Sometimes you can take the easy route in life.
And sometimes you can make the better choice.
At the age of 27 Bombay-born Ankita Shroff has not taken the easy route. Instead she is one of India’s most watched women entrepreneurs and in her role as co-Founder and CEO of SAV Chemicals in Pune, India, a joint venture with Taiwan-based Cartell Chemicals. The company supplies the increasing demand for instant adhesives in India, offering a range of grades and packaging.
“After taking my under-grad degree in Computer Engineering I went to Imperial College London for my Masters in Management, which is where I met my future business partner,” says Ankita.
Returning to India in 2012 Ankita first joined the family real estate and construction business but her dreams of entrepreneurship had her, within a year, launching her own venture.
“I always wanted to start something of my own, either in manufacturing or something else,” says Ankita. “I fell in love with bubble tea in London and I wanted to bring the concept to India. My school friend, Richard Chen, is from Taiwan and we started testing the market – seeing if bubble tea would suit the Indian palette.”
It turned out bubble tea wasn’t really suited to the Indian market but Richard had another idea: expand his family’s company, Cartell Chemicals, into India.
While Cartell was already in twenty-five countries doing business in India isn’t easy: the law is complicated, you need local contacts, and for foreigners it can be a very difficult path.
“While Mxbon the brand is present in about 100 countries world wide, entering India has been challenging, a doing business in India is complicated: you need local contacts and for foreigners it can be a very difficult path.”
“I didn’t know anything about chemicals at the time, so it was a steep learning curve. I went to my father and explained the business proposal, and we went to Taiwan and checked the scale of the project, whether it was credible – we discussed everything with the Taiwan business partners and in the end it was all positive.”
In 2013 Ankita set up SAV Chemicals.
“It’s a super-glue that we’re selling. Everyone needs glue for projects big and small at home, at work, everywhere. There can be both a retail and an industrial segment and for me it was a great venture to be a part of.”
Being a successful businesswoman is important to Ankita and she says that in business passion is important, no matter what you’re doing.
“Adhesives weren’t a passion of mine initially, but I was looking at business opportunities that would help me grow both on a professional level and as an individual. In order to give my best I had to find my passion, because success isn’t just about making money, it’s also about being happy with what you do with your life.”
Ankita found her passion – and she also found that she wanted even more: she wanted to give something back to the world. It was about making a difference in the world.
“I could have stayed with the family business and done very well, but having the opportunity and means to start my own business made me mindful about not just building something but also giving opportunities to others,” says Ankita. “I’ve been able to create an eco system where the local community can get involved. I’ve created a lot of job opportunities, particularly for young people, offering training so they can grow their careers.”
Ankita says we’re in a new place when it comes to business: employees want quality of life, and are no longer satisfied to simply clock their hours and be handed a pay cheque each week.
“We’re a startup and my employees are generally 25-30-years old. We’re a flat organisation and believe in employees well, with respect, and helping them grow alongside us. We learn from each other and exchange knowledge. Because of this we’ve create a fantastic company culture where employees are invested and give their best to us.”
Giving back to the world doesn’t just come through creating job opportunities or an inspiring company culture. Giving back, for Ankita, comes in many different packages.
“We need to give back to society in one form or another. I’m part of a number of organisations where we brainstorm and work hard to find ways to make our city better. We’re currently working on a smart city mission and I won’t get anything back from that in terms of money or power, but I will get back the satisfaction of knowing that my city is a better place to live and that this makes everyone’s lives better overall. The way I see it is this: it’s everyone’s responsibility to do their part in making life better. When you can contribute the only question is ‘Why not?’”
In addition to her efforts in making Pune a better place, Ankita formed, with her family, P K Shroff, a donation trust that helps people with medical assistance, Water dispensers, Facilities for Older generation, eye Check-ups, food, clothing, and myriad other life needs that aren’t always available to everyone.
“My family has always donated money but it wasn’t targeted in any real way. In 2014, I set up the trust as a way to put money into issues that are important to us. My father is also working with the Skilled Ministry of India on a big project that trains unskilled labour in a skilled trade. This has been really helpful in giving people opportunities in a tangible way. Giving money is easy, but giving your time and your knowledge can make a bigger difference.”
Making a difference and giving back to the world: Ankita Shroff is the embodiment of today’s mindfulness mind-set. We at Livoos salute her.
Text by Judi Lembke
Graphic design: Katrien Riks
Photos: Toril Natvig