08 December 2019

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‘Nation’s Growth Linked to Growth of it's Womenfolk’

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Dr. Robita Sorokhaibam, a faculty in the Dept of Commerce, Manipur University, is an M.Com; Ph. D (In Entrepreneurship, Marketing, and Business Environment & Policy) with a teaching experience of 13 years at P.G. level. She has completed more than 60 dissertations and is presently guiding 6 research scholars. She is also participating in a UGC Major Research Project entitled ‘Problems, Prospects and Opportunities of Women Entrepreneurs in Manipur.’Dr. Sorokhaibam explains to Small Enterprise India the various issues particularly pertaining to women entrepreneurs in Manipur Society.

She has been appointed as an Expert member of Xtreme Wave under Sikkim Manipal University, IIE Guwahati. Other women related programmes on the anvil are launching of a programme on social entrepreneurship under IIT Kharagpur, preparation of a project on women entrepreneurs in the entire North-east region. She has written 15 articles in various national and international journals and has even delivered several lectures on entrepreneurial development making her eminently qualified to speak on entrepreneurs in Manipur Society. 

Can you give the readers your review on Women Entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurship is the burning issue in today’s economic development. It also plays an integral role in socio-economic transformation, as it can generate large-scale employment with relatively low investment.

The present era is that of women’s empowerment where they are trying to excel in every field. But the fact still remains that a woman can find her space only when she is financially independent. Setting up of Women Entrepreneur’s Guidance centres to tackle various problems of women entrepreneurs all over the state is quite essential.   This point emphasizes the importance of women entrepreneurs.

What have been the contribution and the role of women in Manipur economy?

The women of Manipur are known for their active participation in the social, economic, cultural and political life of the State. They do not stay behind the veil, and do all the buying and selling in the rural as well as urban markets. Women in the North-East have traditionally been doing trade and managing markets.

The Khwairamband Bazar located in the heart of Imphal, which is also known as Nupi Keithel,(women market) and is one of  the biggest market in Asia controlled and run by women. It has a distinctive position, because of its function as a controlling institution of women that affects and contributes to the whole economy of the state. It is a glaring example of how women continue to play a role in the economy and society, which is a continuation of the earlier form of social structure.

The advent of colonialism in 1891 integrated Manipur to world-wide capitalist system, developed transportation network, which further enabled the women, to extend their trading activities throughout and beyond Manipur. No doubt that market plays a significant role in their socio-economic life.

Tell us specifically about Manipur Women Entrepreneurs?

Over the past few decades women have been breaking the barriers of their four walls. The role of modern women is much more than what it was previously of only being a house wife/mother. But to become an entrepreneur does arouse a little dilemma in many Manipuri women who have the potential for becoming one. However, earning some quick bucks has been the basic motive for women here to start entrepreneurship.

They have a deep-seated need for independence along with a desire to do something meaningful with their time and to have their own identity instead of remaining closeted behind their husband’s nameplate.

Women of Manipur with high education view entrepreneurship as a challenge, while for women with no education background becoming an entrepreneur is merely a means for earning money. These women needed little ‘pull’ and ‘push’ for venturing ahead as their circumstances force them to take up any venture. On the other hand, women, from good financial background do need ‘pull’ and ‘push’, as at times they themselves are unaware of their own talents and capabilities and want their husbands/ family members to decide the manner in which it should be utilised. Most of the women entrepreneurs in Manipur are either housewives or fresh graduates with no previous experience in business.

They took up entrepreneurship as a challenge and have gone through many transitions coming out from traditional to non-traditional one.

What are the problems faced by Women Entrepreneurs of Manipur?

Women entrepreneurs here face many hurdles. Social support is a key determinant in entrepreneurial establishment. In Manipur the most common problem, which a woman faces, is the non-cooperation from her husband or close family members. Majority of the time the family members do not motivate them. Besides they face other problems like mobility constraints, dual responsibility, low managing ability, risk-bearing ability etc. They don’t lack managerial skills but they have less promotional ability, which they need to improve upon.

Scarcity of raw material and finance are another problem faced by the women entrepreneurs of Manipur. The standard of technology used by the women entrepreneurs of Manipur is qualitatively low, they are poor in technical know how. Transportation difficulties, improper power supply and telecommunication are some of the other problem faced by them. Marketing problem is the biggest problem faced by women entrepreneurs/traders in Manipur.

What are the future prospects for Women Entrepreneurs in Manipur?

In any society, the lives of those who have their finger on the pulse of change and who equip themselves with the necessary skills are considerably enriched. All the signs indicate that women entrepreneurs are particularly sensitive to change and well positioned to take advantage of them. Manipuri women have some strong characteristics, required and relevant for entrepreneurial development such as ability to manage details, dedication to work taken up, tolerance and smooth attitude towards people. It is also believed that women are more capable of taking risk and facing misfortunes than men. Women entrepreneurship gained currency in the recent past due to the general recognition of entrepreneurship as a quick route to the socio-economic development of the country by planners.

The recent reservation policy on women and the changing attitude of the society in present days towards women indicate that a bright future awaits them.

What according to you are the steps needed to bring women entrepreneurs on par with their male counterparts?

Women should be considered as specific target group for all development programmes. Govt. should extend better educational facilities and schemes to women folk. Adequate training programs on management skills should be provided to women community. Encourage women’s participation in decision making.. Vocational training should be extended to women community to enable them to understand the production process and management.

Training on professional competence and leadership skills should be extended to women entrepreneurs. Activities in which women are trained should focus on their marketability and profitability. State Finance Corporations and financing institutions should permit by statute to extend purely trade related finance to women entrepreneurs. And lastly women’s development corporation has to gain access to open-ended financing.

What opportunities are available for Women Entrepreneurs in Manipur?

Considering the flow of women entrepreneurs in the traditional industries, it is often criticized that the women entrepreneurship in Manipur is engaged  only in  handloom and handicraft and in the non-traditional term, their aspect have broaden into new line like hotel line, Xeroxing, Beauty Parlour business,  incense stick making, candle making etc.

In the last decade, there has been a remarkable shift it emphasizes from the traditional industry to non-traditional industry and services. Based on this concept, some important opportunities are being identified, considering the socio-economic, cultural and educational status and motivational level of  women entrepreneurs in Manipur, particularly projects with low investment, low technical knowhow and assured market are suggested for them such as  production of soaps, detergents, ready- made instant food products including pickles, spices, papad, manufacturing of woolen goods, beauty parlor business, typing centre, job contracts for packaging of goods and distribution and household provision etc.

What do you have to say in conclusion?

The role of Manipuri women in social, political, cultural and economic field is significant. India is a male dominated society and Manipur is no exception. Women are assumed to be economically as well as socially dependent on male members.  The absolute dependence seems to be diluted among the high and middle class women as they are becoming more aware of personal needs and demanding greater equality.

Women entrepreneurs faced lots of problems at start-up as well as operating stage like, non availability of finance, restricted mobility freedom and having to perform dual role one at home and other at work. Technological advancement and information technology explosion have reduced the problem of women entrepreneurs. Along with technological revolution, mental revolution of society is needed to change the attitude of the society and provide women with democratic and entrepreneurial platform.

Empowering women entrepreneurs is essential for achieving the goals of sustainable development and the bottlenecks hindering their growth must be eradicated to entitle full participation in the business. To conclude all I will say is “A NATION CAN NEVER GROW UNTIL AND UNLESS ITS WOMENFOLK GROW.” 

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 17 August 2010 13:54 )  

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