With the ambition to empower enterprising women relaunch their careers this CA started Career After Family Enterprise
- Hi there! My name is Kavita Agarwal. I am a Chartered Accountant and the founder of CAFE (Career After Family Enterprise), a social initiative for women.
- After qualifying as a CA in 2001, I began my professional journey as an Assistant Company Secretary but afterward I and my spouse achieved our big break as Indcap Advisors partners in Eastern India.
- My career was ascending truly well until I had to take two prolonged breaks because of my pregnancies.
- Even after I resumed work, I felt like I wasn’t using my full potential. Eventually, I recognized that my true calling was helping other women live up to their full potential resulting in the birth of CAFE - Career After Family Enterprise. This was in 2019.
- Today we have encouraged 500+ women to launch their own businesses.
I was born in a family that values education; which is evidenced by my father who, through the power of his knowledge, rose from a mere internship to the presidency of a reputable company.
My brother who is 9 years elder to me, is also a Chartered Accountant, Company Secretary, and Cost Accountant, so building a career in the commerce stream was a natural choice for me.
When it was time to decide on a career path, I enrolled for CA along with my other tuition mates. Truly speaking, I believed that pursuing CA was affordable, and qualifying as a CA would offer me better opportunities that lead to sustainable remuneration. These were some of the contributing factors to why I decided to be a CA.
From the corporate world to family business
I must put it out there that I met my husband during group studies when I was still a CA student and I was inspired by his dedication to education, despite being from a business-minded family.
I am mentioning this because he played a vital role in my career post-qualification as a CA.
After qualifying as a CA in 2001. I took up an opportunity as an Assistant Company Secretary in one of the Kolkata-based companies.
In February 2002, we got married and moved to Mumbai as my husband got an opportunity at the then Arthur Andersen. Life was different here as we missed our friends and family.
My father-in-law (FIL) advised us to pursue entrepreneurship as opposed to employment. He encouraged us to return and revive his sick plastic factory.
Shortly, we quit our jobs and joined the family business only to realize that it was not a viable option!
What next now?
Rising from dry savings to an enriched lifelong investment
My husband and I had dried up all our savings and were willing to take up any opportunity that may come our way, even if there was no fixed income stream flowing from such an opportunity.
We started looking for opportunities and my FIL introduced us to the founder of Indcap Advisors, who was looking for partners in Eastern India.
We could not look back anymore – that was our big break!
Our hard work of good quality slowly made a name for us in Eastern India. With dedication and principle, we rose from dry savings to an enriched lifelong investment.
We started with one employee and now we have 20 team members. Moreover, we pride ourselves on retaining over 80% of our team members since the inception of the work we do.
We have served our client base of over 150 new clients for over 16 years. We operate in four major Indian cities and one alliance office in Dubai.
CAFE was born: Living my passion
Over these years, I had to take two career breaks during my pregnancy. This break forced me to accept the fact that even though I was busy with Indcap, I was not completely satisfied with my contributions! I knew I was not using my full potential.
In the meanwhile, Indcap was diversifying its business and we were evaluating a lot of investment opportunities. That is when Neev Credit happened as an investor. Neev is a non-banking finance company (NBFC) that serves to make better education affordable to the masses in India by providing student fee loans. I was made in charge of Digital marketing and banking operations. However, as the corporate office was in Bangalore, I was unable to travel due to my family responsibilities.
Around the same time, I became a member of the Ladies Circle India - here I had the opportunity to connect with a lot of women, most of whom had low self-esteem due to undermined potential.
That is when I realized that my true calling was in helping others realize and live up to their full potential.
I did my research and discovered that there were not many support groups that encouraged women to start their own businesses. This was the birth of CAFE - Career After Family Enterprise; a social initiative to train women on entrepreneurship, build confidence, and offer an inspiring networking platform.
The role of CAFE
We launched CAFE in 2019 with the intention to impart knowledge and skills, grow confidence and provide a network of like-minded women to sustainably grow together.
At inception, the plan was to assist 20 homemakers to convert passion to projects every single year. Little did I know that CAFE would be a catalyst in the lives of over 500+ women around India and abroad.
We conduct regular sessions with various industry experts on a variety of life, business, digital, and networking skills in order to promote entrepreneurship among our women members.
The sessions are member-driven and this has led to the empowerment of our women as some got to realize their true calling while conducting these sessions.
At CAFÉ, we provide our members with an invaluable set of skills in a positive and homely environment where every member resonates with the other members’ aspirations.
The stumbling blocks and milestones of CAFÉ
Initially, attendance was a challenge as most women were not used to coming out of the house for their self-development. However, COVID-19 and resulting lockdown regulations resulted in a rise in attendance as our sessions were (and still are) digital.
CAFÉ just conducted the 4th batch of entrepreneurship courses and 3rd batch of spoken English classes; English Vinglish.
We provide our services free of charge and one can join as a member or mentor on our website:
Are you ready to step out of your shell and own up to your development as a woman? Would you like to get out of your comfort zone and make a living off your passion? It is all possible and well within your reach.
We have one life; let us not live it for the society’s ratings as a mother, sister, and/or daughter-in-law. Yes, we make good mothers, sisters, and daughters-in-law, but do we not have a whole lot more to offer?
Work towards fulfilling your dreams, take chances, and do not be afraid of failures! Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
Career After Family Enterprise (CAFE) is a not-for-profit initiative started by Kavita Agarwal to provide guidance and support to enterprising women, willing to fulfill their dream of having their own business venture.
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