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Talent and creativity on display

Thursday, September 06, 2018

The 31st Women Entrepreneurs exhibition organised by the Indian Merchants’ Chamber Ladies Wing is currently on in Mumbai and ends tonight

“Economic empowerment of women is a national agenda, and by supporting this exhibition, I have the honour of supporting the economic empowerment of our women.”

Aishwarya Rai, Bollywood star and former Miss World

Yesterday, September 5, all roads for women entrepreneurs led to the Dome@NSCI,  where 240 participants showcased an array of products, as luminaries such as Aishwarya Rai, who was Chief Guest, and Shabana Azmi, made their presence felt. Smriti Irani, Textile Minister, came early and left before the inaugural programme, while Kokilaben Ambani, who is advisor to Indian Merchants’ Chamber (IMC) Ladies’ Wing made a heartfelt appeal as she praised the talent and creativity on display: “Open your hearts and open your bags and enjoy your shopping. I will be doing some shopping too!”

The occasion was the 31st Women Entrepreneurs exhibition of the IMC Ladies’ Wing, which began yesterday and ends today; as Sheetal Lohia, one of the participants, who had some striking Jadau jewellery on show, pointed out, it is a “great platform for women entrepreneurs who don’t have retail platforms—most other exhibitions prefer to have established stores participating”.

“Our mission this year is ‘Stronger Together’, said Mohana Nair, reputed lawyer and president of the IMC Ladies’ Wing. “The vision of the Wing is to empower women entrepreneurs and encourage them towards greater success in their endeavours. This exhibition presents the immense creativity of women entrepreneurs who do not have a retail presence and offers opportunities for them to be mentored by experts in different fields.”

While jewellery, clothes, bags, shoes and a host of goodies caught the eye, there were also 15 NGOs participating. “These NGOs lend a helping hand to the much-needed areas of societal concern–women’s empowerment, education and children’s causes,” said Parul Patel, co-chairperson of the exhibition committee.

However, one of the participants, it must be said, did point out that the NGOs should have been part of the mainstream, and not in a separate corner by themselves.

Among the NGOs who were showcasing their products was the Thane-based Shree Atmavallabh Swavlamban Mahila Kendra, which helps distressed women rebuild their lives; Bandra-based Aseema, which helps realise human potential through quality education and the Urvi Ashok Piramal Foundation, of the Ashok Piramal Group.

The Deeds Public Charitable Trust, which turns ‘disabilities into abilities’ also had a stall and  one of the most moving moments at the entire event for this writer was when a deaf-mute team from Deeds dressed in bright yellow stood on the Dome stadium balcony and enthusiastically participated in the National Anthem during the inaugural event.

The gourmet section is showcasing cakes, health foods, drinks and home catering for parties, and as Rekha Jhunjhunwala, co-chairperson of the exhibition committee, observed, “it was our most popular offering last year and has close to 25 participants this year.”

Another highlight of the event is the display of works of art by Akshita Gandhi, an artist, business leader and philanthropist. Akshita was invited to showcase her work, Painfully Concealed Silence.

“I took a photograph of ‘Horn OK Please’ from the JJ flyover and then painted over it,” she explained. “The piece represents the chaos within. When the vulnerable are not able to speak; when the innocent suffer; when refugees are homeless and innocent children trafficked; when cities are up in flames and superficial transient lies become a manifesto; there’s a strange chaos that lies within their painfully concealed silence. There is so much injustice that happens to women in our country.”

The exhibition, clearly one of the flagship events of the IMC Ladies Wing, received the support of several celebrities. “We are deeply grateful for the support of our advisory board Kokilaben Ambani, Urvi Piramal and Bina Modi,” said Kaushika Hemdev, Chairperson, Exhibition Committee. The guests of honour included Ronit Roy and Sonu Nigam, Poonam Mahajan, Princess Diya Kumari and Juhi Chawla.

Timings are from 12.30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and the exhibition ends tonight. Head for the Dome right now!

MENKA SHIVDASANI

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