'I am not a feminist but I feel the need to empower women' - Preeti Arora, Co-founder of SWOT Consultancy

This interview is part of the series for International Women's Day.

Social Entrepreneur, Preeti Arora also the co-founder of SWOT Consultancy with a strong will to serve humanity has been providing a helping hand to many in the society. But, the increasing number of incidents of acid attacks disturbed her. She was in support of the stringent punishments given to the accused in incidents of acid attacks.

As she was touched by such incidents and worried about the fate of the acid attack victims, she decided to provide them job opportunities. She made provisions at SWOT Consultancy, a call center where more then 20 vacancies were kept aside for disabled and especially acid attack victims. Apart from that she also recruit the survivor by providing job opportunities as per their dream career.

Preeti Arora, Co-founder of SWOT Consultancy

Preeti Arora, in an interview with Suman Prasad spoke in length about different aspects of social entrepreneurship.

Excerpts from the interview.

On deciding to be a Social Entrepreneur and starting SWOT consultancy

I started with an apparel store in 2005 which was a great learning experience. I inculcated the same art after I became the co-owner of SWOT Consultancy. I have been focusing on the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) part ever since. SWOT Consultancy is a 19 year old company, I had left my high profile job in Malaysia and wanted to settle down in Mumbai. This is when I got the opportunity to be the co-owner at SWOT.

Keeping the team motivated at work

I usually offer incentives to all employees. As they meet targets they are motivated through appreciation and rewards. For most employees, monetary benefits are a boon and well appreciated.

I am a self-motivated person, I have been in the industry for the last 13 years and I am used to being the best in whatever work I have taken up. This is because I do not rely on others for encouragement and try to work better every day. But, the biggest motivation is when the artwork that I create is linked to charity.

On women being reluctant to take the first step towards entrepreneurship even today

This may be due to lack of support from near ones, fear of failure is another aspect that must be leading to a lack of confidence for the women these days. Initial period of any business makes it difficult to manage the monetary support. These are very important aspects of entrepreneurship and as most women lack such backing or the confidence to create a support system they become reluctant to initiate entrepreneurship.

On how receptive the industry is to women entrepreneurs when it comes to funding

Although the times have changed, it is still difficult to change one’s mindset. People assume that women may not be able to fulfill her dues whereas I feel women are more reliable and trustworthy as their commitment levels are higher. Women will abide by their commitments, there are many instances at SWOT where I have noticed how women are more concerned about these aspects and can be trusted.

The industry needs to understand this and although the perspectives are changing, there still is a long way to go.

On industries where women can entering as innovators and game changers

Women are more creative and they love to go shopping, every woman enjoys dressing up and are naturally inclined towards jewellery and fashion. They should choose such a field wherein their creative abilities are exhibited in the best form. If women get an opportunity to interact with other women, it makes the process comfortable and the chances of becoming unsuccessful in it is only 80%. So, any women who are in the fashion or interior decoration industry will be comfortable as innovators or game changers.

On skills to be a good leader
It is imperative to have confidence, self-esteem and a strong belief in oneself. One should not restrict oneself and rather explore, to be a leader one has to be very decisive and assertive.

On rising cases of sexual harassment at workplaces and if a woman on top can curb these

Yes, definitely. Women are sensitive if compared to men, they can easily understand the woman psyche than a man. At the consultancy, more than 80 are women and we give them equal positions at workplace. This is because of the positive mindset that women possess, it helps to create a comfortable environment that can be curbed if women employees feel comfortable at the workplace.
I am not a feminist but I feel the need to empower women and it is essential to focus on their betterment. But, this does not mean that they can get away with everything. Those on top positions of any company should think and act rationally.

On whether it is important to have an International Women's Day

It is not really necessary to have any of the days that are celebrated around the world. Any of the relations or other occasions should not be focused on a particular day. There is nothing that a woman cannot do if compared to a man. It is important to let women know that they are equal and spend some time with the important people in your life whenever possible rather than considering them only once in a year.

Tips for women who want to be a social entrepreneur

Whether they are working women or stay at home mothers, one should not be afraid of failure and learn to overcome their fears. While starting something new, there will always exist a struggle but one should stay firm and manage to sail through. Gradually, they will learn to handle dual responsibility and manage their career. If possible build a strong support system around you to fall back on in times of crisis.

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