and no play as the members often get together to mark special occasions such as Christmas and Mother’s Day, holding social eights and end-of-financial-year events.
Currently all the meetings are held in the western suburbs of Melbourne; however, there are talks to expand to other metropolitan areas in future.
Word of mouth and social media are responsible for a networking platforms growth, however IBWN’s core strength lies in its participation.
It thrives due to the involvement of an enthusiastic group of individuals brainstorming strategies, overcoming macho culture, encouraging and empowering each other.
We certainly hope IBWN will be able to create entrepreneurial space for Indian women to make valuable connections, share advice and move forward together.