The founding team — and me!

Written by Helené van Tonder

My journey with started in November 2020. I initially joined as a (very enthused) member and became a part of the founding team a few months later.

My initial enthusiasm has not waned one bit! If anything, it has deepened.

For the last few years, I’ve actively been searching for a community of professional women. But I was always left disappointed, feeling that either the issue of gender equality was superficially understood, or that business and organisational savvy was lacking.

Not so with From the outset, I could sense that they’re playing in a different league. From the crisp articulation of the problem they’re working to solve, to the elegance with which they communicate their value proposition, to the incredible competence, professionalism, and compassion I found when I first met members of the team.

There was no doubt in my mind that it’s something I wanted to be a part of and would pay decent money for. It’s been 9 months since my initial impressions were formed, and there’s no looking back. 😁 I have benefited enormously from this community.

The backstory

I’m from South Africa 🇿🇦 and moved to India in January of 2020 because my (now) husband is Indian and we were looking to put an end to cross-continental dating. Yes, I had a full-blown Telugu wedding. No, I’m not adding pictures here. 😛

Of course, it’s no surprise that finding my feet in a new country and culture in 2020 was… tough. By October last year, after 10 months of living in India, I had hardly met anyone besides my in-laws, had made no friends, and was feeling rather despondent about my career in India.

Then happened. Now I know amazing women all over India (and some have even become friends, hooray!), I’m part of a pretty cool book club that meets once a month, I run a clubhouse on and have led and participated in many formative and interesting discussions, AND I get to work with an incredible team!

The first of many clubhouse huddles with fellow members :)


My membership has helped me to build a solid professional network in India in just a few months. It also gives me access to great job opportunities. Why do I also choose as the team and mission to commit myself to?

I have 3 reasons:

  1. It’s a huge economic opportunity!

Gender equality is an important and multifaceted moral and social issue. But it’s also been shown that it’s a trillion-dollar economic opportunity! We should totally be building startups to capitalise on this opportunity with innovative solutions.

2. We need stopgap solutions, and speed

Early in my career, I landed a great opportunity, but I failed at it. It was a confusing experience, leaving me with a lot of self-doubt. I now believe my struggles were linked to the fact that I was the first woman in the organisation.

Women need other women to succeed. The current progress towards gender parity is way too slow. Too many women will fail — even if we land great opportunities — because we’re often isolated. In the meantime, we need stopgap solutions to speed up the process. I am incredibly excited about the various ways in which is a space where women help other women succeed.

3. There’s a different voice — how cool!

Two years ago I read In a Different Voice, the phenomenal book by the American feminist / ethicist / psychologist, Carol Gilligan. It made a huge impression on me and made me understand the importance of gender parity in a whole new light.

Humanity as a whole will be soooo much better at solving the problems we face (and better at being human) when women become full participants.

For me, is an opportunity to contribute to a really important challenge the world faces. What’s more? I get to do it with a fantastic team!😁 (My colleague, Vishwani, wrote a great piece about it.)

Do I want in? Hell yes!

Keen to join?

More women in leadership positions — that’s our mission at If you’re keen to join us, check out all our open positions — we’re hiring across roles!

My first IRL meet-up with fellow members

a community-led professional network for women

a community-led professional network for women