Demolishing deeply-entrenched patriarchal norms and mindsets, women entrepreneurs in India have emerged at the forefront, taking the onus to change the economy for the better. According to the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO), only 14% of pan-Indian establishments are run by women - however, this has not deterred them from making their mark and contributing to the growth of businesses and the economy as a whole.
Battling narrow and prejudiced mindsets, the dearth of capital and family support, and cut-throat competition in a field dominated by men, women entrepreneurs are gradually making their way to the acme of corporate success while carving their own niche and distinguished identities.
Here are some reasons why India is in dire need of more women entrepreneurs, who, with the help of sheer determination, grit, and talent, can strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem in multifaceted ways:
1. Women entrepreneurs can foster strong and ethical company cultures with a focus on safety
A positive, structured, and ethical company culture is a must for the explosive growth of any business. While innumerable male-headed companies have growth-conducive and robust work cultures, studies indicate that women-owned firms tend to have better company cultures and values, along with greater levels of transparency. In these companies, collaborative and interpersonal relationships are richer, and stricter policies against workplace harassment are in place. Having carried the double-burden of juggling the home and the world for aeons, women understand the importance of work-life balance better than most men. Consequently, the companies they run allow a greater amount of flexibility to all professionals, irrespective of gender. Also, there is an added emphasis on the safety and well being of women, in order to root out the stigma surrounding sexual harassment, menstrual and maternity leaves, mental health, etc.
2. Women entrepreneurs can contribute immensely to India’s economic growth
The increasing influx of competent and ambitious women in the workforce is a positive sign, as their concentrated efforts have helped the economy flourish in noteworthy ways. While the number of women seeking and securing employment in India has quadrupled over the years, their participation in the realm of entrepreneurship has been minimal. This warrants the need to urge more women towards entrepreneurial ventures, which remains a reservoir of untapped potential for women, who can come forward to do their part in furthering innovation and excellence.
Moreover, a Goldman Sachs report states that most women entrepreneurs possess the gift of the gab, deft organizational and networking skills, and the unique ability to forge and maintain long-term strategic alliances. No wonder entrepreneurs, such as Indu Jain (Chairperson; Bennett, Coleman & Co.), Indra Nooyi (CFO & President, Pepsico), and Richa Kar (Founder, Zivame) are such indomitable forces to reckon with!
3. Women entrepreneurs can provide much-needed funding to women-led startups
While it is true that the startup arena is tough to conquer, irrespective of gender, the problems faced by women-led or women-dominated startups eclipse all else, especially when it comes to VC/Angel funding. Needless to say, access to capital is absolutely crucial for the sustainability and long-term growth of all businesses, and unconscious, deep-rooted mindsets deter some investors to grant Series-B and Series-C funding to women-led businesses.
While this scenario is undergoing change, wherein more investors and accelerator programmes are making sure that women are provided with equal footing in the business world, we can do so much more. Established female entrepreneurs can come forward and support women-led startups by providing mentorship, funding, infrastructure, key services, and lucrative networks to help them take a leap in the right direction.
Apart from inspiring other women to conquer corporate zeniths, these businesswomen can help bridge the gap between male and female professionals in the workforce, which in turn, can lead to a 20% increase in global income (per individual) by the year 2030. This complements the predictive facts presented in the latest McKinsey Global Institute Report, which states that the obliteration of gender disparity in the workplace holds the potential to add $12 TRILLION to the global GDP by 2025!
Apart from these factors, entrepreneurship can provide women with the strength and confidence to bloom, to devise ingenious business strategies, to reap ginormous profits while actualizing their vision. In order to grasp the nuanced significance of the scenario, one has to keep in mind that an astonishing 49% of entrepreneurs in the country are women. With the rise of funding initiatives by the likes of Sheroes, an enterprise spearheaded by Sairee Chahal, immense career and networking opportunities are being made available for women entrepreneurs who are an integral part of the Indian startup ecosystem.
With the potential to impact 100 million+ women by the year 2025, these initiatives aim to address and remedy critical issues, while ushering in innovation, creativity, growth, and success. Hence, to answer the pressing question:
Can women entrepreneurs transform the Indian economy? Yes, they absolutely can!