She did her MBA from Ahmedabad and later she joined her family’s textile business. But she wanted to do something of her own and that’s why she started her 1st touch stone jewelry business in 1996 and got huge success. Apart from this, she won BBC master mind quiz and she was on the expert panel of KBC (Kaun Banega Crorepati). Many more achievements have come in the name of FICCI ladies organization (FLO), President Mrs. Archana Garodia Gupta who is going to be released from this post on 12th April.

TFT: FLO has been working since 1983 but unfortunately most of the women are not aware of FLO and its work. Tell us something about FLO then it would be easier for our reader to understand that how can they avail benefits of FLO.
Archana: FICCI’s Ladies Organization (FICCIFLO) is the women wing of Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), the apex business chamber of India. Established in 1983, FLO is a national body with the prime objective of women empowerment through the promotion of entrepreneurship and professional excellence. Over the last 32 years of FLO’s existence, it has grown as an organization and today it is one of the most prestigious pan-India business organizations with 15 chapters and over 3900 members across India, which is committed in working towards women empowerment through business women development and capacity building initiatives besides other programmes. FLO does work for women at three levels. Grassroots: – Here we organize skill development programs to enable women to learn new skills for better employment. The middle level: – Here we do entrepreneurship programs to enable women to set up their own businesses. And last but not the least is senior level: – In this we promote women to key leadership positions in the industry. Actually FLO believes that the resources and strengths of women need to be channelized, to help their full potential. It acts as a catalyst for the social and economic advancement of women and society at large. Educational and vocational training programmes, talks, seminars, panel discussions and workshops on a vast range of subjects especially concerning women and business are a part of this process.

TFT: As you said FLO has completed 32 years successfully. Can you please elaborate on the milestones of FLO?
Archana: When FLO was started it was only based in Delhi. Due to that women from every corner could not avail each and every benefit. There were limitations. So FLO started three chapters. Now the day has come when we have 15 chapters covering different geographical regions of India and across the country. Like in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Coimbatore, Hyderabad, Indore, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow- Kanpur, Ludhiana, Mumbai, Northeast & Pune. Each chapter has own its achievement. We do something new with every chapter. Like when Mumbai chapter was started, we built
more than 100 toilets for women and we had done these 6-7 years ago. Then they stepped -up the business for street vendors like Packed Roti business which people can buy on railway station. Later we realized that India has more than 50% of its population below the age of 25 and more than 65% below the age of 35. It is expected that, in 2020, the average age of an Indian will be 29 years, compared to 37 for China and 48 for Japan. In this perspective, FLO understands that it is imperative to harness the power of youth to take the country to a new level. The Young FICCI Ladies  organization (YFLO) was initiated in 2004 to address the hopes, desires and aspirations of Young India, catering to the membership for women aged 20-39 years. Currently, YFLO Chapters are in Delhi, Hyderabad and Kolkata. Our mission is to promote economic empowerment and to provide equal opportunity to the women and that’s why FLO vision is “changing lives of women and empower them”. To achieve this we used different methodology : like we do awareness program through long term projects, policy advocacy, consultancy services, training, recognition & mentoring, research & publication, international connections etc.

TFT: What is FLO doing in order To empower women? Tell us something about your national initiatives.
Archana: FLO has launched the
1. WE (women Empowerment, Employment & Entrepreneurship) initiative to facilitate women employment, especially in nontraditional jobs in India. The objective is to Skill and train women in certain sectors of economy. This would result in economically empowered women, as well as break continuity of gender stereotyped roles for women in society. WE in Transport; focuses on training women as professional drivers for three and four wheeled vehicles. The initiatives provide driving lessons to women to help them acquire a commercial driving license to create a pool of Women Drivers. Our target is to train 1500 women across India. For this, FLO is in partnership with Maruti Suzuki Driving School. More than 300 women are receiving training at the moment. We are in the process of getting commitments from transport majors to commit
employment to the trained women drivers, including state transport Department. WE in Education: aims to encourage women to take up non-teaching jobs at the school level in order to address the issue of safety of children. FLO members, who are presently running educational institutions, are playing a major role in making this unique initiative a success.
2. Make in India Industrial parks: FLO has been interacting with various state governments to create industrial parks exclusively for women, with special benefits and single window clearance. Many states have responded favorably to this initiative. The government has earmarked lands in Telangana, Gujarat and Karnataka for women Industrial parks. FLO has received a principal agreement from the government Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh for the same. Recently we got space for mahila haat at Asaf Ali road which was set up like Delhi haat model for women artist. There we promote women artist and entrepreneurs.
3. SWAYAM consultancy cell: We also created a consultancy and membership cell in all FLO chapters across India, which plans to provide support to new and existing women entrepreneurs in establishment of business, arketing and branding strategies, bank finance, venture capital etc. The hundreds of mentors from FLO have volunteered to provide guidance in various fields to aspiring and existing women entrepreneurs across India.

TFT: Doing something only for women is quite difficult. Did you feel FLO’s work is more challenging as compared to FICCI’s and any other organization who work for male entrepreneurs?
Archana: Doing anything for anybody is difficult in equal manner. But doing something only for women is difficult because to get women who are restricted by families and household work and for them to come out and go for a job is very challenging.

TFT: But why is FLO not as successful as FICCI?
Archana: FICCI is bigger and older than us. Everything needs time. Secondly, I can admit that we do not publish our self much. We are doing a lot of work but it does not come in people’s eye. Now we have started with you (media) as well.

TFT: What are the benefits that FLO members can avail?
Archana:
1. They can get in touch with other women who are doing their business and get moral support.
2. Opportunity of doing business with each other.
3. They can participate in different seminars and training programs to get information.
4. Can be a part of our international delegation and interact with international delegates whom we host.
5. And Delhi’s active members can also associate with all 15 chapters to make the relationship stronger with them. So the programmes held, are designed to bring about an enhancement of business skills as well as an awareness of evolving trends in the economic, political and social scenario,
nationally and internationally. The training programmes are organized all over India especially in the smaller towns and semi-urban areas. FLO also takes and receives delegations abroad to promote bilateral trade, international exposure and fellowship among women. All these facilities can be availed only by our members.

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