One of India’s most sought-after investment managers in the Venture Capital industry, Bala Despande has an awe-inspiring 28+ years of work experience, of which 18 years have been in investing. Her ability to manage large portfolios (she inherited a 39-company portfolio in her first stint in ICICI Venture), weathering unstable financial scenarios (Y2K/dotcom boom, GFC) and successfully engineering a series of firsts (such as India’s first Internet IPO, first low-cost airline and first news channel) is unparalleled.
Bala has been on the Boards of Directors of several companies in the last 18 years in her capacity as an Investor. Through these she has helped foster entrepreneurship, guide companies in achieving and managing stellar growth and backing innovation.
“Being a part of so many growth stories and witnessing first-hand the making of great entrepreneurs, is very fulfilling. Another thing I cherish about being an investor is being involved in many industries, getting to understand them deeply and predicating future trends,” she says.
A staunch believer in gender equity on merit, Bala believes and backs the importance of women’s participation in the labour force. “In India, finance was the first bastion to be broken down by women. Today, and in the future, we will see more women entering more industry segments. More women are educationally qualified than before, more women are opting to stay in their chosen career and there are more opportunities in the world. So, in this perfect storm, the change to higher women participation in the workforce is inevitable,” she quips.
As an Influencer, it is this conviction and strength that Bala brings on board as a mentor and an advisor to facilitate an entrepreneurially driven approach to projects working in women empowerment space.