Program Director, India
WEConnect International in India identifies, educates, registers, and certifies women's business enterprises that are at least 51% owned, managed, and controlled by one or more women. WEConnect International is the only non-profit connecting women-owned businesses with multi-national corporate purchasing organizations outside of the United States.
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Aakanksha Bhargava is the CEO of PM Relocations Pvt. Ltd. (PMR) located in India. A Certified Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) since 2013, PMR provides end-to-end mobility services and, today successfully relocates close to 6,000 families in a year around the world. In addition to winning business with corporate members Accenture and IBM, Aakanksha was also the recipient of the WeInspire Award at the 2018 WEConnect International ThinkBig Conference in India. Read her full interview.
What inspired you to start your business?
This company is the brainchild of my father and it was his hard work, love, and passion that ultimately lead me to join and eventually expand the company. Right from childhood, I was always fascinated by my father’s professional commitment. He used to take me on the surveys scheduled over the weekends and I saw, firsthand, how passionate he was about ensuring his customers were happy and stress-free when they moved with us. That sparked my interest in the industry and when I joined PMR in 2007 (then PM Packers), I realized that this was the place where my heart truly belongs.
I believe that inspiration comes from the ability to be as creative as you want and, growing up, I always knew that I wanted to make and build a career for myself. That is why I chose to be an entrepreneur. If you are working for someone else, you help them with their vision. If you work towards your own defined vision and belief, you make your employees and colleagues breathe your vision and together work hard to make it a successful reality. That is the motto I have lived by in building and strengthening my own vision for this company. Today, I love my place of work and I feel very lucky to be a part of an industry that touches so many lives every day.
What value has the WEConnect International WBE certification brought to your business?
We chose to be certified by WEConnect International because it gave us leverage to connect, establish, and strengthen corporate bonds with like-minded women-owned businesses. Having the support and assistance from similar professionals looking to explore authentic and unconventional business relationships is a huge value add for our company.
How did you secure new business with a WEConnect International corporate member?
I had an opportunity to be introduced to corporations through the WEConnect International network. Additionally, the conferences held at regular intervals have also been immensely helpful in meeting both corporations and esteemed women business owners. Once the connection was made, our WBE Certification proved an asset in gaining clients’ trust.
However, we also had to think creatively and innovate our business model in order to remain competitive in the corporate market. At first, we included destination and settling-in services as part of the relocation, making PMR a one-stop-solution for a wide range of mobility requirements.
Secondly, we revamped our shifting process to be highly organized and technology-oriented to keep the clients regularly updated at every stage of the move. Last, but not the least, we tapped into other less-explored and challenging domains of relocation industry such as Pet and Fine Art Shifting. We were immensely applauded for our personalized services and, in addition to earning various rewards and recognition, are now doing business with several WEConnect International Corporate Members.
What challenges have you faced as a woman entrepreneur and how did you overcome them?
To lead an unconventional business in the male-dominated industry is quite challenging as women often get sidelined or are otherwise completely unheard of. Initially, I encountered a major problem in getting work done by elder, male subordinates which was compounded by the fact that the whole relocation industry in India was, back then, highly unorganized. However, encountering a learning curve often allows us to better explore ourselves and what we can achieve. So, while I did encounter several setbacks as a women entrepreneur—I always took them as a learning experience and continued moving ahead.
What advice do you have for young female entrepreneurs?
Dream big and do everything in your power to make that dream a reality! Always be passionate about what you do and stay focused. I believe one must have a long-term goal in order to achieve what they want. If you have ambition and determination, there is nothing that can stop you from excelling in your field. And as you continue to grow, one of the best things you can do as an entrepreneur is to make sure your team grows with you.
WEConnect International, in partnership with WEConnect India INT Association and the Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII), implemented the third iteration of the Women's Entrepreneurship Development Program (WEDP 3.0), a signature program of Walmart India. The third edition of the program consisted of two cohorts of twenty women business owners each, with in-person trainings located in Bengaluru and New Delhi. It also included virtual trainings for additional women entrepreneurs who were not part of the in-person trainings.
The summit included corporate panel discussions, sharing of success stories by successful women entrepreneurs, an awards presentation and matchmaking where WEConnect International Certified WBEs had an opportunity for face-to-face roundtable meetings with participating corporate members.
Program Director, India