KarmaConversations with Jahnabi Phookan

Guwahati: Sustainability has taken centre stage and we have to create livelihood-linked and entrepreneurship-driven enterprises by women, said Jahnabi Phookan, national president of FICCI FLO, a division of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) — the apex body of industry and commerce in India.

Phookan was the guest on the latest edition of ‘KarmaConversations’ which was aired on EastMojo’s social media platforms on Wednesday.

Phookan also revealed that about 60% of urban educated unemployed women of our country aspire to lead entrepreneurial roles from home and that is a great resourceful workforce. “Initiatives are being taken to conduct more online classes/training programmes for these ‘homepreneurs’ (home entrepreneurs) and online e-commerce linkages are being created to further hone and develop their skills,” said Phookan, who is the first woman from the Northeast to have become the national president of FLO.

FLO was established in 1983 and now represents over 8,000 women entrepreneurs and professionals and has ever since been working aggressively towards promoting economic empowerment and equal opportunities for women. FLO has 17 chapters pan India — Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Bhubaneswar, Chennai, Coimbatore, Hyderabad, Indore, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Kanpur, Ludhiana, Mumbai, Northeast, Pune, Amritsar, Northeast & Uttarakhand — with its head office in New Delhi.

Phookan is in fact the first ever representative from Northeast to hold a presidential post in a national-level chamber of commerce. She believes that she is the voice of the NE with a greater responsibility to connect the rest of the country to the region.

She took up her role as the national president with the vision of ‘sustainable livelihood for women’s economic upliftment’.

Phookan’s journey with FLO can be traced back to 2007 when she set up the FLO Northeast chapter as its founder vice-chairperson.

When asked about taking upon such an important role in a difficult year as 2020, she said that although there have been challenges on the ground, her team and she looks at the positive side, considering how 8,000 women across India have now embraced technology and the new ways of interactions which have also made important policy and decision makers extremely accessible.

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“We must go down and empower women at the three levels that we work — the grassroots, middle income and corporate level — and we are working towards that and we will make that happen as the year goes by,” she said.

Apart from her prestigious role as the FLO president, Phookan is a successful entrepreneur herself who started Jungle Travels India (JTI Group) as early as in 1989. She is also the co-founder of Assam Bengal Navigation Company under JTI Group — both being National Tourism Award-winning companies encompassed in travel & hospitality that empowers young people’s livelihoods, especially women and their communities.

Phookan also started the platform ‘KONYAK’ with her partner from Nagaland in 2008 for the artisans and weavers of Northeast India with a curated collection of handloom, handicrafts and artifacts from the region. She works for the cause of women weavers of Assam and runs her own signature line as Tribal Heritage and Lahe Looms since 2014.

For the whole interview, watch:

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