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Wonder woman

Like many other girls of her age, she too spent time in her father's office and enjoyed the little work and remuneration she received. After marriage, she spent some time as a housewife, designing dresses for children, making jewellery boxes and so on. Today, Uma R Javeri, stands tall as the MD of S Zhaveri Pharmakem Pvt Ltd and the proud winner of 'Woman Entrepreneur of the year award - 2007' at The Emerging India Awards.

S Zhaveri Pharmakem Pvt Ltd formerly known as S Zhaveri & Co was incorporated in the year 1951. It started with marketing pharmaceutical raw materials to multinationals and Indian pharmaceutical companies. Today, it represents some of the world's leading manufacturers of the same. The company provides a range of raw materials from binders to tablet coating polymers and from gelatine to colours.

In the initial days of her career, Ms Javeri faced many challenges. It took a lot of determination to join her father's office in the early 1980s. Almost everyone was against her decision. Her pillar of support then was her husband. Recalling those days, she says, "I aspired to join my father's business as I wished to provide a good future for us and our children. However, everyone else thought I did not want to stay at home." Even at work things were not easy as the business consisted of only her father, one manager, two typists and herself.

When she joined, her firm was representing international companies. It worked for HE Daniel a UK based firm for aromatic chemicals, PPG Industries Inc for fine chemicals and Roehm Gmbh, Germany for its film coating technology. The pharmaceutical companies were using sugar coating technology during those days. Although hers was a small business firm, it did pioneering work in the introduction of film coating technology in India.

Fully aware of the magnitude of change that would be required, Ms Javeri enhanced her marketing skills by attending several interactive workshops on formulation development. She also attended a course on enzyme technology in Germany to understand even the minor details of the film coating technology.

From there on, Ms Javeri did not look back. Being one of the few ladies in the pharmaceutical sector that was completely male-dominated, she made her mark in the industry with her excellent communication skills and friendly approach. She contacted the R&D divisions of the top 20 firms in India and gave several in-house presentations to encourage these divisions to change.

As film coating was a new concept, the same efforts had to be made at the MD's level. Visiting the R&D and the commercial offices not only helped in selling the product but also helped her in building a great rapport with these firms. She made presentations at Mumbai University and the pharmacy colleges to create awareness among students. She gave students free samples and literature for evaluation, and also sponsored few students to Roehm, Germany to learn film coating. With her efforts she propelled her brand Eudragit to newer heights.

Having worked alone in marketing for almost 10 years she knew people at all the levels in various managements. The product had also become so popular that she was identified as the 'Eudragit Lady'. She even attended an overseas international conference in 1994, where she was the only Indian lady amongst 400 Indian men. "I think in any field women have to face challenges but if you learn to maintain your dignity then people would respect you for what you are," she says confidently.

In 1994 Ms Javeri started stock and sale of the material she was importing until then. This was a Gmpbased warehouse and adhered to all the regulations. Several industry stalwarts encouraged her to a great extent. They helped her penetrate the market with other products as well such as Phosgene based fine chemicals of PPG.

By 1999, her firm garnered 95% of the market share. To further enhance her network she joined associations like Indian Manufacturer's Drug Association; Permes, Flavours and Fragrance Industrial Association; Pharmaceutical Allied Manufacturer's and Distributors Association. She also initiated and promoted South Asian Pharmaceutical Excipient Council (SAPEC) working on the same guidelines of International Pharmaceutical Excipient Council (IPEC). In the same year, she started a Contract Research Centre for Formulation development with her own funds at a small facility in Lower Parel, Mumbai.

By 2003, 12 technologies of her company were sold to the European markets. The company that began as S Zhaveri & Co had now transitioned from a sole proprietorship firm to a partnership firm in 1998 with Ms Javeri and her father as partners to a Pvt Ltd company in 2005. However, she feels that funding for the growth of small companies is neglected. "Banks are giving loans but require collateral security and high interest rates make it difficult for small companies. When India has more entrepreneurs compared to other countries, and SMEs are considered backbone of the Indian economy, then the financial institutions should support them to grow," she says.

In the journey of almost 20 years of her business expansion, Ms Javeri achieved many a milestone. Today, she represents four more agencies such as Gelita, BK Giulini and Peter Greven in Germany and Astatech in US. She sets new goals for herself to take her firm to new heights and make it a huge corporate. " I attribute my success to my customers, suppliers, team at work, and last but not the least my parents for teaching me to think ahead of times," she genuinely says.

Success mantras for women entrepreneurs

  • Maintain one's dignity
  • Have specialist knowledge of one's business
  • Have a zeal for multi-tasking
  • Be self-disciplined
  • Excel at customer service