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Innovation, in any organisation or establishment, remains at the core of development and progressive goals envisioned by the leaders. A unique innovation gives that competitive edge to the companies that cannot be easily replicated by others and help them in becoming market differentiators and many times market leaders. It drives the business to further levels and keeps the engine running for the company.
Mrs Siya, Gowomania, had a similar thought process, leading her to continuously evolve in her journey of growing the company to new heights. The main theme behind her innovation ideology was that she did not want to stick to one thing or one idea. She insisted on making continuous changes in the way they operate and conduct their business and even the products that they offer. An informative conversation with her revealed that she was of the idea that ‘Changes are the only thing that drives innovation and helps in improving our product and brand in the market. Without continuous, progressive changes, we will reach a condition of stalemate’.
Gowomania did not restrict itself to just the online community that it had started initially. They also ventured into the offline modes of the meeting by arranging WebN meets. WebN meets are essentially offline meet with the women entrepreneurs across Goa, who are associated with Gowomania, once in a month.
Other companies, on similar lines, does offline meets with their partners and stakeholders on regular basis, but most of them are male-focused and male-dominated. Gowomania on the other hand was focused on the Goan women entrepreneurs. These women are usually housemakers or employed on a part-time basis in any unorganized sector, who want to make their small ventures reach national levels of recognition. People were also comfortable with this idea, and the quality of products received instilled this trust even more. People were very satisfied and amazed with the products that they bought off these women, as it reflected the tastes and essence of Goa, as people usually are unaware of.
This was a major achievement that got added under the belt of Gowomania. Changing the mindset of people regarding the Goan women and their ventures and the authentic Goan products, of things people had never heard of before. As more and more products started to get on the maps, people got more interested in the under-the-radar Goan products. These included Masalas (Spices), pickles and other delicacies. The local artefacts and handicrafts, living through years of progression, was now able to see the day of the light across the country because of Gowomania. It not only had an economic impact on these women but also had a cultural impact on the other people PAN India. People had now access to original, authentic Goan products that were never heard of before. And the ability of the people to now buy them from the comfort of their homes and knowing that they are coming from the descents of the very same culture, instilled more trust among the customers.
This was one of the major aspects that Mrs Siya saw an expansionist opportunity for leading her to launch an E-commerce platform named Goenkart.com a year ago. This platform took the entire business to a further stage of recognition and visibility across the nation and even posed an opportunity to go international eventually. The website was very much like the other e-commerce platforms like Amazon.in, Flipkart and Myntra, where the customers could directly view the products that they like and place the order from the safety of their homes. “Accessibility of authentic Goan products had never been so easy before, emphasising on the fact that all these were made by Goan women”, said Mrs Siya.
Leading by example and showcasing the importance of Innovation in any and all business aspects, Mrs Siya is a staunch believer of the idea of incremental changes for further improvement. This mindset made Gowomania grow at an unparallel pace, impacting the lives of hundreds of Goan women, making them self-sufficient and empowering them with the ability to make a fortune out of things that they did out of sheer passion and cultural ques.
Rafina Sheikh popularly known as Siya founded Gowomania to provide a social platform to encourage, guide & build a support system for aspiring women entrepreneurs. The inspiration behind her step in building this platform was the need for one such platform she felt when she first thought of turning into an entrepreneur after working 10 years in the marketing domain. As she realised the barriers and obstacles a woman has to break free from to pursue her will to get into the shoes of an entrepreneur are numerous and a woman-specific entrepreneurial platform such as Gowomania would have the sky as its limit when implemented in a proper way in the market space. Siya being from a conservative Indian Muslim family, had to fight a number of odds to break free firstly to pursue her career in the corporate then again, the shift to entrepreneurship was even tougher. She felt that a helping hand was required to uplift and help the aspiring women entrepreneurs of Goa (where Siya was born and is native to) just like herself. She also felt that a woman can better relate and understand the needs and wants of a budding female entrepreneur and this is when she decided to launch the organisation that would only be run and operated by women for the women.
So in the succeeding years, WEBN (Woman Entrepreneurs Business Network), a physical networking space under the header of Gowomania , where networking and training opportunities are provided on a membership basis was formed.
And them, Goenkart, an all-woman E-Commerce website was built to provide a stage to local woman entrepreneurs of specifically Goa where they can be verified sellers and sell and showcase their products in exchange for a nominal charge/commission to the website. This site founded in 2020 has generated hundreds of businesswomen who were looking for opportunities like this to showcase their skills but were unable to as their talent was overshadowed by big sellers in other famous e-commerce giants and the charges other platforms charged are also comparatively very high so Goenkart under Gowomania has acted as the perfect facilitator the potential leads were looking for to get into the world of selling.
So, in short, the inspiration has been from within, from the obstacles that the founder herself faced, the woman, more specifically the woman with an ambition faces in an orthodox Indian society where it is not only difficult to start something of your own but even coming out of the house with a purpose.
An organization for the women, of the women and by the women. This is how you can sum up, Go Womaniya. Started by Siya Sheikh in 2017, who wears the hat of that a civil engineer, a Social Entrepreneur, a motivational speaker and a businesswomen, Go Womaniya today has more than 400 online members and more than 10,000 online members. Looking at the progress rate, the goal of Go Womaniya, apart from women empowerment and independence, is to provide a platform to local Goan women entrepreneurs to buy and sell home-crafted, hand-made and eco-friendly products while remaining a non for profit organization that can provide free membership to all women. The organization has only female as staff policy and provides a safe space and a strong community for individual woman members in case they need help. The organization’s core mission is to provide a business platform that can enable every Goan woman to become financially independent. When we look at the journey of this organization, the success stories of various women entrepreneurs gives hope. From dancers to cake artists, from homemade sweets to professional photography, Go Womaniya has selling and buying space for everything and everyone. While talking to a few of these women, we learnt that the advent of this organization has completely altered their lives not only have they become financially independent but also they receive respect in society and they have a say in family matters, and also can afford a better lifestyle, education and access to healthcare for their children and family. Many of the women entrepreneurs used to conduct their business on a very small scale before joining with Go Womaniya, limited to only their neighbourhood, family, friends and those who came to know about their business, service or product through word of mouth, but now, not only they receive appreciation and customers from the across the nation but also the world. The strong community bond that Go Womaniya has built has allowed greater exposure and opportunities to these women entrepreneurs and members, some of these members even have gone back to school to complete their education. These stories speak about the immense success of Go Womaniya. Go Womaniya further plans to launch an app that will give the women entrepreneurs even more exposure to the world and society thus generating higher income and a better and healthier lifestyle for them. Go Womaniya is also striving to create a strong network of mentors and teachers, to provide various training facilities to its members like soft skills training, computer education and the basics of businesses. Go Womaniya aims to become an example of collaborative efforts towards empowering women.
Started as an online community, exclusively for women, it provides a platform for the Goan Women to showcase their talents, products and services. Since its birth, GoWomania has been the support system and a voice for the women entrepreneurs in Goa.
GoWomania is the parent company with three other platforms namely WebN, Goenkart.
WebN, a paid platform is Goa’s first all-women business networking platform, specially curated for women entrepreneurs. The platform has 75+ members so far and brings women under one roof to discuss and share the challenges faced by them in their respective businesses. The women are connected to mentors and speakers to improvise on their businesses and personalities as a whole. Training programs are arranged to educate women to market and sell their products to earn better revenues. The e-commerce platform “Goencart” launched in 2020, a first of its kind is an online platform to showcase the local products of Goa at a national level. It made the local but popular Goan products reach the homes of people across India.
Started initially as a Facebook group with 50 women entrepreneurs, GoWomania has inspired Goan women entrepreneurs to run their own businesses. In the male-dominated society, GoWomania provided an exclusive platform for women to discuss the hardships women go through while running any business. The small network eventually started growing and motivating a large number of women in Goa. A large number of businesswomen were connected and a team of like-minded, strong women entrepreneurs was formed. The community is 3 years old today with a total of 12,500 women.
The founder is looking forward to building a strong ecosystem through Webin for women by involving more and more women in business and providing them training to build the necessary skillset. The near future goal is to increase the 75 members to 500+ members in next year. With its mission-Build Together & Grow Together, GoWomania has succeeded in impacting the lives of thousands of women and their families by making them independent and instilling in them a sense of confidence in handling their own business. It supports women and helps them grow personally and professionally. The company has indeed touched thousands of lives and helped women become independent and have a better lifestyle.
Gowomania is a social network created by a group of female entrepreneurs to promote, assist, and provide a support system for budding female entrepreneurs. This platform came into being to help women develop skill sets and a highly motivated mindset in order to pursue entrepreneurship prospects. It has urged every Goan woman to pursue her aspirations and become financially self-sufficient, as well as ensuring that Goan women entrepreneurs have a robust support system and to make Goa a model of effective collaboration in the pursuit of women's empowerment.
Go Womania has a larger societal influence by overcoming these facts.
1. Nearly half of Indian women do not have access to a bank or savings account for personal use, and 60% of women do not possess any valued assets. Gender Equality: Women's Economic Empowerment (UN India)
2. The literacy rate for males is 80.9 per cent, but just 64.6 per cent for women (Sage Journals, "Gender Disparity in Literacy in India").
3. India's female unemployment rate is more than double that of men. (The Economic Times, "Indian women's unemployment rate is more than double that of men: study")
Women construct a brighter future for themselves, their families, communities, and their country when they are empowered, healthy, and free of abuse and prejudice. It's not just the ethical thing to do, but it's also the sensible thing to do to invest in women's empowerment programmes. Women in India continue to confront obstacles as a result of many types of marginalisation based on poverty, religion, employment, geography, and other factors.
As a result, the Gowomania women empowerment programmes provide a once-in-a-lifetime chance for underserved women to get the necessary training, advice, and technical help. It delves into several areas of women's empowerment, teaching them how to take control of their life and assisting them in reclaiming their potential through a variety of tactics.
Siya Shaikh, Founder
An Initiative by a group of women entrepreneurs to provide a social platform to encourage, guide & build a support system for aspiring women entrepreneurs. With a simple buy-sell model, the platform provides easy access to buyers to purchase home-crafted, handmade, eco-friendly, and other such products, as well as services, while providing an impactful online (and on-ground) marketplace for sellers (Goan women entrepreneurs) to grow their visibility & reach.