With the aim of helping women around her grow and support themselves, Sairee Chahal founded SHEROES, a women-only social media platform, in 2014. Seven years later, it is home to 24 million women. The entrepreneur talks to Travel + Leisure India & South Asia about the inception, beneficiaries of the platform, and new initiatives. By Adila Matra
T+L India: Tell us about the inception of SHEROES.
Sairee Chahal: SHEROES launched in 2014 as a jobs and opportunities platform for women. Since 2018, we have evolved into a comprehensive content, community, commerce ecosystem enabling access to employment, entrepreneurship, and capital for women. We’re home to 24 million women. Our network fuels women’s aspirations, and we’re a catalyst for the growth of women entrepreneurs.
T+L India: Is the platform aimed at women from a particular tier of the society? How does one be a member of SHEROES?
Sairee Chahal: SHEROES is a platform for all aspirational women. They could be pursuing entrepreneurial goals, or building a career remotely. They could be building a small business from home, or working on their startups. Women can download the SHEROES app, create a profile, and leverage all aspects of the ecosystem. SHEROES members can launch their online shops in a matter of minutes. They can access credit for their entrepreneurial needs via our sister company Mahila Money. They can also explore remote work options with MARS, our remote work opportunity for skilled women.
T+L India: Is there any personal anecdote from a member that stands out for you?
Sairee Chahal: We have many inspiring stories emerging from the ecosystem. We have a teacher turned businesswoman Shubhra who now markets conscious products by women founders; homemaker Sarita, who always prioritised her family, is now building her business; Nuzhat who lives with cerebral palsy is building her jewellery business, supported by her mom; and Shireen from Kolkata, who lost her job during the pandemic, launched her artisanal soap-making business.
T+L India: How has the platform grown over the years?
Sairee Chahal: India has over 16 million women-owned enterprises. But only a small percentage reach their full potential due to a number of constraints. In 2021, we launched our sister company Mahila Money, a full-stack financial products and services platform for women in India. Mahila Money is fuelling the growth of women entrepreneurs by reimagining their engagement as consumers of financial services. Our members have access to credit and a full range of financial products specifically designed for women consumers.
T+L India: What is your message to young women entrepreneurs?
Sairee Chahal: The ecosystem for women entrepreneurs has grown significantly, from enabling access to capital, mentorship, and more. I encourage women to take advantage of these opportunities, and continue investing in themselves and the growth of their businesses.
T+L India: Which destinations according to you are ideal for solo women travel and why?
Sairee Chahal: Honestly, there are so many! In India, there’s Ladakh, Goa, Kaziranga National Park, and Coorg. And abroad there’s Iceland, Eastern Europe, Vietnam, Sri Lanka. Solo travel is a fantastic self-care ritual. I encourage more women to explore it – stay safe, but take some risks!