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Meet Shradha Saraf, the new Ficci Flo chairperson

In a candid chat with The Telegraph, she tells us more about her plans for the year

Anannya Sarkar | Published 26.04.22, 01:52 AM

Shradha Saraf has had her heart in “creative” entrepreneurship for a while and can be credited for organising one of the city’s oldest fashion and lifestyle events in the form of Cherry Orchard and her own brand at House of kSara. Working with artisans is her forte and now, the mother-of-two has an extra feather on her cap as she is the new chairperson at Ficci Flo, Kolkata. In a candid chat, she tells us more about her plans for the year.

Tell us how your association with FICCI FLO began….


I have been a member of FICCI Flo Kolkata for more than two decades now. Any community is a platform where people come together for a common purpose and this leads to shared experiences. Personally, I’m a learning and doing person. I have been engaged in the creative field in some form or the other right from college. After college, I was looking at opportunities to engage in continuous learning. Hence Flo became the perfect platform to learn through engaging events, which included motivational speakers, workshops and learning from fellow members.

For many years, I had been a part of the audience as one doesn’t necessarily have to be in a leadership position or be a speaker or contributor. In a community, you are contributing even by participating and without the participation of the audience, any event is meaningless. So in a way, we’re all “prosumers”— producers and consumers! More recently being in the committee, coordinating the events, moderating the talks, researching the speakers and asking the right questions have been a greater learning experience.

What are some of the events that have stayed with you over the years?

There have been many interesting ones. Haring Smriti Irani and Priyanka Gandhi was very inspiring. But the one that really stayed with me is the talk by Radhika Gupta of Edelweiss. Her journey was very motivating and since I moderated the discussion, I was all the more inspired and felt connected.

As the new chairperson, what is your theme this year?

Our theme this year is ‘Fly Together’. At Flo, we start at 40 and need to rediscover, retool and reach out for the skies! We aim to achieve this theme by member engagement, promoting entrepreneurship and above all, inclusivity. This year, we also endeavour to encourage and facilitate women to showcase their talents, skills, experiences and energies across sectors and verticals of the economy for a truly inclusive economic growth trajectory.

What are some of the objectives this year?

Our objective is to promote entrepreneurship amongst our members as well as the social upliftment in the larger community. This year, too, we have ambitious plans for women empowerment and inclusive growth through several initiatives. We have a three-fold objective — Rediscover, Retool and Reach Out. We pledge to Rediscover our passions, to learn, to explore and to introspect. We are introducing learning programmes to go deeper into each subject with a series of events. Each member will have an opportunity to learn about topics of their interests and this initiative is being led by champions from our member base who are experts in the respective fields. We energise and Retool by learning from each other and our interest groups are meant to do just that. Members will benefit from the collaboration and interaction with others having similar interests. We also plan to have several treks, retreats and excursions to connect with nature and improve bonding and fellowship amongst our members.

To move forward we must give back… and there’s nothing more rewarding. One of the important objectives of Flo is to empower rural women and we plan to reach out and do so by setting up a vocational centre in rural Bengal to preserve the handicraft heritage of the region. As a creative entrepreneur, this has always been something close to my heart and this is what a community enables you to do. The Internet is a great equaliser and people can offer their services globally from any part of the world. We plan to conduct digital literacy programmes to train people for the “gig” economy.

Another aspect is that artisans generally sell their crafts at a small fraction and the middle-men make most of the money. We plan to conduct several training sessions in villages across Bengal to enable artisans to sell directly on leading marketplaces like Amazon and get better returns for their talent and hard work.

We also have many inspiring and untold stories within our community and we shall be inviting members from the other chapters to share their experiences with our members and collaborate on our various initiatives.

What are some of the challenges that you are anticipating this year ?

After working online for the last couple of years, most people are raring to meet in person and connect with each other. People have also become more mindful about how they spend their time and want meaningful conversations. More than a challenge, I see this as an opportunity to provide the members a chance to explore and discover new passions and skills with the plethora of programmes, interest groups, motivational heroes’ journeys and social initiatives that we have planned during the year.

Last updated on 26.04.22, 01:52 AM

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