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Lavanya Bahuguna


Apra Kuchhal Shares Her Impressions From The Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit’16

  • JWB Post
  •  March 15, 2016


It was one proud moment for Jaipur when city’s Social Entrepreneur, Apra Kuchhal represented India on an international stage. Apra was invited by the US State Dept. of Global Mentoring Program and Vital Voices for Fortune Magazine’s Most Powerful Women’s Gala Dinner PAN Asia.

Sharing the grand stage with names like Eros’ CEO and Managing Director Jyoti Deshpande, Jaipur’s , Founder & Chairperson, WE Care,  was one of the panelists discussing why women fail to gain financial support from their environment. The session named ‘Profit with Purpose: Leadership in Global Economy’ was curated by the City Bank.

Rebutting the burning question, Apra said, “They asked me about the scenario in India if Indian women are provided with enough funds to start their businesses or not. To which, I told them how we have struggled our way through this age-old barrier and are on our way to becoming financially independent. Banks and financiers don’t trust women and believe that women don’t have the kind of caliber men inherit. I mentioned how this global issue was among the top concerns of our women.”

“I informed the audience about this case when the banks are ready to grant loans to women – if it is taken in their husbands’ names. And then I questioned them if this funny thing happens in their countries, as well! They laughed”, giggled Apra.

Kuchhal was also asked about the CSR scenario and how pro-Indian women are at using social media. Her answer surprised the listeners. She said, “When I told them that apart from the urban women, the suburban and most of the rural women know how to use their phones and apps like WhatsApp, calculator, etc.; they applauded. I very well know, the interior parts of our country are yet to taste the tech-flavor, but we’re doing well.”

When we asked Apra about meeting Jyoti Deshpande, her smile broadened trying to put her experience into words. She remarked, “One of the reasons I’m feeling confident after this event is definitely Jyoti. The lady who didn’t let Polio affect her big career dreams is going to be my inspiration for eternity. Other women who touched my heart were Chelsia Low, Specialist at National Instruments, and Haruno Yoshida, President British Telecom in Japan.”

She then began telling about how Chelsia Low, being an Illustrator, could make it big in a male-dominated field – Automobile. She is currently the Chief Designer in the Global Advance Studio of Ford. Chelsia is an apparent example why women must not doubt their integrity, even if their careers aren’t fitting the bill currently.

Later, Apra elucidated how this panel discussed what women lack when it comes to realizing their dreams. “It’s because we are way too calculative. When we’re offered a promotion, we go overboard thinking ‘How will I manage.’ On the other hand, men demand their promotion because they consider themselves worthy of it! They are always in a ‘Yes’ state of mind, unlike women. Women should become the go-getter,” added Apra.

Apra went gaga over this new Japanese concept that Haruno Yoshida spoke of. It’s called ‘Womenomics.’ Haruno explained how the Japanese govt. is now focusing on bringing the Japanese women back into working sectors so that the country can uplift its economy. By encouraging women, the Japanese govt. is hopeful to bring about a change in its GDP. A curious Apra thought, if taken seriously, this concept can do wonders in India. What do you say?

Very thoughtfully, she said, “Not every Indian woman can manage to go out and take up a full-time job. The journey of breaking the old barriers will take its course of time. Meanwhile, we can encourage women to start working from home. In this way, improving their financial condition and India’s economy can go hand in hand.”

Another concept that left an impact on Apra was the debate around China’s Slowdown Economy. Apra unfolded the flow of words from the summit, “They spoke of how China has too many rules and regulations on every economy-related step. They are quite strict, as per my understanding. This has led to their economy’s downfall. What can we learn from it? That, it is okay to relax. Being casual is okay. It is okay to be human and not go technical all the time.”

Interestingly, after listening to the other Asian women leaders, Apra sensed a wave of positive attitude flowing inside her towards India. She quipped, “We hear and speak of the not-so-happy side of India. We have started to complain a lot, and most of us have turned into pessimists. I was one of them, too. But the moment I learned what the Burmese, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Chinese women go through, I have developed gratitude towards my country. We may be lacking in many spheres; we may perhaps have got many walls to break, but we’re steadily arriving at our destination. Other women have a long-long way to go, trust me. While many countries are still waiting to celebrate their first female leader, we Indian have so many to get inspired from.”

How else did this summit help Apra exhaust her gray perceptions? Apra smiled and said, “I think I’ll launch a couple of social projects. Something related to safeguarding the women and providing a proper mentorship to the youth. There is no right time to begin with good things. This is the time, now is that moment. I am not going to wait anymore for our policies to change or society to alter. I have started my initial work, and I am going to introduce these projects to the public very soon. I will make sure what I’ve learned, I will pass it on to others. Knowledge is like air; you can’t pack it in a room. If you do, you will suffocate. If you let it flow, it will help you grow healthy.”

And, does she have any tips for aspiring women entrepreneurs straight from the summit? She broke down these commands into below points:

  1. Profit with purpose
  2. Innovation with purpose
  3. Growth with purpose
  4. Designing with purpose

She continued, “Keep these guidelines in your mind while you try to make your company’s sustainability its DNA. Have the power to take risks so that you grab the opportunities. Meanwhile, sustainability can be easily achieved.”



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