Stories of 12 homemakers who, in spite of having no prior experience in business, managed to build successful empires defying all stereotypes are featured in a new book. The women featured in "Millionaire Housewives: From Homemakers to Wealth Creators" are diverse, both in the circumstances that propelled them towards entrepreneurship and in the challenges they had to face in their journey. If for Savita Chhabra, vice chairperson of Hygienic Research Institute Pvt. Ltd, entrepreneurship happened on account of unfortunate events striking her hitherto secure world, for Ambika Pillai, one of the most well-known names in the world of hair and beauty, it was the need to be financially independent that led her down this path. For others like celebrity chef Nita Mehta, entrepreneurship was the result of a niggling sense of wanting to do something beyond her traditional role as a homemaker. From being first-generation entrepreneurs to taking on the challenge of running a business legacy despite their inexperience, there is a range of stories in the book, written by Rinku Paul and Puja Singhal and published by Penguin India. Told from the voices of the women, the stories are also varied in the fact that they took to myriad industries - from those thought to be more woman-oriented to those which were considered absolute male bastions. According to Chhabra, she faced a lot of trust issues in the beginning, but being a woman entrepreneur comes with its own set of advantages. "I believe the strong emotional connect I have been able to build with my teams can be put down to my being a woman and the empathy that comes with it," she says. For Pillai, her biggest learning as an entrepreneur has been that one cannot just sit back and look at the creative aspect of business alone without worrying about the financial aspect. "I believe that handling money doesn't come very easily to creative people sometimes and we are happy handing over this responsibility to someone else.
Fact is, we need to be far more astute financially - this is the only way we can safeguard our own interests," she says. The biggest milestone in her career, Mehta says, is when, at the age of 18, her son expressed his desire to join her business. "I must confess that most people discouraged him, some even openly making fun of him, stating that as a man he would not want to be associated with the business of cooking," she says. Veena Kumaravel is the CEO of Naturals Beauty Salon India Pvt Ltd that has a turnover of over Rs 250 crore. The most important thing for women entrepreneurs, she feels, is to not let fears and guilt stop from living the dream. "If you are passionate about something, then you should definitely pursue it," she advises. The other entrepreneurs featured in the book are Sandeepha chain of restaurants director, Patricia Narayan; founder and president of Computers International Sarada Ramani; CICO Technologies CMD Anasuya Gupta; Key Software Solutions founder Jyothi Reddy; designer Anuradha Pegu, chef and TV show host Rakhee Vaswani; Anjaneyap Global CEO Sundeep Bhandal; and Pabiben Rabari, founder of artisans' enterprise pabiben. Com.