Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, 1 May 2013
Written by Karishma Daswani, Mentee with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women
As an educated woman in India seeking financial independence, I was focused on my passion, work satisfaction and financial expectations - along with a desire to maintain work life balance. These very requirements are what gave birth to my own business - ‘FemmeHire’.
When my professional life began, scouting the internet for feel-good information about interviews, office environment, easy and quick tips on dressing, shoes and makeup became a daily norm. Long working hours substantiated the need for effective exercise as well as the importance of keeping calm with the hustle bustle.
Though work was priority, I realized that life would take on more roles in the personal sphere and professional priorities would have to work in tandem with the various roles I would play, each changing with the phase of time.
All this led to the thought that such a situation would be faced by women worldwide, so why not utilize my education in human resources and experience in recruitment to start a global work portal especially for women.
I did not nurture entrepreneurial desires until my personal and professional choices became equally important. Since I undertook work for my portal right from the idea stage to basic implementation completely on my own, getting mentoring for my business was something I considered very important, so I applied for the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women’s Mentoring Programme.
Getting mentored provided all the positive guidance that I needed as an entrepreneur - most importantly good vibes and support as I came up with ideas, changed my course of action or had a phase of scepticism.
The positivity and encouragement from my mentor, Ms Rose Fredua from the UK, helped me the most, along with the imparting of information and suggestions.
Starting from the idea stage with my mentor, mentoring helped me make FemmeHire more useful and practical. Since Rose is an IT person and my venture totally based online, ours was a perfect match. What added to the beauty and success of the mentor-mentee relationship was that being a woman, Rose completely understood the psyche of another woman who, while maintaining work-life balance, had a very important professional commitment. She several times coaxed me to relax, invest in myself, review the stringent self-made deadlines and delegate responsibility.
All this positivity and hard work got conglomerated into FemmeHire, which has evolved to become an online women-oriented workplace with a blog, a job board and a shop.
I now have a blog with articles on corporate dressing, plants that enhance productivity, Feng Shui tips for relaxation, exercises that can be done while at work, mobile apps to aid in work-life balance, how-to’s for pregnant or working mothers and a lot more.
I also created a database with work options for interns, part-time, full-time, contractual and work-from-home ladies along with a women-specific resume pool for those willing to make the most of the skills of the talented ladies.
I built an online shop that aims to do social good and has certified products created by underprivileged women for sale, to help support their livelihood and generate employment.
Starting FemmeHire very early in my professional life, I faced very personal challenges of scepticism and fears of taking a risk that could backtrack my career if it failed, not making the money my peers had started making and losing out on organizational promotional opportunities.
Yet if I had to advise a budding woman entrepreneur, it would be that if you really think your quality of life can improve by taking a risk, then go for it. However, be as precisely calculative about the time limit for self-sustenance as everyone’s situation is unique. Along with work, give time to yourself whether it is 30 minutes daily or one to two days in a week.
To share my journey with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women is a definitive mark of achievement and a proud moment for me - one of the many reasons of gratitude that I’ve had for the Foundation since my selection almost a year back.
My mentoring experience has helped reinforce the fact that the power of self-belief combined with the power of goodness and the right guidance is a sure shot to success, as I believe FemmeHire will be.