Guest AuthorNeha Bagaria

Kalaari Capital Backs HerKey (formerly JobsForHer): A Game-Changing Investment in Gender Diversity and Inclusion

By | Vani Kola |

HerKey (formerly JobsForHer) – India’s largest career engagement platform for women in India, has secured a $4 million funding round from Kalaari Capital, 360 ONE Asset and angel investors including Zia Mody, Puneet Dalmia, Pramit Jhaveri, Aditi & Shuchi Kothari, KP Balaraj, Ranjan Pai, Neeraj Bajaj, Akash Bhansali and others. 

Vani Kola, the Founder and Managing Director of Kalaari Capital, is one of the leading investors in HerKey. This funding round showcases the growing support for HerKey’s transition from a jobs platform to a comprehensive career engagement platform exclusively for women in India.

We would like to emphasize that the following content is a repost of a blog authored by our esteemed investor, Kalaari Capital. This insightful piece was authored by their founder, Ms. Vani Kola. We highly recommend visiting the original blog post on the Kalaari Capital website to gain a comprehensive understanding of the topic. Additionally, you can find Ms. Vani Kola’s corresponding LinkedIn post here.

Let’s delve into the factors that led Vani Kola to invest in HerKey and explore the exciting future prospects for this transformative platform.

The state of women’s workforce participation in India 

Today, only 20% of India’s female population is a part of the workforce. Despite rapid economic growth, declining fertility, and an increase in education of women in India over the past three decades, the female workforce participation rate has been consistently below developed and emerging economies (with female labor force participation at 60% in China and 55% in the US)  

India is the 3rd largest hub for startups and the 5th largest economy in the world, but the country consistently ranks bottom 10 in the world for women workforce participation. A report by McKinsey Global Institute has estimated that just by offering equal opportunities to women, India could add US$770 billion to its GDP by 2025. Clearly, India’s economic growth story is closely intertwined with the story of women’s empowerment in the workforce. 

For urban women, several factors – including lack of mentorship, limited representation at the top, and unfavorable work-life balance – lead to employment drop-off rates. Globally, multiple large tech platforms are successfully solving gender diversity in the workplace and community mentorship for women.  

Given the state of India’s skewed gender workforce ratio, we strongly believe there is a large opportunity to build a digital platform focused on improving the state of women’s careers in the country.   

We are excited to partner with HerKey’s opportunity to bring community, mentorship, and hiring to a very underserved client: the Indian working woman.  

Why we (Kalaari Capital) invested in HerKey (formerly JobsForHer) 

Market Opportunity 

With millions of qualified women seeking employment opportunities, there is a significant gap in the Indian workforce that needs to be addressed. Building a platform to support women at all stages of their careers can not only help address this challenge but also contribute significantly to the growth of the Indian economy. 

The total addressable market for women’s career platforms in India is estimated to be $3.5 billion. This includes direct recruitment, where the total addressable market is approximately $320 million, and continuous learning, which is a $5 billion market with women comprising 40% of this market. 

With over 36 million women on LinkedIn in India, there is a significant potential for a paid membership model that offers exclusive access to networking opportunities and industry experts. 

Globally, companies like Chief and The Mom Project have raised multiple rounds of venture capital, highlighting the demand for women’s career platforms. However, India currently lacks a scaled platform for women. We believe there is a large white space to build a large women’s career platform in India. And, that the influence of such a platform will not only drive significant impact on the Indian economy but also contribute to the global conversation on women’s empowerment in the workforce. 

Resilience and Visionary Founder

Neha’s personal experience with motherhood inspired her to launch the initial version of HerKey (formerly known as JobsForHer) which started as an online portal that helps women re-enter the workforce after a break. Bagaria, a Wharton graduate, took a three-year hiatus from her career after the birth of her first child and struggled to return. Understanding the challenges of a working mother first-hand, Neha built the jobs platform to connect women seeking to start, restart or rise in their careers with companies willing to hire them. Neha’s resilience and leadership have shaped HerKey into India’s largest women career platform today.  

Product Vision: From Jobs to Community

HerKey (previously known as JobsForHer) has been a self-funded, profitable jobs platform in its previous avatar. The fundraise will enable HerKey to broaden its current product, which solely serves as a job portal for women, into a comprehensive career engagement platform aimed at unlocking and enhancing the economic potential of working women. 

With a community of over 3.5 million women job seekers, 10,000+ employers, and 800+ learning partners, HerKey is a pioneer in creating scalable solutions for increasing women’s participation in the Indian workforce. The platform connects women with the right jobs across levels, provides learning opportunities to enable them to upskill and reskill, and provides communities for women to professionally network. The company’s vision is to enable women to achieve their full economic potential by unlocking opportunities, learning and communities for women across different phases of their life and career journeys. The platform caters to the three largest cohorts of women professionals – Women Returnees, Women In Tech, and Women In Leadership – and is increasing its reach to include Women Starters and Women Entrepreneurs. 

We have been impressed by the growth trajectory that HerKey has accomplished over the years and are excited to partner with the platform as it scales beyond jobs to become the largest women’s career engagement platform in India.

Neha Bagaria, the Founder and CEO of HerKey, expressed her excitement at the funding round, stating that “We are grateful to Kalaari & the CXXO platform for their support in helping us create a more inclusive workforce for women in India.”  

Managing Director, Kalaari Capital, Vani Kola writes  

“A digital platform like Herkey is the need of the hour as women’s participation in the workforce grows. A platform like this helps women facilitate the exchange of diverse knowledge, perspectives and enables women to interact without being constrained by time and location. Neha, as founder and CEO, has done a stellar job in building this platform that has enabled many women to come back into the workforce after a break. We have been impressed by their growth trajectory, I personally believe that women business owners are more fiscally prudent and run strongly anchored businesses” 

HerKey has grown to service over 3.5 million women across India and plans to scale to power 30 million women’s careers in India.Read more here: YourStory

About HerKey

HerKey (formerly JobsForHer) founded by Neha Bagaria is India’s career engagement platform that unlocks opportunities, learning, and communities for women in India by connecting them with career champions. HerKey currently services over 3.5 million women and plans to scale to power 30 million women’s careers in India. With over 10,000 companies on the platform, HerKey invites more companies to join and use the platform to engage with women candidates in their entire career lifecycle, from recruitment to retention to promotion. HerKey seeks to be the dependable companion for every woman on her career journey, enabling her growth, opening up opportunities, creating meaningful engagement, and facilitating her career journey – onwards & upwards.

About Kalaari Capital

Kalaari Capital is an early-stage, technology-focused venture capital firm based out of Bengaluru, India. Since 2006, Kalaari has empowered visionary entrepreneurs building unique solutions that reshape the way Indians live, work, consume and transact. The firm’s ethos is to partner early with founders and work with them to navigate the inevitable challenges of fostering ideas into successful businesses. At its core, Kalaari believes in building long-term relationships based on trust, transparency, authenticity, and respect. 

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