New Delhi (India), November 8: Women entrepreneurship is redefining the business landscape and is more than breaking glass ceiling, it is raising the bar with innovative solutions and out-of-the-box ideas. The emergence of what has come to be known as “Swiftonomics” is not merely a catchphrase but a powerful force that is reshaping economies and propelling them into positive quadrants. Women entrepreneurs, in particular, have been at the forefront of this economic revolution, redefining traditional notions of business, governance, and, indeed, all aspects of human life. 

Among the many trailblazers in this movement is Soniya Malik, a woman hailing from a tech background, who embarked on a journey to conquer the daunting world of accounting jargon and emerged with ingenious solutions, enabling non-accountants to navigate the intricacies of finance with confidence and finesse. Her story is emblematic of the incredible transformation sweeping across the economic landscape, where the potential of women to drive change is no longer underestimated but celebrated and acknowledged.

The Visionary Behind Akounto

Soniya Malik’s entrepreneurial journey began with a dream and an unwavering determination to change the way businesses manage their finances. Armed with an engineering educational background, problem-solving and finding technology-based solutions became her second nature. Finding solutions and scaling them is what can best described when technology meets commerce and aims to provide a user-friendly, comprehensive financial management platform that can be used even by non-accountants. This vision led to the birth of Akounto.

 The Early Challenges

Like many entrepreneurs, Soniya embarked on her journey with limited resources and faced several early challenges. Her experiences in the formative stages of Akounto taught her invaluable lessons in resilience and adaptability.

As an entrepreneur, you have a lot to accomplish and are expected to have superhuman intelligence and competencies, which is more of a media-generated hype. But one of the basic qualities that is required from all entrepreneurs and leaders, is to gather a team, generate confidence, identify and hire talent, and then keep that talent positively engaged and on-page with the vision.

Leadership is not some crash course of business but comes from empathy and, a higher emotional quotient, and a lot you learn when you meet problems head-on with your team. Being a woman,   Soniya quickly became adept at wearing many hats, handling everything from product development to customer support, as understanding people’s perspectives and giving a decisive lead comes naturally.  Nurturing a start-up is more like organizing a group of people, and getting every onboard soul to see the same vision and working together to achieve that vision. 

Overcoming Challenges

Soniya Malik’s story is a testament to the resilience and determination of women in business. She overcame numerous challenges, and her journey serves as an inspiration for aspiring female entrepreneurs.

We asked her how she overcame those challenges, her answer was amusing and insightful. 

“You don’t hold the surgeon’s knife and tell him how to do his job, you just trust the expert. Micro-management kills people’s initiative, plus you are also tied to every detail and tend to miss the big picture. Someone has to see where the ship is going, or the iceberg of micromanagement will drown the Titanic.” said Soniya Malik.

“I examine the problem and set the agenda for the day or week. We move from solution to solution and step above slowly but continuously. We keep moving. I trust my team. My main job is to see, that in case they encounter any roadblocks, then I come into the picture, and it is my responsibility to see that they can try their solutions and innovations in a controlled environment. Once we find a solution, then move towards its implementation. For every stage, it’s all the team, the specialist takes the lead. What we know it as situational leadership.” 

  1. Gender Bias

As a woman in a male-dominated industry, Soniya faced gender bias and stereotypes. However, she used these challenges as opportunities to prove herself, and her relentless pursuit of excellence gradually earned her the respect of her peers and competitors.

Soniya leverages technology to break the gender mould. Technology is a great leveller and democratizes work. 

“We are not rigid and tied down by conventional corporate style of working. Of course, we have hierarchies, so that roles, functions, responsibilities, and workflows are well-defined. We don’t waste time on ego-boosting meets, but rather focus on productivity. I am not a prisoner of my cabin, I sit with people, these are my people, my team. Cross-team collaborations are the manager’s responsibilities and they don’t come to my cabin for any assistance, as am always on the floor.”

“We don’t merely talk of gender equality and our definition is not limited to providing sops. We provide challenges, opportunities, and support when it is needed. Regular knowledge-sharing meets and women-led teams are a common sight in Akounto.

Women are at the forefront of taking on any challenges from designing product solutions to marketing initiatives or business development. KRA-KPI puts the merit in front and not any biases. A well-defined job structure, with job specifications and job descriptions, helps all the employees to understand what is expected from them. We don’t leave scope for any misinterpretation.”

  1. Balancing Family and Business

One of the most significant challenges for women entrepreneurs can be balancing family responsibilities with the demands of a growing business. Soniya Malik learned to delegate and prioritize effectively, creating a support network that allowed her to excel in both her personal and professional life.

“Work, projects, and deadlines are not a one-time event but an ongoing process. Better mental health for me as well as of all the employees is of paramount importance to me. We don’t call any employees on weekends. And if there are any personal emergencies, we have some provisions to assist the employees. A stress-free and result-oriented approach adds value and reduces inefficiencies” said Soniya.

  1. Networking and Mentorship

Soniya actively sought out mentorship and networking opportunities to expand her knowledge and grow her business. She recognized the value of learning from experienced leaders and surrounded herself with mentors who helped her navigate the complexities of entrepreneurship.

“Doing business involves getting skilled, and upping your game, and it is not just limited to employees. There are lots of learnings especially when the technological and regulatory landscape is changing rapidly. 

There are people who have solved some problems which you may be facing now. It is better to learn the knowledge than to waste time in re-inventing the wheel. As they say, it is wiser to learn from other people’s mistakes and ordeals. Knowledge is capital and pays rich dividends”, said Soniya Malik.

Insights on Leadership

Soniya Malik’s journey has shaped her into an insightful and influential leader. Here are some of her key insights on leadership in the business world:

  1. Diversity and Inclusion

Soniya believes that diversity and inclusion are essential for innovation and success in today’s business world. She actively promotes an inclusive work environment at Akounto, which she credits as a key factor in her company’s growth.

  1. Resilience

Resilience is a trait she holds dear. As a leader, Soniya stresses the importance of staying resilient in the face of adversity and using challenges as opportunities to learn and grow.

  1. Continuous Learning

Soniya advocates for lifelong learning and encourages her team to stay updated with industry trends. She believes that constant learning and adaptation are essential for remaining competitive in a rapidly changing business landscape.

  1. Empowerment

As a woman entrepreneur, Soniya is passionate about empowering other women to break barriers and pursue their dreams. She believes in mentoring and supporting the next generation of female leaders to foster more diversity in entrepreneurship.

The Road Ahead

Soniya Malik’s journey as a woman entrepreneur and the founder of Akounto is a testament to the power of perseverance, innovation, and effective leadership. Her story serves as an inspiration for women looking to venture into the business world, and her insights on leadership are a valuable resource for leaders of all backgrounds.

As Akounto continues to thrive and shape the fintech landscape, Soniya Malik stands as a shining example of what women can achieve in business when they embrace their strengths, overcome challenges, and lead with passion and purpose. Her story reminds us that true leaders, regardless of gender, possess the qualities of vision, resilience, and an unwavering commitment to creating a better future for themselves and their communities.

Message by Soniya Malik:

My path has been a challenging but rewarding one, and I hope that it serves as a source of inspiration for women who aspire to venture into the world of business.

Throughout my career, I have encountered obstacles and biases, but I firmly believe that with determination and unwavering commitment, women can overcome any challenge and excel in leadership roles. It’s crucial to embrace diversity and inclusion in the workplace and provide opportunities for women to shine.

I want to emphasize that leadership knows no gender, and effective leadership is about vision, resilience, and empowering those around you. I hope my insights on leadership resonate with you and encourage you to lead with passion and purpose.

Thank you for taking the time to read about my journey, and I hope it encourages you to pursue your own dreams and aspirations in the world of business.



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