Entrepreneur Arpita Banik tells us why it's so important to give back to the community
Arpita Banik, the director of Ajanta Shoes had simple ambitions - whatever she did, she wanted to do it differently. Besides taking the 64-year-old company to new heights, she is also famous for her philanthropic ventures. So, how did the business icon get her start? Here’s finding out:
Did you have a vision when you joined the company?
Of course. At that time we had 82 stores and right now we have 105 stores across West Bengal, Bihar, parts of Orissa, and we’re working to go pan-India. I personally wanted our retail stores to keep up with the fashion trends and to feature modernisations in designs, billing set-ups etc.
You’re from Chahattisgarh...
Yes, I’m from Bilaspur. I hail from a middle-class family. Then of course, I got married and whatever I’m today, a whole lot of credit goes to my husband Subrata Banik. They say, ‘there is always a woman behind a successful man.’ But in my case, it's the other way round. He has always supported me, be it in business or my personal life or my social work.
I have always had simple ambitions, but I wanted to do something different. I believe in giving back to the people, I’m involved with a number of welfare projects; I think giving back to the society is crucial.
Have you ever struggled to be taken seriously?
I started work at ICICI Bank, then I joined Mercedes Benz, post which I became a part of Ajanta, so it’s been a really eventful trajectory. I have learnt how to not treat people. I always treat my workers or my staff like colleagues, and there are challenges to every job, yes. But I have managed to move past it.
A woman who has inspired you
I’d say Chanda Kochhar, the former MD of ICICI Bank, she’d inspired me immensely.