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Women Empowerment and Entrepreneurship; A Look at the Cracks that Still Exist

Women Empowerment and Entrepreneurship; A Look at the Cracks that Still Exist
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If I were to ask you to close your eyes and imagine an average entrepreneur, I think it’s fair to believe a clear majority of us would imagine a man in a suit, probably holding a briefcase or at the end of this large boardroom table. If I were to ask you to name a couple of success stories from the Indian startup ecosystem, at random, it's fair to believe the first few names will consist of Sachin Bansal & Binny Bansal, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Kunal Behl and if I took the game international - Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg will take the cake.

It’s not like women success stories do not exist, the matter of fact remains that they are considerably fewer in numbers compared to their male counterparts. Being at a position where I am privileged to meet diverse entrepreneurs from various sectors on a regular basis, there a few facts and perspectives that draw my attention regularly.

The Society we live in

We are a product of patriarchal society, which leads to several by-products that impact the lives of women directly and indirectly. In India, a woman’s primary duty is to look after her children and other members of her family. Her primary duty often leaves her with little or no energy to devote for anything else let alone business.

Risk Aversion

Leading a protected life, women often refrain from risk undertaking which is an essential requisite of an enterprise.

Problems of Finance

Liquidity or financial support is the ‘life-blood’ of any enterprise be it big or small. Banks often consider women less credit-worthy owing to lack of collaterals/ property to the disposal for obtaining funds from external sources.

Lack of Mobility

While the situation has considerably improved, women are still uncomfortable travelling alone or moving to a new city keeping in mind their own security. 

Confidence

We may as well blame all of the above-mentioned factors for this, yet it is an undeniable fact that women often suffer from an acute case of self-doubt.

It happens much often that a slight margin of innovation separates the winners from the losers in the startup world. Including both genders equally might just be the edge you require to bring in diverse perspectives in the boardroom. Women fail to reach their full potential, not necessarily because they lack the skills but due credit also goes to the limited number of women-specific schemes that do not encourage innovative entrepreneurialism.

The existing ones are mostly geared towards women who enter entrepreneurship for survival, to generate an income and not for expansion. Today, establishments owned by females, provide employment to 13.45 million people in India – an influential statistic that urges support for women entrepreneurship.

As the entrepreneurship sector contributes significantly to driving job creation, in an era where unemployment has reached unprecedented levels in our country; It is only imperative, that we ensure all parts of our society are given their due chance to participate in this economically valuable pursuit.With the conversations and numbers around women participation in the Indian economy grow, we look ahead at encouraging parity where women enjoy the same support as men do to pursue their calling.

 
Edition: May 2017

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