Women entrepreneurship is not a new concept in India.
The tuition teacher to whom you send your child, the lady who baked a cake for your child’s birthday, the local parlor lady who styles your hair and gives you a beauty treatment are all entrepreneurs.
So, though women are considered as secondary earners, our country has never been agnostic to women entrepreneurs.
They consider these businesses as a way of creating a sustainable income for the family and supporting the husband by earning extra money.
However, today the definition of women entrepreneurship has undergone a sea change and rightfully so.
As a leader of women entrepreneurship vertical, I am happy to notice the confidence that the women entrepreneurs exude.
They no longer consider their business to be a small scale, local setup. They look at it as a brand that deserves recognition on a larger scale. For them, it’s not just a means to earn a secondary income and support the family. It is a dream that they nurture with a lot of passion.
From starting a Facebook or Instagram page to promote their business to attending networking events to pitch their business, they do everything within their power to build their brand and get more customers.
Today, women are not just dominating the bakery, beauty, and coaching business, but are also making a breakthrough into fields such as technology and consultancy that were traditionally male-centric.
For example, some of the well-known technology and e-commerce companies such as LogiNext, MobiKwik, and Shop Clues have women at the helm of the affairs.
This trend has also come to the notice of both government and private companies as they have taken various initiatives to mentor women entrepreneurs.
For example, last year, Niti Aayog, the think tank of the Government had announced the launch of a platform called Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP) that provides access to women entrepreneurs to achieve their entrepreneurial goals. The platform assesses the ideas and validates it, supports the entrepreneurs by offering them legal advice on registration, patents etc. and provides them with mentorship on how to pitch and fund their startup.
In fact, to encourage women to discuss the innovative areas of economic development, the Niti Aayog sent a delegate of women entrepreneurs early this year, to Washington to interact with State Department and Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the members of the US Chambers of Commerce. The government is offering proactive support to women to empower them with knowledge on running the business independently.
Similar to the lines of Niti Aayog is Facebook’s initiative ‘She Leads Tech India’. She Leads Tech India focuses on empowering women founders of technology startups. The initiative provides the entrepreneurs with tools, community access, and mentorship to build a successful business.
The good part about this initiative is the established women entrepreneurs mentor it, so that makes it easy for the mentor and mentee to discuss the challenges without any preconceived notions and find solutions to address them.
There are many more initiatives such as WISE initiative or the Women for Women Innovators, Social Leaders and Entrepreneurs that are playing an active role in promoting the spirit of women entrepreneurship in the country.
So, is women entrepreneurship finally shining?
Well, sadly not yet!
It is true that the landscape for women entrepreneurs is changing for the better.
It is true that they are receiving support from the government and private companies. But, there is still a long battle of changing notions to be fought.
India is the third country in the world to have the most number of startups, but only less than 9% of them have women co-founders.
According to me, there are two reasons for this –
- Women are still considered a secondary earner of the family unless dire circumstances push them into becoming the main breadwinner. So, big, unconventional business ideas are usually discouraged by family, friends and even financial institutions and are pushed into the back burner. The ideas are never discussed again.
- Women themselves are sceptical of becoming entrepreneurs due to fear of failure. And it is understandable; women do not get a second chance after a failed attempt like their male counterpart. So, they prefer to give up on their aspirations and settle in for a ‘safe’ job rather than embark on the entrepreneurial journey.
However, entrepreneurship is full of risks and challenges irrespective of your gender, and one cannot fathom how it would turn out to be unless you try it.
So, if you are a woman with a business idea, then I would recommend you to give it a shot.
Forty years ago, when Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, decided to start Biocon from a garage of Bangalore, there was hardly anyone to support her. But, her grit and passion for making the business a success have made her one of the most powerful women entrepreneurs in the World.
Today, you have the right tools, mentors, and government support to help you succeed. So, put on your thinking cap and put your ideas into action.
Even if it fails, you always have your experience and education to fall back upon!