Women Entrepreneurship In India Sees A Multi-pronged Boost

Women entrepreneurship in India is not an unheard-of break from routine. In the Fifth Five Year Plan (1974-78), women empowerment and development were mentioned for the first time officially. Since then, initiatives and policies to support women entrepreneurship have been introduced periodically. The dawn of the 1990s saw economic reforms which further reinforced the idea of women supporting themselves and even families. Thus, they further the balance and productivity in the society through cottage industry-related business ventures or other forms of gainful employment and business avenues.

This latest turn of the decade is expected to ramp up women entrepreneurship in India to a whole other exponent. Digitization and rapid proliferation of social media marketing allow women to market their businesses right from their homes, through their hand-held devices. And the offering can be literally anything – from intellectual labor such as composing a design or a piece of writing to a personalized service such as personal shopping or a product. Scores of women in different economic classes, with or without formal training, become “home bakers”, “home chefs” or sell their needlework creations online. Others become purveyors of fashion garments or niche articles such as gift items, gardening equipment, or teach fitness classes online. The possibilities are no longer gendered – there are just as many technical document writers and coders as teachers or makeup artists.

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A confusing trend for women entrepreneurship? Not if it’s interpreted right

Experts of trends often deride the fact that Indian women’s literacy rate has been growing while the employment rate has taken an about-turn. Shock and dismay at this are well warranted. The GOI arm, the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, documents that decade-wise growth is deeply encouraging. The rise in literacy rates among females in rural settings from 2001 to 2011 has been 24% and urban settings is 8%, with an overall upward trend from 1951 to 2011. Still, economic shocks show up first on women, as is evidenced by the female urban Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) which fell sharply from 16.4% in May 2016 to 11% in mid-2018. Well into the coronavirus pandemic, the urban LFPR stands at 8-9% in most of the major cities. These statistics show that gainful employment hangs tenuously for women, who continue to be burdened by a combination of home-care, family-rearing, and care-giving responsibilities. Despite this, women entrepreneurship trends make their presence felt, mainly due to women’s tenacity as well as growing opportunity. For such scenarios, a bespoke personal-branded venture built around one’s strengths and strictures can well be the answer.

The Sixth Economic Census shows that a meager 14% of Indian women have their own businesses. But within this precious selection, nearly 80% are financed by the women themselves. An estimated 10% of the SSIs – Small Scale Industries – and SMEs – Small and Medium Enterprises are credited to women’s entrepreneurial ventures. When the socio-political and cultural hurdles are factored in, this is a substantial bedrock on which the next decade of women’s entrepreneurial growth in India can base itself.

Factors contributing to women entrepreneurship

The gradual shift to a gender-unbiased parenting order, family support, and societal regard for women entrepreneurship is growing slowly but surely in India. Side-by-side, the support in factors that matter is also taking off, as it’s outlined below:

Financial boost: Personal finance carriers create awareness about small business ventures and support initiatives for women. Government-aided schemes from Bharatiya Mahila Bank Business Loan, Orient Mahila Vikas Yojana Scheme, SIDBI’s Stand-up India, and Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Yojana are equally well supported by private players such as ICICI bank’s scheme for rural women, the Shakti Scheme by Bank of Baroda, and HerMoneyTalks funding scheme.

Female-led entrepreneurship incubators: Both new and existing entrepreneurs in India can look to incubators such as Her & Now facilitated by the Indian Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MoSDE) in conjunction with the German arm of Economic Cooperation and Development ministry; others on the list are Dhriiti, Catalyst for Women Entrepreneurship, and the IIM Bangalore-supported NSRCEL. We-Hub by the Government of Telangana and 5ideas: Founders in Heels are noteworthy in the way they bolster skilling and tech-enablement.

Women-focused networking: Web presence for female entrepreneurship support is on the rise in the age of digitization with forums such as Sheroes and Kool Kanya conducting events online and in several major cities.

Given these factors, among many others such as adult education, skill-development and care facilities for dependents, the rise of promise for women entrepreneurship in India in the new decade is ripe.


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