Shri Vignesh Kumar, Senior Vice President, New Indian Express

Shri P Vishnu Kumar, General Manager

Shri M. Chandrasekharan, Asst. General Manager,

Shri Kiran Prakash, Resident Editor,

Dr. Joseph Sebastain, Faisal & Shabana Foundation

Madhyama Suhruthukkale,

Sahodaree Sahodaranmare

Ellaavarkkum Ente Namaskaaram.

       I am very happy to address you after presenting the Verve Awards instituted by The New Indian Express Group to advance the paper’s culture of appreciating and recognizing women entrepreneurs from Malabar.

Let me at the outset, congratulate Mrs. Chitra Gopinath,
Dr. Vidya Vinod, Ms. Fajeena Karim, Ms. Thasnim Azees
Ms. Shine Benevonon being chosen for the Verve Awards.

I also compliment the New Indian Express Group for instituting this award to recognize successful women from the Malabar region whose entrepreneurial skills have made meaningful contribution to the nation's growth.  Most of us would agree that Malabar has been an area which has not yet received the global attention it actually deserves and therefore, this initiative of the New Indian Express is laudable.

I understand that this programme was originally conceived as a part of the celebration of International Women's Day last month. I hope most of us would recall that the theme for this year's International Women’s Day was Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change.  Undoubtedly, thetheme signals the need for equality. But these five women have equaled or even outdone many of their male counterparts in the field.

As we all know, it was the educational progress of women which had quickened the pace of Kerala's social transformation in the 20th century. Education empowered women and endowed them with the courage to move to the centre-stage of life. Education also gave women the confidence to become self-reliant and it has reflected very positively in every sphere.

Yet, even in the 21st century, there are areas where women are still under represented. Science, technology, engineering, design, social innovation etc. are some of them.  Entrepreneurship is another field where the representation of women needs to improve. To make business opportunities accessible to all sections of people, we have to bridge the apparent gender divide in the innovation and entrepreneurship sector. Today, by honoring five successful women entrepreneurs, The New Indian Express is inspiring many talented women who would be interested in   using their innovative ideas in business.

A look at the profiles of the award winners would reveal the vastness of the work they have been handling in their career. For instance, Mrs. Chithra Gopinath, who has been given the Lifetime Achievement Award, has been successfully managing a hospital, an export business and a Centre for Infertility Management. Dr Vidhya Vinod, who has been given the award for the enterprising Chief Executive Officer, is both an entrepreneur and an educationist who has also been supporting underprivileged children through education and medical facilities.

Ms. Fajeena Karim, who deals in Diamonds and Jewelry calls herself an artist and a businesswoman. Ms. Thesnim Aseez, the winner of the Inspiring Icon Award has achieved stardom through her classes on cooking both in her school as well as on Television. Ms Shine Benevon, who received the Innovation Award has been using her innovation in textiles, ranging from children's dresses to bridal dresses.

As we hear their success stories being narrated, we realize that all these entrepreneur have been driven by a passion to succeed through innovative ideas. As entrepreneurs, they were always sensitive to the needs of their customer base and have endeavored to create new customers by getting their ideas across to society.

More than being a recognition of the confidence of women, award functions like this convey a message of inspiration to the girls who would like to start business ventures. For instance, in Kerala, we have a strong Start-up ecosystem, which is being utilized by many young innovators, but the number of women entering the Start up sector needs to improve. In fact, the award winners of today should devote some time for encouraging and guiding our girls, especially those from the weaker sections of society, in becoming entrepreneurs. They may not be able to handle the products that you are dealing in, but they would certainly understand the ideas and logic of entrepreneurship.


I understand that the business community in Kerala is very appreciative of the interest of the Government in fostering business activities.  All possible measures are being taken to make Kerala a hub of business activity.  Many of the roadblocks that once prevented the smooth operations of business have been cleared. The government views business as a partnership in the State's development. Therefore, by recognizing the contributions and success of five leading women entrepreneurs, we have taken a step to encourage more women to   become development partners for the State.

I would conclude by reminding you about a popular saying  by an English businesswoman that business practices would improve immeasurably if they were guided by feminine principles of love, care and intuition. It is true that to succeed in a business, you have to put your heart in the business and the business in your heart. But, the heart should have more space for compassion and concern for people in need of help.



I wish all the award winners the confidence to attain greater success in business and greater willingness to serve society.

I compliment the organizers for conducting this function in a befitting manner.

Ellavarkkum Ente Aashamsakal


Jai Hind