International Women’s Week ft. Anjana Balachandran
Anjana is a third-year student pursuing an Honours in Political Science degree at the University of Ottawa. She is the Project Manager of Sprout. Sprout is a social enterprise that addresses food waste and food insecurity in food deserts around Ottawa.
In the face of the pandemic, new challenges have arisen, and resilience has been essential for the success of many companies. How did you embrace resiliency, in order to survive and thrive amidst the pandemic?
This is a great question! Sprout has had many new challenges. We have taken these challenges as a unique opportunity to work with our community to improve Sprout. How can we have a significant impact in our community? This is the lens through which Sprout has been looking at our new challenges. In addition, Sprout has leaned on our eHub community, University of Ottawa, and Enactus community!
Being an entrepreneur is a challenge and being a woman-identifying entrepreneur is another challenge in itself. Has there been a time when being a woman pursuing entrepreneurship created additional obstacles? If so, how did you overcome these challenges?
Yes, being a woman in entrepreneurial spaces has proven to bring obstacles that male counterparts might not experience. However, having amazing mentors allows me to gain insight and advice from someone that would have been in my shoes. Also, having a community of female entrepreneurs is a great resource. I have found the Accelerate, Her Future fellowship a great community of women. All are either in tech or business, and it is great to have a sort of mentorship program where someone can support you.
Did anyone that inspire you in or during your pursuit of entrepreneurship? Subsequently, what inspired the idea for your business/organization?
Many women have inspired me! This list includes Michelle Obama, Kamila Harris, Christia Freeland and many more! These are all highly driven women who positively impact their chosen industries. These women lead with passion and vision and have created substantive change in the world. As for the inspiration behind Sprout — Sprout was founded to make a better impact on the food insecure world in Ottawa. As a social enterprise, Sprout identified the gap in the market and wanted to help support the uncertain food community in Ottawa.
We love having strong representation of women identifying leaders in the entrepreneurial community, is there anything you wish to tell the next generation of aspiring women entrepreneurs?
If there was something, I wish I could tell the next generation of aspiring women entrepreneurs that perfection does not exist. It can be very easy to work on small project details for days and days. However, if you don’t launch or get the product to market… you will never know if there is a genuine need for the product. This is something that I struggle with. But a mindset switch has been handy for my success and the growth of Sprout.
*This feature was published in honour of the International Women’s Week, 2022.