Women Entrepreneurship-An Indian Perspective and How much it can contribute to the economy?

Satyakam Ray

Pattachitra- the scroll-based traditional painting known for its mythological narrative and folktales inscribed in it, an art form primarily practiced in Odisha, is in grave danger due to the cunning of mediators. The exquisite hand-crafted illustrations are not getting their due price and credit but also their struggling master-makers- the magnificent artisans. 

Comes to the rescue- Zola India. Founded by an art geek turned accidental entrepreneur, Gina Joseph, Zola India focuses on cutting down mediators to empower the youth by enabling hassle-free better pricing. The main driving force behind this noble endeavor is the vision of a woman entrepreneur. Sounds intriguing, Is not It?

Women Entrepreneurship: In economics, an entrepreneur is an entity that can find and act upon opportunities to translate inventions or technologies into products and services. A commercially viable innovation, seed capital, talent, a penchant for high risk, and perseverance are the typical ingredients for a successful start-up venture. 

Particularly in the context of women’s entrepreneurship, the Government of India has defined women entrepreneurs as an enterprise owned and controlled by women having a minimum financial interest of 51 percent of the capital and giving at least 51 percent of the employment generated in the enterprise women. Many argue the second part of the definition is not practically feasible always.

In today’s cut-throat competition, one needs to focus continually on the present, track all the market trends, and be adaptable to cope with any unforeseen change. The inner warrior should dictate the rules to fight against all the odds to run a successful venture. What exactly embodies the values of Goddess Katyayani, the warrior goddess Durga? Durga, from the root word ‘durgam’ itself, represents fearlessness. Rural women entrepreneurs have inculcated this trait very profoundly.

Some examples of rural entrepreneurship: Ekta Jaju, the founder of ONganic Food, championed the case of organic farming by helping and persuading farmers to switch to organic ways keeping the business financially sustainable and scalable. Anuradha Agrawal understood the insecurities of homemakers by studying their inability to speak English fluently. So, the inception of the Multibhasi app, till now, has modeled English learning in 10 different languages. Similarly, Kalpana Saroj, the CEO of Kamani tubes, hails from a very humble background, and still, she has made it through her efforts. These awe-inspiring success stories confirm that one does not need IVY league degrees or fancy MBAs to triumph in entrepreneurship. Instead, grit, perseverance, and self-confidence are prerequisites to establishing a successful venture.

Successful ventures: Women entrepreneurship’s ambit does not stop only in the rural economy sector. But in tech, women have also often plunged into “boss mode.” Some of the best entrepreneurship ventures run by women in India and worldwide are given below.

  • MobiKwikUpasana Taku, the co-founder, left her job at PayPal to realize her potential in the digital payments sector. Users can add money to the MobiKwik wallet and conduct online transactions. According to the latest reports, its net worth has surged 134 percent to Rs 379 crores in FY20.
  • Yatra.com: Sabina Chopra, the co-founder, had identified the potential of travel commerce in India and demographic shifts in cheaper travel options. So, she ensured that the online platform was ready when people suddenly shifted from traditional travel booking to online booking. Earning a revenue of INR 192.0 million (USD 2.5 million), Yatra.com is one of the trusted travel booking sites in the tourism domain.
  • Embibe: AI-backed online learning platform Embibe focuses on impacting the online education scene through the robust use of AI, machine learning, and data analytics. Its founder Aditi Avasthi was awarded the ‘Accenture Vaahini Innovator of The Year at the Economic Times Prime Women Leadership Awards 2019.
  • Zivame: Dealing with the taboo subject of lingerie buying, Richa Kar started Zivame to give women an online platform option. Despite constant ridicule, Richa continued to Zivame, with a net revenue of $13.59 Mn (INR 100 Cr).
  • TaskRabbit: Leah Solivan started the company to revolutionize how people work in the digital landscape. The app is intended to make people more productive by helping to organize their days and offering schedule management support.
  • Re:3D: Re:3D is a technology business that wants to transform the manufacturing industry by providing 3-D printers worldwide. Her previous stint at NASA as a strategist and her vast travel experience helped Samantha snabes to figure out the need for 3-D printing on a global level.
  • Cloud9Insight: This Brighton-based technology business offers more than 600 businesses across the UK support with its cloud-based CRM software. Carlene Jackson is the Founder and CEO of Cloud9Insight.
  • Entrepreneur First: Alice Bentinck co-founded Code First: Girls to teach more than 5000 women across the UK how to code. In 2011, Bentinck also co-founded a business called “Entrepreneur First.” This was designed to bring people together in the tech environment so that they could build start-ups using shared knowledge and expertise.

The List of achievements of women entrepreneurs in the leadership role continues. It is impossible to list all the women entrepreneurs (both Indian and global) under the purview of one single article!

Issues faced: Despite massive success in entrepreneurship, front-runner women entrepreneurs have faced many problems and stigmas in the long run and are still fighting some obstacles. Indian women entrepreneurs still have to overcome family resistance, male chauvinistic attitude, lack of funding, scarcity of raw materials, networking issues, and low risk-bearing capability, to name a few problems. On the contrary, advanced economies help women entrepreneurs with optimum seed capital, better infrastructure, ease of doing business, connectivity to investors and clients, etc. Still, they face biases and male-centric business prejudice sometimes.

Some stats:

  • India has around 58.5 million entrepreneurs, and nearly 14% are women.
  • In 2017, only 2% of start-up funding went to a woman founder. About 1/3 of Indian women entrepreneurs work in agriculture, followed by manufacturing and retail trade.
  • 30% of India’s tech workforce is female. Although 51% of entry-level jobs in India’s IT and BPM industries are women, women leave at junior and mid-levels.
  • Radhika Agrawal of the e-commerce marketplace Shop Clues made history as India’s first female co-founder of a billion-dollar company.

 ( Statistics Content Courtesy- helloalice.com) 

Importance of Women Entrepreneurship in the Indian context: Women’s position and status in society are the accurate barometers of civilization’s progress. Post-1991, with new economic liberalization policies, globalization, and privatization, Indian women have become financially independent. Still, a lot of grounds to cover, though. 

Any shot at economic development programs without involving women will be an utter failure, to say the least, considering half of the population is women. Moreover, entrepreneurship is not a male-dominated prerogative at all. Also, it is pertinent now to empower women entrepreneurs a bit more as our economy is shrinking. More involvement of women entrepreneurs in the economy will make it stronger. 

A 2015 study by McKinsey Global Institute shows India’s GDP could rise by 16-60% by 2025 if women participated equally with men in the economy. Projections show that this could mean a whopping $2.9 trillion added to the economy.

Govt. role in promoting Women entrepreneurship: Indian Government has been very instrumental in promoting women entrepreneurs in India. Some of the steps taken by the govt are listed below.

  • The MSME organizations, various state Small Industries Development Corporations, Nationalized banks, and even NGOs are conducting programs to educate potential entrepreneurs, including Entrepreneurship Development Programs (EDPs).
  • The Office of DC (MSME) has also opened a Women Cell to coordinate and assist women entrepreneurs facing specific problems.
  • Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) has also implemented special schemes for women entrepreneurs.
  • Under Prime Minister Rozgar Yojana (PMRY), preference is given to women beneficiaries. The Government has also made several relaxations for women to facilitate the participation of women beneficiaries in this scheme.
  • Some of the noteworthy schemes of the Indian Government are as follows: Trade-related entrepreneurship assistance and development (TREAD) scheme for women, Support to Training and Employment Program for Women (STEP), and Swayam Siddha.
  • Various state governments are also promoting women’s entrepreneurship. The Delhi government’s Stree Shakti project, Kerala’s women Industries program, the Magalir Udavi Scheme of the Puducherry Government, and the Goa govt.’s incentive for women entrepreneurs – all aim at one thing only- women’s economic development.
  • Various Self-help groups (SHGs), the Federation of Indian Women Entrepreneurs (FIWE), and Women’s India Trust (WTI) are testimony to the promotion and empowerment of women entrepreneurs in India.

The recently concluded Durga puja gives us a lesson for global women empowerment and management. Inner strength, grit, fearlessness, calmness, multi-tasking, adaptability, and leadership are intrinsic to Indian women- whether they are housewives or CEOs working in skyscrapers. Giving due respect and recognition to these women powerhouses on the auspicious occasion of Durga puja is the duty of the whole society. Entrepreneurship is about standing for one vision and ensuring its complete execution wholeheartedly. 

Very rightfully said by Maya Angelou, the famous American Poet,” Each time a woman stands for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands for all women.”

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