Mother, entrepreneur and New European: this is Madi Sharma. UNITEE had the opportunity to interview this New European entrepreneur, founder of Madi Group, and an active member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in Brussels, on her entrepreneurial journey and her advocacy of gender equality and women entrepreneurship.
A New European entrepreneur
It all started with scrumptious samosas. A self-made New European entrepreneur, Madi Sharma had people around her telling her that business was no place for a woman and that she will not succeed.
Despite the difficulties and barriers she faced when she first started her own business, this inspiring mother of two daughters is now a successful businesswoman and is now changing the lives of many women and aspiring entrepreneurs around the world, one step at a time.
Madi Sharma has a very colourful background, with Indian and Polish roots. “My multicultural background, having come from all over the spectrum, is where I get my diverse thinking. There are different models of starting a business from all over the world, which I try and apply”. This is one of the main pillars behind her business.
Born in India, she grew up in the United Kingdom in a very strict Hindu household. After a few unfortunate events in her life, she had to find a way to support her children and start anew.
“What triggered my entrepreneurial spirit was I had nowhere to go, there was nothing I could do. I became an entrepreneur out of necessity. What I did was look at my options. I had no qualifications, no skills, no training, and have two kids. I had to find something I can do around them”.
Ms Sharma was inspired by how women in India who are in worse situations, went to the streets to sell vegetables, pastries, and other things in order to provide for their families. She started her business in her kitchen, where she made four samosas a day, delicious Indian baked pastries of flour and peas. She then sold them to local shops in Daybrook, Nottinghamshire.
The samosas were a hit! She then moved her business to a factory with more than 30 employees, where about 10,000 products were manufactured every week. Although she is not in the food business anymore, Ms Sharma continues to strive as an entrepreneur, running and helping out different businesses in the UK, India, and other countries.
“We, in Madi Group, value human capital. MADI stands for Make A Difference Ideas. It is about empowering people to make those differences, to make those changes they want to see. We value people”.
Founded by Madi Sharma, Madi Group is a team of international private sector and social enterprises who aim to come up with innovative ideas for the benefit of local communities that in turn can have global impacts and foster a sustainable society.
Through Madi Group, Ms Sharma conducts public speeches, trainings and conferences both inside and outside Europe on diversity, entrepreneurship and gender equality, getting groups of men, women and young people together. She also tries to create innovative ways in creating jobs, developing a concept where people are able to create a job of their own based on their respective capabilities.
An advocate of women, entrepreneurs and diversity
Aside from being an entrepreneur, Ms Sharma is also active in different NGOs and advocates for different causes, especially on gender equality and women entrepreneurship. She became an entrepreneur in order to make changes in society for the future generation. “I am a social capitalist. Once you create profit, you then have a choice of what you want to do with it. My choice is to use that profit to see the changes that I want to happen: educating girls, empowering women, creating more entrepreneurs, inclusive diversity, and more empathy; all things I am really passionate about”.
Aside from this, she perceives diversity and a new European workforce as a good business opportunity and investment. “Diversity brings different kinds of thinking. It brings different opportunities and different skills. It also brings new markets. If I employ you and you are of another ethnicity and speak another language, you might know a different work process to the way that I am doing and this gives me the opportunity to get into new markets”.
What is Madi Sharma’s advice to aspiring entrepreneurs? “Just do it. No excuses. What is stopping you is not your fear of failure; it is your fear of success”. It is our choice to be successful or not.
You can read the full interview here.