Female entrepreneurs in India are a rare breed. Female entrepreneurs in India who are also astute money managers are still rarer. Sumana Dutta is one such entrepreneur with a cause, and with her heart in the right place. Sumana is the founder of ‘Akshadhaa Foundation’, a skilled autism professional and the mother of a special child. When HerMoneyTalks reached the premises of ‘Akshadhaa’ for a heart-to-heart chat about her journey, Sumana was busy playing with a bunch of ‘specially-abled’ children in their courtyard. A Kodak moment indeed. Read on.

Founded in 2012, Akshadhaa Foundation is one of the few organizations in India dedicated to the cause of addressing the needs of children and young adults with developmental delays, speech or language difficulties, and autism. The foundation imparts multidisciplinary training for special children in basic life skills and prepares them for gainful vocational engagement.

The Akshadhaa Foundation’s motto is simple and direct: “empowering Autism: from weakness to strength”. They work with single-minded aim: to make people with Autism and other neuro-developmental disabilities useful to society.

Sumana’s money management: A fine gift

While most female entrepreneurs in India imbibe money management skills over time, Sumana was a natural. Sumana began her Foundation with her personal savings and support from her husband.

The earnings from her consultation used to be the major source of fund in the initial year. She even took a draft account with her gold jewelry to ensure cash flows. This led to the successful expansion of her organization.

In our early years, the focus was more on being a conscious consumer. It was also on healthy cash flows for paying employees and vendors on time, and having funds for expansion.

“From the very beginning, financial decisions were always mine and I approached different companies for CSR funding. Thorough homework in my field, planning for funding, and efficient working on project proposals are my success hacks. I am confident in my job and have a larger vision, with finite short term goals,” declares Sumana.

Her money management strategies have helped her handle all aspects of finances and have given a healthy direction to her company. “In our early years, the focus was more on being a conscious consumer. It was also on healthy cash flows for paying employees and vendors on time, and having funds for expansion. With sustainability and growth, the focus is now more on budgeting and planning, long term goals, and right kind of investments.”

The confident entrepreneur who found balance

Being a mother of a special child, Sumana could relate to the lack of commitment and emotional or technical support every such mother faces. It helped her understand the mistakes therapists committed while advising parents of specially-abled children.

The number of entrepreneurs in her field is not high and she reveals that it is at times challenging to find balance between business and family life. “When you have a start up, it is like your child and you need to give equal amount of time, passion, and sweat to see it grow. I have seen the fear of failure induced in some women either by their spouse, family members, or society. I believe women are equally capable of chasing their dreams as others and nothing can stop us if we are determined,” smiles Sumana.

As the conversation progresses, her confidence in a way gets infused in the air and a happy vibe is sprinkled all around. Sumana is never over-ambitious or too optimistic about quick growth. Here, her husband helped her in building strategies and making networking more feasible.

When you have a start up, it is like your child and you need to give equal amount of time, passion, and sweat to see it grow. I have seen the fear of failure induced in some women either by their spouse, family members, or society.

Age is just a number in front of your passion, ambition, and hard-work. Like scores of other females entrepreneurs in India, Sumana’s life too oscillated between her career clock and biological clock. She was a computer networking engineer who took a break of eight years from career and later emerged as an entrepreneur in a different field of education. She even did her higher studies in counselling and training of the disabled.

A word to the wise

According to Sumana, any ordinary woman can become a good money manager simply by:

(1) taking advice from a trusted financial adviser.

(2) engaging in right kind of investment plans.

(3) having a contingency fund ready for the break from career.

(4) having a life insurance and health insurance policy .

For Sumana, proper organization of finances and planning spends, savings, and investments are the stepping stones to financial wellness.

A torch-bearer for all female entrepreneurs in India, Sumana wrapped up the talk with this nugget: “We have to strive for the best, but also plan for the worst”.