Entrepreneurship is one of the most important elements necessary to build the economy. Every nation tries to improve economic growth for prosperity and better living standard for its people, and an entrepreneur is a catalytic agent of change. In the past few decades, the role of women in our society has changed drastically and for the better. Women are now encouraged to occupy corporate positions. The gender stereotypes which were more prevalent in society decades ago are slowly getting dissolved. Women bring a different set of perspectives to problem-solving that can enhance the quality of the solution at large. The unique set of issues and experiences that women put forth helps in quality decision making.
In the Indian scenario, it is not a cakewalk for women to take any decision independently. She has to face many problems in carrying out any economic activities or undertaking any entrepreneurial tasks. She has to undergo various socioeconomic and other problems. As an entrepreneur, they are not treated equally to men due to social and cultural traditions.
In this golden age of globalization, digitalization and start-up booms, India is seeing a revolution concerning women entrepreneurs. Today’s women entrepreneurs do not come only from the established business families or the higher-income sections of the population, they come from all walks of life and all parts of the country.
Now in recent India, it is observed that there has been an increasing trend in the number of women-owned enterprises as the result of drastic change in the present world. Women are participating in large numbers in the present world of business. Women are successful in multiple professions like law, science, medical, aeronautics and space exploration and even in police and military services, along with they are showing their interest even in business and industry. They have proved that they are no less them men in their efficiency, hard work, or intelligence, provided they are given proper scope.
Researchers contend that women business owners possess certain specific characteristics that promote their creativity and generate new ideas and ways of doing things. Women entrepreneurs tend to be highly motivated & self-directed, they also exhibit a high internal locus of control & achievement. Women entrepreneurs have the unique tendency to build and maintain long-term relationships. They have more effective communicational, organizational and networking skills than their male counterparts.
According to studies, it has been observed that Women are very good entrepreneurs as they can maintain work balance in life. These factors may vary from place to place and business to business but women’s entrepreneurship is necessary for the growth of any economy whether it is large or small.
Significance of Women in India’s Entrepreneurial Sector
Indian women have been at the receiving end of criticism but much to the dismay of their sceptics, they have mostly appeared triumphant as the dust of criticism settled. The industry has much to gain and nothing to lose with women in business. The merits are innumerable.
• Indian industry’s think-tank gets bigger.
• New opportunities are created.
• More employment opportunities are generated.
• Per-capita income increases.
• Indians enjoy a better standard of living.
• Education and awareness become common.
• Future becomes brighter for the next generation.
• Women gain a better understanding of managing family and business concurrently.
• Indian women achieve a sense of self-realization and self-fulfilment.
• Women gain better ability to take risks and business decisions.
• Women become more confident.
Highly educated, technically sound and professionally qualified women must be encouraged for managing their own business, rather than being employed in any outlets. The uncultivated talents of young women can be identified, trained and exploited for various types of industries to increase the productivity in the industrial sector as well as the nation
Opportunities for Indian Women Entrepreneurs
Educated, gifted, and qualified females can enter virtually any business. Successful women have been representing and continue to represent brands like Times of India, PepsiCo, ICICI, TAFE, HP, HSBC and J.P Morgan along with other names. The list in the lines to come puts forward a few sectors where women entrepreneurs of India can excel as senior managers and owners.
• Eco-friendly/ Bio-friendly sectors
• IT sector
• Event Management
• Lifestyle sector
• Beauty and cosmetic
• Travel and tourism sector
• Food, food processing and beverages
• Plastic manufacturing
• Local and international trading
• Property and estate
Factors Driving Women to Start Businesses or Join the Workforce
Women entrepreneurs are empowering 50% of India’s start-up ecosystem, driven by:
- Recognition: Recognition in the form of admiration, regard, esteem and renown motivates women entrepreneurs. According to a survey by Bain & Company, more than 45% of Indian women in rural areas were driven to start a business for gaining recognition.
- Results: Women-led start-ups provide 35% higher ROI compared to those led by men. This ability to generate more returns encourages women to start their businesses.
- Fulfilling unmet needs: The inherent need in women to provide for the family is a key factor. As they make 85% of purchase decisions, the need to provide a better lifestyle motivates women.
- Education: India ranks among the top worldwide for producing female graduates in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) industry, with as many as 40% of women graduating from this field. Indian women are game-changers in the fields of science and technology.
Fortunately, recognising the significance of the socio-economic contributions of women entrepreneurs from semi-urban and rural regions, the government has brought forth several schemes and policies to enable women to start their enterprises. Some of these include the National Mission for Empowerment of Women, the Prime Minister‘s Rojgar Yojana (PMRY), Entrepreneurial Development Programmes (EDPs), Management Development Programmes and Women‘s Development Corporations (WDC).
Government Initiatives to Encourage Women’s Participation
The Indian government has increased the budget for Women and Child Development by 14% in 2021. It has set aside over Rs. 30,000 crores (US$ 3.97 billion) in FY21. This budgetary allocation also includes various development schemes as listed below.
- Bharatiya Mahila Bank Business Loan: This type of business loan was set up in 2017 to help women access cheap loans and dream big despite their lack of resources. The scheme provides loans of over Rs. 20 crores (US$ 2.46 million) for women entrepreneurs. A collateral-free loan can also be availed of for loans worth less than Rs. 1 crore (US$ 0.13 million).
- Dena Shakti Scheme: This scheme was launched for women entrepreneurs looking to start their business in certain sectors such as agriculture, retail and manufacturing. The scheme provides loans at an interest rate that is 0.25% below the base rate. The maximum loan application is Rs. 20 lakhs (US$ 26,468).
- Udyogini Scheme: This scheme is for women with an annual income of Rs. 1.5 lakh (US$ 1,985). It provides loans of up to Rs. 3 lakh (US$ 3,890) for women wanting to start a business but have no capital.
- Women Entrepreneurship Platform: This is a flagship platform started by NITI Aayog to promote women’s entrepreneurship. The platform hosts various workshops and educational events to motivate women to start their businesses.
- Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana: Even though the scheme was started to help anyone looking to set up a micro/small enterprise get an institutional credit of up to Rs. 10 lakhs (US$ 13,240), it was mostly availed of by women.
It is estimated that over 30 million more women-owned businesses are expected to provide 150–170 million jobs by 2030. This could be a game-changer and help the economic outlook look brighter than ever.