Ever since Vasvi Bharat Ram took over as the President of FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO), the oldest women business chamber of Southeast Asia and the women’s wing of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), she has been investing long hours at work and has built relationships with colleagues that she deeply values. In the past two weeks (as the President), she has envisioned to bring dynamic changes in the development of women entrepreneurship in the next 11 months of her tenure, which is also central to FLO’s philosophy and mission.
“Women should be self-reliant in order to achieve their goals in life. Hence, my focus for this year would be to increase women participation in the process of economic development and to create a pool of resources by skilling them at grassroots, middle and senior level with our tag line ‘changing lives’,” says Bharat Ram who believes that FLO’s mandate has always been by the women and for the women.
FLO was initially started to bring women empowerment and establish women as better entrepreneurs in a workspace. Today, it has 13 chapters in all the top cities, four YFLO Chapters for 22-40 years and a total of 17 chapters pan-India. FLO was established in 1983, as a division of FICCI which is the apex body of industry and commerce in India. As an All India Organisation for women, FLO has chapters in Mumbai, Chennai, Coimbatore, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Guwahati and Kolkata with its head office in Delhi, which has members from all walks of life – entrepreneurs, professionals, homemakers and corporate executives.
“With ample ideas and investment opportunities, women are now learning a trade as well as home-grown practices to start their own venture. Hence, we have balanced the two forms of traditional and non-traditional skills to teach them the best. From a traditional home-grown skill like stitching, tailoring, cooking, fisheries, bamboo-making crafts to non-traditional skills like driving, where we have collaborated with Uber and Maruti, to train and employ women as drivers,” she says.
Considering the fact that FLO is not a skilling agency, it has managed to train 3500 women informally so far. “In future, we are also trying to get the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) in partnership with Rising India where FLO will be a facilitator providing grants with a centre of excellence for women to get skilled training and learn a new job,” adds Bharat Ram.
“Keeping these trends in consideration, FLO will continue to work towards the inclusion of more women in the workforce through skilling initiatives in the field of telecom, transport and e-commerce, initiatives for grassroots women, providing support to women entrepreneurs’ through Swayam which is our business consultancy cell, conducting directorship training and helping place women on Corporate Boards through the FLO Women Directors programme. We will also expand and strengthen our initiatives to complement Government programmes like Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan and Make in India,” added Bharat Ram.
For women in the leadership position, FLO helps women to join corporate boards for long term projects. “We have launched a gender parity index last year for corporates across all sectors where one can rate the company in terms of gender parity and how the corporate house is a woman-friendly organization,” she said.
In addition to these, Bharat Ram pointed out a few health initiatives for breast and cervical cancer with the health ministry and hospitals to be launched in July, where FLO will act as a catalyst in driving the change.
An entrepreneur herself, Bharat Ram is the Joint Vice Chairperson of the Executive Committee of The Shri Ram School and a member of Shri Educare Limited. After completing her education in England, she returned to India and started her own business in wrought iron furniture, home accessories and artifacts working to provide a livelihood to local women artisans. As an advice to the young entrepreneurs, Bharat Ram believes in “taking risks and dreaming big”. In her leisure time, she enjoys reading and likes to travel the world.
Note: News shared for public awareness with reference from the information provided at online news portals.