Women Entrepreneurs: Shaping The Future Of India
The presence of passionate women leaders has a positive impact on aspiring women, as they have access to strong networking and learning opportunities that used to be exclusively available to men just a few decades ago. Women support other women
Roshni Nadar Malhotra, Meena Ganesh, Kiran Mazumdar, Falguni Nayar, Kalpana Saroj
Do any of these names ring a bell? It’s difficult to be part of the business ecosystem and not come across many such illustrious names. The recent wave of entrepreneurship in India is set to be led by women. From managing only their hearth and homes just a few decades ago to leading large organizations, creating and building for tomorrow, women are making dramatic strides towards a better future.
However, for meaningful, lasting change to take place, corporations, governance and family units have to all come together. Women entrepreneurs need the same tools as men to succeed -access to funds, mentorship and a supportive work and home environment that allows them to thrive.
Current statistics putting forward a strong case
A report published in January 2022 states that about 20 per cent of women are MSME owners, accounting for 23 per cent of the labour force. While these numbers may look impressive, there continues to remain an underutilized potential which no one talks about- $700 billion can potentially be added to the global GDP by simply increasing women’s participation in the labour force. There are 15 million women-owned businesses in India against 432 million women in the working age group in our country!
As per a research done by BCG and MassChallenge, startups founded and cofounded by women actually performed better over time, generating 10 per cent more in cumulative revenue over a five-year period: $730,000 compared with $662,000.
Advantages of women-led businesses
Women-led businesses have a more inclusive work culture, three times more women in workforce, better work-life balance, high precision-work, better productivity levels. Women have commendable leadership skills, high risk taking appetite, multitasking, better adaptability and a much higher emotional quotient(EQ).
Unlike the obvious economic impact, the long term impact of female leaders on the mental and emotional health of the average worker can be difficult to compute - but is significant. Despite a largely unsupportive and non-women friendly work environment, women are continuing to step up in the world of business. Despite a largely unsupportive and non-women friendly work environment, women are continuing to step up in the world of business. From access to better education to progressive governmental policies, let us look at the driving force behind this change.
1. Support from the Government of India
Govt schemes like the Bharatiya Mahila Bank Business Loan, Dena Shakti Scheme, Udyogini Scheme, and the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana are focussed towards empowering women across different strata of life to build small businesses of their own by providing access to capital.
2. More opportunities
Workplace inclusion and diversity are slowly becoming buzzwords today. Industry 4.0 is carving a space for women to bring their solutions into their market and giving them the opportunity to learn and enhance their expertise. Recognition in the form of admiration, regard, esteem and renown motivates women entrepreneurs. According to a survey by Bain & Company, more than 45 per cent of Indian women in rural areas were driven to start a business because it would bring them recognition. A word of caution - it’s imperative that today’s leaders don’t allow Diversity and Inclusion to remain just buzzwords but make them a way of corporate life for the future workforce.
More women today are entering the traditionally male dominated fields. India ranks among the leading countries worldwide with respect to the number of female graduates it produces in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields (as many as 40%). Indian women are game changers in healthcare and technology domains as well. Women leaders in the healthcare segment in particular are paving the way for the next generation of drugs, diagnostics and last-mile care delivery, which is the need of the hour.
4. Financial capability
Gone are the days when women did not even have a bank account. Today, they make their own purchase and investment decisions. Financial independence and prudence are two key factors that are enabling women to start out as entrepreneurs and earning them a voice in their households.
5. Mentorship opportunities
Women today have enhanced social, financial and intellectual support compared to the yester years. The presence of passionate women leaders has a positive impact on aspiring women, as they have access to strong networking and learning opportunities that used to be exclusively available to men just a few decades ago. Women support other women. Many successful women entrepreneurs are encouraging and mentoring others to start their own journey.
6. Change in social dynamics
Shared responsibilities at home will lead to changes in the traditional gender-defined roles and will enable women to take their rightful place in the formal workforce.
The road ahead is not without its challenges. The progress of women entrepreneurs is till marred by lack of investments, inequities and inequality at the workplace, as well as discrimination at multiple levels. The idea of a startup, leveraging funding, turning it into a unicorn are all things everyone loves to hear and read about. However, for most people, the terms “startup” and “women led” still do not resonate.
A shocking revelation made by Google in 2022 was - Out of the funding that happens in India, only 6 per cent goes to a company with a women founder/co-founder. Slicing it down, for companies with only women founders this number is close to 1.5 per cent. The global male-to-female entrepreneur ratio is 10:7 as per the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Report, 2021.
The funding divide in much larger as mentioned above. Last but not the least, women continue to carry the major burden of household responsibilities including caring for children and the elderly. Only when the load is shared equally can we have an equitable workforce.
Women bring with them the qualities of collaboration, communication, and problem-solving acumen. They are adept in soft skills and possess higher emotional intelligence, are more democratic and empathetic – all qualities that define a successful entrepreneur. Despite these qualities and the overall bullish environment, there continues to be a gap.
Lack of opportunities for a great business idea simply due to gender bias can prove to be a net loss – for the economy at large and the society as a whole. “When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” – Audre Lorde, writer and feminist.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house
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