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Puja Mapxencar | Kandida

Puja's passion and love for innovation has been instrumental in ensuring that Kandida becomes a name to reckon with across the country. This 23-year-old is driven, always on the go and is ready to explore new avenues. Puja, the young entrepreneur, has always had an eye for detail. She has been able to understand the lifestyle of her target audience and thus come up with Kandida. A dreamer and a believer, Puja's inclination to create and reinvent, has pushed her to become a successful designer. Versatile, independent and an ethnic lover are some words that describe Puja.

Primarily from Goa, she spent eight years of her life in Germany. She is grounde and in touch with her roots. Simple and traditional, Puja finished her schooling from St. Josephs Institute, Goa. Puja did not end up being a tech geek, and took up a vocational stream in Commercial Garment Designing and Marketing at the Carmel College. She is also a Fashion Design Graduate from NIFT, Bangalore.

The brand, Kandida is a dedication to her three Idols of her life. Her grandmother Kanchan, father Dinesh and grandfather Damodar. The family lived in Germany for more than three decades and were referred to as 'Indisch Artz Famille' (The Indian Doctor Family). Despite all the German influences, India was the only source of inspiration for this brand. The name Kandida was created using the first syllable of their names, Kan(chan) + Di(nesh) + Da(modar) = Kan-Di-Da.

Puja was always passionate about Indian ethnic wear but felt that there was a need for something fresh and aesthetically pleasing. Hand printing techniques ruled the design scene and Puja began her journey playing with fabrics sourced from organic roots paired with handmade digital funky prints. Puja wanted create experiences, rather than just outfits. The brand is an online designer wear brand that sells Indian eco-ethnic funky wear. It is also available on shopping portals like Amazon, Flipkart, Shopclues, Cheerkart.com, Paytm, Snapdeal, Craftsvilla, Shopo and Kraftly.

Its first flagship store opened at Nizmar Centre, AB Road, Panaji Goa. The brand has also extended its creative wingspan and tried its hand at making silver, semi-precious, terracotta, poly-clay, ceramic and gold plated jewellery. Organic, quirky Indian fusion wear at Kandida gives the customer a never-before experience.

Puja is multifaceted and wears many hats. She is also the CEO of Cheerkart.com and founder of a travel group 100 Sundays Throwback Goa. She has many awards and accolades in her kity. She has been awarded as the best Rotaractor of the Year 2015 at Rotaract Club of Vasco-da-gama for her excellence and Professional, community and Club service for Rotaract Vasco-Da-gama. She also showcased Kandida's latest collection, Escape-O-Nature, at Bangalore Fashion Week Winter-Festive 15th edition along with South Indian Actress Shubra Aiyeppa.

In Goa, Puja's efforts and dedication as a budding designer and entrepreneur has been featured in Timeline Goa Magazine, Vasco Watch, Goan Observer, Viva Goa, Nahvind Times(Zest Edition), Business Goa Magazine, Danik Herald, Tarun Bharat, Gomantak times, Gomatak Varta, Goa TV, RDX Goa and Goa doot local TV channels. She has also had the opportunities to speak about her label and achievements on air for Hello Goa with RJ Pankaj at Radio Mirchi Goa 98.3 FM. In Bangalore she has been featured in many newspapers like Indian Express (INDULGE), Eenandu, Andhra Jyoti, Deccan Herald and Deccan Chronicles. In August 2016, she got a chance to write an article for the startup designers on entreprenur.com. Many online bloggers like werearethecity.in, unkrate.com, whatshot.in, lookbangalore.com etc interviewed her as one of the budding designers of India. She was also invited to be the judge for a Goa state level Fashion Show Topsy-Turvy at Ravindra Bhavan, Goa.

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Anurima Roy | Entrepreneur

I have held top positions across the publishing industry in India, with the biggest players in both editorial and marketing. Having worked with the world's biggest writers, I realized it's time to do something for India, small publishers and Indian writers who have been struggling to make a mark in an ecosystem which is dominated by the big international players. I am a consultant and entrepreneur now helping to make a difference to take majority of the Indian writing abroad and promote our literature.


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Megha Bajaj | Miraaya Holistic Growth Centre

I have grown up in the ever changing, ever alive city of Mumbai. I come from a land that is steeped in sages and spirituality, in yoga and meditation, in diversity and divinity. All of these have been an integral part of my growing up years as the youngest member of a 25-member joint family. Loud, opinionated, loving family – who would suddenly turn silent as I would ask them questions like, what is love, who is god, who makes everything work? An unconventional student of sorts, I would prefer bunking school, sitting on my terrace that faced the sea and think about Life.

This, I believe, lay the foundation of Miraaya Holistic Growth Centre – the first centre across the world dedicated completely to working on the BEING of a child or adult, with little focus on the DOING. I believe we need an education system that needs to get children LIFE READY and not just EXAM READY. We don’t teach children chemistry, but we do teach them about the chemistry of relationships. We don’t teach children history, but we do teach them about how to become history makers. We don’t teach children language from the text books – but instead make them fall in love with communication itself. We operate as an after-school development set-up and also tie up with schools to bring in the miraaya magic within curriculum.

We started with one centre at Chembur and today have franchisees at Tardeo, Lokhandwala, Pune, Ghatkopar and three more coming up at New Jersey, Singapore and Dubai.

I also happen to be a word-a-holic. I have written a few books – and each has given my soul deep fulfillment. The first, at 23, was Thank You Cancer published by Hay House. This won a lot of media acclaim and was written about in Times of India, The Hindu, DNA, Dainik Bhaskar, Mumbai Mirror, Life Positive, Reader’s Digest and many more. It also got translated into two languages.

The next was a series for Grade 1-Grade 8 called the WoW Text books. I have attempted to make English come alive with key life skills and this series has been adopted by a few schools in India.

Finally, the last book is called I Inspire – the story of Neerja Malik as told to Megha Bajaj. This has been published by one of the oldest publishers in India called Jaico. Thousands of copies have been sold and the publishers see this as a potential best seller.

Children, words, love and laughter– keeps me waking up each morning believing Life is Beautiful.


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Suniti Nanda | Barclays

A leader, executor and innovation evangelist - with an executive business management from IIM-C, I have been in the Banking industry for over 15 years.

I have completed a B-Tech from NIT Rourkela, and come from a conservative family background. In the past I have taken some hard stands to pursue my career to this stage.

Currently, I am heading the Mobile channel development for South Africa in Barclays. Innovation is my passion; hence I led the Rise Mumbai setup and currently part of the execution core committee (www.thinkrise.com). This is the global innovation co-creation platform created by Barclays.

At work I have taken credit for starting from scratch and setting up highly energetic dynamic team to deliver excellent products to market in most agile manner. I have deployed Agile in cross location dynamic development environment in banking development areas.

Outside work, I am a Social Investor and Member, Engagement committee for Rang De Pune. Rang De is a crowd funding platform which works in financial inclusion space and has a target to enable people and eradicate poverty from India. I am also a marathon runner and follows a fitness regime through yoga or gymnasium. My long term goal is to become a social entrepreneur.


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Dilshad Billimoria | Dilzer Consultants

Dilshad is an independent Certified Financial Planner, certified by Financial Planning Standards Boards of India; and Director of Dilzer Consultants Private Limited: Investments and Financial Planning Division.

Dilzer Consultants is a Sebi Registered Investment Advisor. The organisation provides Professional Investment Advisory and Financial Planning Services for a fee.

Dilshad Billimoria has over 14 years of experience in the financial advisory domain. With over 262 clients and Assets Under Management of over 150 crores, we have created financial peace and independence in the lives of many people and helped them realise their financial goals.

Our clients are from all over the world, including, India UK, USA, New Zealand, Brazil, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Singapore. We offer a progressive planning practice that differentiates itself by being disciplined, well researched and profitable. Our processes and practices start at grassroots, ensuring all angles are covered in the decision making process.

It is our belief that by providing a personalized and consistent service experience, we ensure long and fruitful relationships with our clients.


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Neha Arora | Planet Abled

Neha Arora, is the founder of Planet Abled, an organization which provides accessible and inclusive travel solutions for people with different disabilities.

With a totally un-utilized degree up her sleeve, Neha worked with companies like HCL, Nokia and Adobe before taking the plunge to start Planet Abled.

Born to parents with disabilities and the personal challenging experiences faced in travelling, she realized a huge gap existed in the society. When it came to people with disabilities indulging in travel and leisure activities, no avenues were available.

St. Augustine said, 'The world is a book and those who don't travel, read only one page.' Then why should one miss out on reading the most beautiful chapters of life just because s/he has a disability? Planet Abled was conceived to fill this gap and give people with disabilities the freedom to travel and to break their limitations. Giving them an avenue to visit places freely and confidently, leaving behind social inhibitions and apprehensions about their capabilities.

Planet Abled has been awarded the NCPEDP-Mphasis Universal Design Award for the year 2016.


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Akansha Kataria | BlackRock

Akansha Kataria is Head of Gurgaon Portfolio Compliance Group. In this capacity, she is responsible for implementing controls and processes necessary to ensure compliance with all applicable firm-wide thresholds and client requirements relating to trading and investments.

Akansha's service with the firm dates back to 2005, including her years with Helix Financial which was merged with BlackRock in 2010. She has held a variety of roles within the Financial Markets Advisory, global team focused on providing advisory services to public and private institutions. Prior to her current role, she had been part of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) project management team, responsible for implementation of FATCA in the APAC region. Akansha earned a MBA degree in Finance from Birla Institute of Management Technology in 2005.

She launched Women's Initiative Network (WIN) in BlackRock India office in 2011 and made BlackRock at par with industry's practices. She is currently driving the culture of appreciation though Employee recognition initiative and thereby driving employee motivation and engagement at India platform level. She has also led APAC Innovation and Connectivity initiatives in India office. She led the Diversity and Inclusion initiative for Portfolio Compliance team and established initiatives at a global level to foster collaboration amongst all operations members across functional groups (Regulatory / Business Management) and global teams (Americas / EMEA / APAC).


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Piya Bose | Girls On The Go Club

Piya Bose started Girls On The Go, a travel club for women after quitting her job as a lawyer in 2008. She started off on a zero cash business model and today sends women on expeditions to Antarctica, Northern Light viewing in Arctic, camping in Mongolia, trekking to volcanoes, meteorite craters, Everest Base Camp, and staying with the tattooed headhunters of Nagaland with the aim of empowering women through travel. Today, she has managed to get men join the dialogue in helping women rediscover themselves through travel. She has also spoken at various forums and inspired new startup founders to take risks and follow their dreams.

She is also a freelance travel writer with National Geographic and has blogged for 'WeAreTheCity'. She is currently learning Sanskrit to study ancient manuscripts that may hint at geological and climatic factors that led to the disappearance of the Indus Valley Civilization and how we can apply the learnings to our times.

Her next aim is to get women with disabilities and from less privileged economic backgrounds to experience a perspective shift through travel and make travelling truly accessible for all women.

Nominee additional information 2018

Nominee additional information 2018

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Step 1 - Rising Star Awards checklist

Please note: if you do not wish to accept any of the below, then you will no longer be eligible to continue with the process.
*excluding Entrepreneurs category


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Harsha Saxena Mukherjee | Harshamukherjee.com

Harsha Mukherjee, an entrepreneur, studied engineering and management in India and the US. After starting her venture "Pearls and Pashminas" in the US and working in the Middle East she started her first Social Venture Ekjaa in India. Harsha was awarded National Social Entrepreneur Fellow (NSEF - 2011) and selected as one of the Top 10 Indian Women Entrepreneurs by DELL Women Entrepreneur Network (DWEN-2012). She also recognized the emerging significance of CSR and guided various Private and Public sector companies in developing their CSR strategy.

She has served organizations such as IndiaCSR, Soul Ace, Indian Center for CSR (ICCSR) among them. She has been awarded CSR Visionary of 2012 by Lakshya Bhartiya Foundation (LBF) and CSR Women Leader - 2012 by Institute of Public Enterprises (IPE), GIANTS International Award (2013) for committed work in noble services and Women Excellence in CSR (2014) by Lala Management Institute - Mumbai.

In 2012, she founded CSR Development Stories Pvt Ltd and in 2013 co-founded CSR Advisors both the businesses are in CSR Consultation. In order, to fill the gap of CSR knowledge, she has launched International Institute of CSR in 2015. Ms. Mukherjee has authored book Sustaining CSR (CSR Basics).

She has consulted on CSR Projects to NGOs such as Empower people (Haryana) working on human trafficking issue, Each One Teach One (Mumbai), Shekinah Foundation and Network for physically disabled Organization (NPDO) (both working in Differently abled), Naandi Foundation, Omkar Builders Corporate House, Living Guard Water purification social venture and other similar organizations. She also runs Ekjaa Foundation where they run public libraries in the slums of Mumbai. At present the library has 7000 books and regularly conducts books donation camps in schools, colleges and public places such as malls.


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Oindrila De | Barclays

Oindrila is a dreamer in her 20s who juggles multiple lives. When she's not poring over spreadsheets at her workplace (Barclays Investment Bank), she escapes into the wilderness to get her creative juices flowing. She's one of India's favourite travel bloggers (https://oindrilade.wordpress.com) with a fan-following of over 10k on Instagram. She often writes for travel websites and magazines. Her interviews have appeared on various platforms and some of her articles have been recognized.

Additionally, she's an avid runner, and has finished long distance runs in the mountains of the Himalayas and the Sahyadris and several other Indian cities, villages and forests. In 2015, Oindrila became the first Indian to complete the Danske Bank Vilnius (half) Marathon in Lithuania.

Oindrila believes in giving back more to the society than she has received. She has mentored over 100 students and blue-collar workers through NGOs that work with the lesser privileged and the visually challenged. In her zeal to reduce the culture-distance between Barclay's employees across the globe, she won executive backing for her idea- Culture Lab.

Oindrila is also a corporate Toastmaster (trophy winner at the Area Level) and a certified dancer in Katthak and ballroom dances (rumba, cha-cha, jive, samba and paso-doble).