Namaste! My name is Anu Bhardwaj and I am the founder of Women Investing in Women Digital, a global media platform focused on women’s economic empowerment. Unlike some baby girls in South Asia who are killed even before they are born, I was given a chance to come into this world and do amazingly great things to the point where my life, my work, my goals, and my dreams are JUSTIFIED.
Many girls born in my part of the world have their fates decided at birth – who they will be, what that will be, who they will marry, and ultimately where they will live, with whom, and how they will ultimately die. They are financially constrained and, in some instances, brutally abused, (psychologically and verbally for the most part), from infancy until the time they marry. Some will continue to be abused by the “traditional” families they marry into. Their dreams, in fact, fundamentally do NOT matter.
In many instances, these women are at the mercy of culturally ingrained patriarchy, which is obvious to most. What the world remains shielded from, however, is the ruthlessness of misogynistic matriarchy that ultimately controls the fate of the next generation of emotionally helpless and financially constrained women. What the world has yet to understand is that WOMEN, particularly in South Asia, are our own worst enemy and the true force holding other women back.
I was blessed to have a fierce maternal grandmother who believed in giving her daughters, daughters-in-law, and granddaughters the chance that SHE never had. She had a seventh-grade education and was married by the time she was 14 and always told us “ladies” that if she had the opportunity to continue in school, all of our lives would have been different, including her own. My grandmother taught me how to speak, how to walk, how to read and write Telugu and Hindi, and eventually how to be my own woman, dream my own dreams, and LIVE my truth in ways that she never could.
I went on to graduate from Ashley Hall, an all-girls debutante school in Charleston, South Carolina as a Barbara Bush Trustee Scholar, followed by eight years at Georgetown University half on FULL scholarships studying everything and anything my heart desired. I went on to win $500,000USD worth of graduate scholarships to live, work, and travel to over 60 countries around the globe, earning an MBA at the Stockholm School of Economics, where I learned Swedish and fell in love with all things Scandinavian, including their commitment as a nation to gender equality. I also did stints at the National University of Singapore, and a Fulbright Scholarship to the Indian Institute of Technology Mumbai where I did a Global Benchmark in Women in Private Equity.
During my time at all of these world-renowned institutions, I learned about the importance of gender lens investing and how this field will not only revolutionize the way women entrepreneurs fund their dreams but will also fuel the global economy with the impact we ALL dream of and deserve. I became a master at raising capital after my stint at the Indian School of Business working with leading private equity and venture funds such that I was invited to partner with the US Department of Commerce and the US State Department in creating a disruptive private placement alternative in raising BILLIONS of dollars from premier institutional investors, sovereign funds, pension funds, and family offices across the Nordics, Latin America, Central Europe, and the Middle East for multi-billion-dollar US private equity and venture firms. During this time in my professional career, I LEARNED how the game was played. YES, the SAME one where women have ALWAYS been and will continue to BE a minority, pushed into a corner. As this has been my all-consuming obsession, I learned what I needed to, what makes MEN invest in other men, repeatedly, again and again, over and over. With the commissions I earned from many savvy investors and highly supportive mentors, I created Women Investing in Women Digital, a safe space where those of us who have been given a chance are READY, WILLING, and ABLE to pay it forward. Our global community of over 985,000 FB followers across 150 countries in six continents shares one common belief: that shared prosperity is the right way forward for humanity. The world has a TRILLION-dollar opportunity for global economic GROWTH when women are given a FAIR chance to live, learn, and contribute to their maximum ability. This fall we will be launching SHEQONOMI, a suite of mobile apps on Android, iOS, and KaiOS that will amplify the voices of thousands of women podcasters around the globe focusing on business, entrepreneurship, investing, health, and professional development—positioned to reach the next billion who are waiting for their chance and their turn to live, learn, and participate in a global economy that treats them as EQUALS. FOR. THE. VERY. FIRST. TIME. Welcome to 2021. Welcome to SHEQONOMI.
Woman Investing in Women
Before founding Women Investing in Women, Anu Bhardwaj spearheaded the 2010-2013 U.S.Department of Commerce private equity and venture capital Certified Trade Missions to the Nordics and the Middle East, representing over $175 billion USD private-equity and venture-capital interests resulting in over $750 Million USD of capital raised in collaboration with the International Trade Administration, the U.S. Embassies in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, the Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the Sultanate of Oman. Her client list includes top-tier global private equity, venture capital, and fund-of-funds such as Irving Place Capital, Castle Harlan, W.L. Ross, Pegasus Advisors, NEA, Tullis Funds, New Leaf Venture Partners, CHL Partners, Cubera Private Equity, Bertram Capital, Lion Capital, Walden INDIA, Novak Biddle, Alinda Capital, New Atlantic Venture Partners, Top Tier Capital, Pantheon, Pathway Capital, TH Lee, and Veronis Schuler Stevenson.