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Shobitam: The real differentiator in entrepreneurial sector for women!

Raghu Sethuraman (Pilani, ’92) is General Manager of Azure at Microsoft. He recently visited the Pilani campus for his reunion and donated a sum of Rs. 1 Cr to his alma mater towards building Shobitam Center for Women Entrepreneurship (SCWE). In the article, he discusses about Shobitam and its vision for SCWE.

Shobitam and contributing to alma mater

Shobitam was started by my wife (Aparna) and her sister (Ambika) on March 08, 2019 (International Women’s Day) in Seattle. With a vision to democratize ethnic fashion globally, we proudly design and showcase authentic weaves, arts, and crafts from the length and breadth of India, support the talented weavers and artisans across India, help sell through the Shobitam platform, and make their products accessible to the global community.

Being one of the fastest-growing D2C (direct-to-consumer) ethnic fashion brands and a women-led global startup, we want to encourage women to come out and be successful themselves. This is the main aim of developing this center for women entrepreneurship and starting this important journey. The saying ‘behind every successful man is a woman’, we want to change it and encourage women to become successful themselves – a very simple, noble, and genuine cause.

Encouraging women to startup

By establishing this Center at BITS, across all 5 campuses (Pilani, Goa, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Dubai), our goal is to help close the huge gender gap in business, one woman entrepreneur at a time. We will empower women leaders to create social and economic impact through industry and enlighten all about the importance of inclusive women entrepreneurs for prosperity and human progress.

As the first center ever focused on women entrepreneurs at a college in India, the SCWE is one of the most visible ways we can all support and impact the larger BITS ecosystem. BITS Pilani has helped create over 6300+ startups and has been known for driving the startup ecosystem, but when we look at the number of women entrepreneurs, it’s minuscule. The first step towards solving it is acknowledging the problem. The second step is taking action to address the problem. By establishing this center, we hope to take a small but meaningful step by helping create thousands of women-led startups from all the BITS campuses and alumni globally.

The opportunity is large to build the base for women-led startups and become the No. 1 school for entrepreneurs who want to change the world. We can all help by joining hands with SCWE – by giving them the support they need to embark on their journey.

Benefits to women for their startup

The center aims to support all BITSian women - be it as employees, or women startup founders in any industry. At Shobitam, we believe that we all have it in ourselves, all we need is someone to give us a little nudge, making us realize that we can do it. At the SCWE, we aim to provide mentorship, guidance, seed funding, and open connections to the startup ecosystem. For that, we have already made a personal contribution of Rs. 1 Cr as a gesture of giving back to the alma mater.

What makes us really proud is this kind of institute is the first of its kind of an institute in India. That’s a true differentiator. We want this to be very successful and what we are looking for is support - in terms of mentorship for other women, providing guidance or seed funds to support entrepreneurs through this center. Any suggestions or ideas, please reach out at