When Wharton grad Neha Bagaria took a break from her career to have a baby in late 2009, the maternity break ballooned into a three-year hiatus. And when she got back into the workforce it seemed like a changed world.
“I dealt with everything from guilt management to time management to fear management to biases management,” says Bagaria, 36, who has two boys aged 9 and 6.
Her reasoning was that if she experienced all of these doubts and concerns it must resonate with a lot of women trying to re-enter the workforce. Thus was born JobsForHer– a portal dedicated to women aspiring to restart their careers.
She launched it on International Women’s Day in 2015. It now draws more than 300,000 monthly visitors. Bagaria says that she’s been able to reach millions of women through Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
With a reach spanning 15 cities from Delhi to Mumbai to Chennai, JobsForHer features postings from more than 5,000 companies including the likes of banking behemoth Citibank, retail giant Future Group and consumer goods major Unilever. The listings range from volunteer opportunities to part-time and flexi options in addition to full-time work.
Bagaria partners with more than 300 vendors who offer re-skilling services that cover the gamut from resume writing to soft skills coaching to technology training. Additionally, a team of 500 mentors from a variety of different sectors guide the women returnees.
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“This is an online marketplace model where we connect women to all that is required to restart their careers,” says Bagaria. “The companies then take the discussion forward with the short-listed applicants.”
With millions of women dropping out of the workforce due to marriage, maternity or child-care/elder-care obligations, a number of outfits have identified “women restarters” as an important segment of the market. Hence this is a hotly contested space with ventures like Noida’s Sheroes, Chennai’s Avtar I-Win, and Bangalore’s Her Second Innings.
The India Skills Report (2019) found that participation of Indian women in the workforce had dropped from 32% to 25% between 2016 and 2018. A World Bank study also found that 20 million Indian women quit their jobs between 2004 and 2012. Many of them never return because of the lack of access to quality childcare. They are also hobbled by low self-confidence and outdated skill sets.
“Women re-starters represent a latent talent pool,” says Bagaria. “They are experienced, capable, recharged, mature women who are often available to join companies immediately.”
JobsForHer, which is fully owned by Bagaria and is not yet profitable because of its focus on growth, has a straightforward revenue model.
“We offer branding and engagement solutions for our clients who want to showcase themselves to our audience of women returnees through our various channels, like our portal or social media outlets as well as our offline events,” says Bagaria.
For the women, though, there are no fees to register. JobsForHer holds two annual career events – AccelHERate, held on International Women’s Day and RestartHer in September.
AccelHERate brings together companies looking to recruit women and it also focuses on retention and promotion, whereas RestartHer is targeted at women who are re-entering the workforce.
“It provides the whole package where women are able to connect, re-skill and understand how they can fit into the workplace,” says Bagaria, who employs more than 50 women in her organization. “While the career fair is free for women to walk in and meet companies, we have different re-skilling workshops that charge a nominal fee. The conference is a chargeable premium with several exclusive features. The delegates not only get to listen and interact with senior industry leaders, but also receive mentorship at our speed mentoring zone and access to premium workshops.”
JobsForHer is Bagaria’s second entrepreneurial venture. She started her first business in 2003 in Bangalore, after her return from Wharton where she earned an undergraduate degree in finance and marketing. That startup was an education company called Paragon, which was aimed at Indian students taking Advanced Placement courses before applying to U.S. universities.
She shut it down in 2005 when she got married, moved to Bangalore and started working at her husband’s bio-pharma company. She worked there until late 2009, when she took a break. She re-entered the workforce in 2013 by working in bio-pharma again, but she said her heart was really set on doing something for women re-starters. So, she started JobsForHer in 2015.
“We strive to create a balanced workforce with equal representation of women in the workplace and a balanced society with women regaining their financial independence and self-confidence,” says Bagaria. “We also help companies meet their recruitment and diversity goals.”