Women and Entrepreneurship in India
Till a few decades back all we saw were a majority of women confined to merely tailoring shops and few other patented areas such as beauty. It was in the last couple of decades that women have forayed into areas such as jewelry making, pottery, medicines, etc. Families who were traditionally into business activities often felt a sense of awkwardness or were even plain wary of relinquishing the reigns of their activities to the daughters of the family. Many families considered keeping their daughters away from their trade as they would get married and might reveal the ‘business secrets’ to their husbands’ household. A classic example of families preferring menfolk over the daughters is the famous Bathini Goud family known for its annual fish prasadam in Hyderabad. The secret composition of the prasadam is known only to the men and their wives. The daughters are not privy to the information as they would eventually get married and can also be pressurized to reveal the composition of the prasadam1.
However, things have been changing and elders of the business are slowly getting to witness the dormant business acumen of their women-folk bloom taking their business to hitherto-unknown height of success. Of course, it has taken many years of hard work and persuasion to make the world believe that women too can be equal to men, cerebrally.
Women entrepreneurs on the rise
When the Sixth Economic Census was released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, women constituted around 14% of the total entrepreneur base in India. This means roughly 8.05 million out of the total 58.5 million entrepreneurs are women2. According to statistics of 2019 Women’s Web Survey, Mumbai had the highest number of women entrepreneurs (30%) and Pune had the lowest (5%). NCR and Bangalore ranked in second at 15%.
While many of the womenfolk have been able to make their mark on the timeline of the Indian business scenario, there are many more who have forayed and are on their way up the ladder. Some of the very successful names are Kiran Mazumdar Shaw of Biocon, noted fashion designer Ritu Kumar, Vandana Luthra of VLCC, a beauty and wellness conglomerate to name a few. In recent years we have seen a lot of YouTubers4 such as Shirley Setia, Nisha Madhulika, Vidya Iyer, and more. There are many Instagrammers and bloggers who are entrepreneurs in their own right. These women have not only made a mark for themselves doing what they love the most but are also generating income out of the same.
Believe in yourself
There are many reasons that have been often quoted to be the roadblocks to success towards successful entrepreneurship. Some of them were securing finance and market-related information gaining knowledge of the field, the process for commercial production, and other technical details enabling mass production. In a blatant exhibition of sexism, creditors are often found to have less trust in women while extending finance5. While there may be valid reasons for a fund refusal such as lack of a watertight business plan or not having enough credit ratings to their name, some loans get rejected merely due to gender bias. This is because women are considered to be risky borrowers and do not instill confidence in the creditors that they could succeed6. According to the 2019 Women’s Web Survey, a whopping 91% of women have used their personal savings to fund their ambition as compared to a meager 9% who could manage to get loans either from family or from other sources2.
Apart from the reasons mentioned above, ignorance of matters pertaining to the legal aspects of the entire process2 as well as battling prejudices from the society and self doubt3 too have been a few challenges faced by women entrepreneurs. Being primary caregivers, there is a constant battle between the home and their business aspirations. It is never easy and women are often forced to juggle both amidst skepticism on her inability to manage or her strong drive.
Self-Believe is the key
So what exactly do all these women entrepreneurs in India and the world over have in common? What is that X- factor that drives these women to accomplish and succeed in life? Well, the biggest factor in them all is their confidence to pull in and immense self-belief in them. These women never took a no for an answer and have treaded along braving all the challenges, to be what they are today. While we emphasize the word ‘self-belief’ so often, we must also talk about taking calculated risks. It can be suicidal to jump into a business idea without weighing its pros and cons, to begin with. It is, therefore, imperative for an entrepreneur and more so for emerging women business owners to find out the following
- The right business which may be your area of passion
- Whether or not you need technical expertise to enable mass production in future
- The right target audience and the network area for promotion and guidance
- Other information such as options for finance, marketing, and long term prospects of the business
While women have witnessed quite a handsome growth in being a businesswoman according to statistics, there is surely more that can be done. All you need is to think of something that is sustainable and offers value to others. Figure out what you are best at such as public speaking, motivating, cooking, technical expertise, teaching, designing, etc., and network more with people to know how others have done it. Improvise and pitch in to make a mark. While this may be easier said than done but perseverance and self-belief could really pay you off in the long run.
A computer graduate and a content developer, Priyanka has been into content delivery for over 10 years with a focus on academic and learning solutions-based content. Being a writer, she is not genre-specific and dabbles in both technical and non-technical content with ease.
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