Express News Service
KOCHI: Digitalisation has helped small businesses thrive during the pandemic. Yet, many small-scale businesses and ventures still haven’t received the exposure they deserve. The majority of women entrepreneurs from Wayanad have been living like this for many years now. Upon noticing this, Rafeena Sanoop and Dr Irfana Ibrahim started an online entrepreneurial community exclusively for women from Wayanad a year ago – WEN Wayanad.
From small to large businesses, WEN is home to over 180 entrepreneurs now. When it started, the duo never expected their hometown to have so many entrepreneurs. “Initially I thought Wayanad would have maybe 50 entrepreneurs,” says Rafeena. “Since I run an online clothing venture on Instagram, I was acquainted with a few other virtual businesswomen. Six of them joined WEN and through word of mouth, many more started to show interest and requested to be a part of the group. Within a month, WEN had over a hundred members,” adds Rafeena who is also a travel photographer.
Calligraphy artists, event managers, bottle artists, gift hamper specialists,home bakers, clothing stores, fashion designers, caterers — almost every field has an entrepreneur signed up with WEN. To become a member, one has to be a woman entrepreneur based out of Wayanad, and the business has to be a personal initiative.
“We have seen a lot of women entrepreneurs from Wayanad with potential who haven’t shown remarkable growth. They require support to push their business to the fore. Similar online entrepreneurial communities are functioning in nearby districts. For Wayanad, this is a new experience,” says Irfana, who is also a content creator on Instagram.
The members, after joining the platform, have to make a video where they introduce themselves and their businesses. Due to the pandemic, the only way WEN can promote these businesses is through well-crafted content. “The members of the group will share the shot videos as their Instagram story, and on other social media platforms. The videos will also be reposted by groups in Wayanad which has over 10k followers,” says Rafeena.
Through WEN’s WhatsApp group, Rafeena is building a strong networking group. “The members would recommend names of entrepreneurs that would suit an opportunity – like an event. This way they get to groom each others’ businesses,” says the duo.
Last year, women between 8 to 50 years and above have joined WEN. According to the founders, it is a motivation for small-scale businesses to see results in their hard work. “Most women over 40 know little about social media or how to run their business through social media platforms. WEN conducted free webinars through Google Meets to educate them,” says Irfana. Once the Covid situation gets better, Rafeena and Irfana aim to host flea markets in Wayanad.
Originally Appeared Here