Friday, July 10, 2020

Ladies Who Launch: Shweta Verma and her journey as a socialpreneur and co-founder of Ginny's Planet

Ladies Who Launch: A  “fireside” chat with women entrepreneurs, who launch micro businesses from home and/or create a change-making venture

Welcome to Ladies Who Launch at This is a brand new series that features women, especially mompreneurs, who launch micro businesses from home and/or create a change-making ventures. 

Our very first guest for this series is Shweta Verma, the Co-founder of Ginny's Planet, a social enterprise that aims to create a planet where "no one is considered the odd-one-out".

I came to know about Shweta and her work through Ginny Doll - a cute, smiley cloth doll wearing spectacles and with an adorable fringe. I'd bought the doll for my son last month and really liked the concept of learning to accept each other as we are. I was intrigued by Shweta's journey as a socialpreneur and mom, and her work through this unique change-making business that she has co-founded with her husband Jamal. Here is what we chatted about.

Note: Shweta is hosting a GIVEAWAY for 5 readers. Check out the details at the end of the story.

Shweta Verma, Co-founder of Ginny's Planet

CB. Please tell us about yourself, what you do, your educational background and where you’re based.
SV: We are social work professionals based in Delhi. We were batch mates in MA (Social Work) course. Each of us has an experience of 18 years in the social sector. I have worked in the area of disability rights and mental health since 2002. My work has interacted with child rights, gender, & psychosocial support in post disaster scenarios. Along with this my research degree (PhD) helps me take the workshops on research & inquiry forward with children with ease. My entrepreneurial perspective was strengthened through SSE India fellowship in 2019. 

Jamal has the experience of working with diverse international organizations and a keen interest in the creative fields. He has developed documentaries, public service advertisements, behavior change communication aids and campaigns.  He was a fellow of 2019 cohort of the India Inclusion Fellowship Program which focuses on innovations in the disability field. He is also an alumnus of the Aritra Leadership Acceleration Program, organized by IIM-Bangalore and Phicus.  

Ginny Doll

CB. What sparked the idea for your business and what were those initial days of ideating and creating this venture like?

SV: The decision to setup this social enterprise is part of my journey as a social work professional and as a mother. Since 2002, my work in mental health & disability rights kept me grounded to the vision of creating an inclusive world. The trigger to move with urgency, however, came with the birth of my son. 

My son was born (in 2016) with multiple congenital problems. Over more than 100 clinic + Hospital visits  & interactions with other people led to a deep recognition of the challenges that a child with disabilities/ medical conditions and their parents face. Laws help but the challenges continue as we move ahead in our journey. Happiness exists along with so many worries, and pain points. We want to change that by creating a more empathic world! 

I also realized that to help my son (& other children) grow up to accept themselves & others, as part of diversity is not possible without appropriate tools and exposure right from an early age. The kind of storybooks, conversations and trainings I was looking for were barely there in India, especially for younger children. Hence, we decided to take the route of doing this ourselves. I shared the idea with Jamal and he became the co-founder of Ginny’s Planet. On 28th June 2020, Ginny’s Planet completes one year of its existence as an enterprise. 

CB. What were some of the baby steps that you took to launch your venture?

SV: When I decided what I wanted to do, I also decided to up-skill myself. To evolve as a social entrepreneur, I applied for SSE India’s fellowship programme for social entrepreneurs. I was part of their 2019 cohort and this was my learning and planning ground. Based on the pros and cons of becoming a non-profit or a for-profit entity, I decided to go ahead as a for-profit social enterprise. 

In June 2019, we applied for registration as a Pvt. Ltd company. I also launched a crowd funding campaign so that we could gather enough funds to launch ourselves. Parallel to this, we were researching for designing the dolls, storybooks, and trainings for children. For this, I did interviews with the Parents, Children, Teachers, and persons with disabilities & their families.  It is because of my interviews with children that the idea of Ginny doll emerged along with the other action figures that we were planning. These interactions are part of our ongoing work as we evolve our strategies to evolve stories and engage different customer segments. 

‘Ginny’s World’ was our first preference as a name but we got the choice of registering as ‘Ginny’s Planet’. Finally, Ginny’s Planet was incorporated as a Pvt Ltd company on 28th June 2019. 

To bring Ginny to life, Jamal and I evolved her character. I discussed about Ginny with Svatanya, another Social enterprise. We decided to give the order of production to them. That is how Ginny doll was born. 

Shweta Verma with a group of school children

CB. What are some of the challenges you face in running your business and what keeps you motivated?

SV: People and organizations are still getting to know us. Paid trainings are still hard for us to acquire. We still do not have partnerships with schools and other education and/ or resilience building focused enterprises.  We continue to move forward with hope that these things would change for us in the coming months. People get to know about this through word of mouth and our network of friends and moms continue to be our strength.

2nd challenge is that while we have lots of ideas for stories, activities and products, but limited funds are becoming a problem for converting our ideas to reality. We have slowed down the expenses to some extent but not stopped working on our ideas. We apply for incubation opportunities with the hope to gather support. 

Lockdown period has been particularly hard for us. Our work has continued with full speed, we launched trainings and products. But, we struggle to pay full salaries and we have not been able to draw any salaries ourselves since several months. We continue with hope. We believe in what we do. This hope along with some support from people who have faith in us, moves us forward. Otherwise, it would have been impossible considering the fact that both of us are full time into this. We do not have other jobs. 

Shweta Verma conducting an online workshop

CB. How do you juggle your work, homemaking and homeschooling (if you homeschool)?

SV: We share the responsibilities. Since everything, including Ginny’s Planet and our son, belong to both of us- sharing or responsibilities is the only way forward. In terms of schooling, Soham studies in a school but due to the lockdown, he has been home without online classes. He is 4 yrs old and now a KG student. We focus more on what he wants to and do not structure his day much. He is able to decide how he wants to use his time and moves from one activity to another on his own. We often take turns in spending time with him during the day. 

Soham helps us learn our work as parents and his questions and comments help me make my trainings relevant for children who register for our workshops. I think that Soham should actually be considered as a co-founder of Ginny’s Planet. Without him, Ginny’s Planet would not have evolved as the idea and an entity that exists at present. Ginny is Soham’s friend and he has the first prototype of Ginny. 

CB. What tips do you have for any gal who aspires to create a self-employed career?

SV: Entrepreneurship requires us to be risk takers. It is a journey and sometimes, a rough & lonely one. It is very important to find the balance between ‘taking charge’ and ‘taking help’. We have to move forward with a lot of hope and belief in our abilities and idea. But we must know when to seek help. And we should remember to ‘pay it forward’. 

We reach our goals, sometimes inspite of the challenges we face, and sometimes due to the challenges we face. For us to be self-employed entrepreneurs, we have to embrace our vulnerabilities as well as strengths because everything combines to make us who we are!  

CB. Where can we learn more about your work? 

SV: You can find out more about our work at our website:
And connect with us via Facebook & Instagram.

GIVEAWAY: Shweta has a giveaway for the readers of this story. Ginny's Planet has 5 packs of newspaper seed pencils for 5 readers.

Seed Pencils

5 people get to win this giveaway. To win this Giveaway, you have to do the following:

Share a link to this story (or share the post from my Facebook page or Shweta's) on to your Facebook page and tag @ginnysplanet in your share.

Shweta will pick 5 people who share and tag this story and send each one of you a pack of 5 newspaper seed pencils each.

Call To Action:

To know more about how to set up a work-from-home lifestyle while homemaking and homeschooling during this pandemic and beyond, check out my BRAND NEW KINDLE BOOK "Queen Of The At-Home Lifestyle: A gal's guide to working-from-home, homemaking and homeschooling" right here on Amazon.

Hop over to our Youtube Channel for coffee & chitchat on being a Solopreneur / Homeschooling / Creating a cozy Stay-at-home lifestyle.

Download your FREE copy of 60 Online Homeschool resources by subscribing to the blog here.

To collaborate on this blog, please email Chandana Banerjee at

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