Celebrating the Rise of #Shepreneurs
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In my editorial role, I get to attend and speak at many conferences and business meets both in India and abroad. It gives me great opportunity to meet and observe women entrepreneurs and study their behavior, leadership styles, which often do not get highlighted. As a country, India has unique traits and opportunities for women entrepreneurship to proliferate and these initiatives need to be encouraged in their own turfs instead of trying to push them into a definitive style and scope of starting a business.
According to National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) around 14 percent businesses in India are run by women entrepreneurs but I feel the figure is much more than that. It does not take into account the family business cult in India where the millennial women are today contributing informally to the business in many ways. They may be handling many functions of the business from finance to marketing but they may not necessarily be counted in the ranks of entrepreneurship. These women have a sense of ownership, which is very big and that shows in their performance. After gaining enough confidence, a majority of them also launched their own ventures and make them a success. In India, we would probably see more women entrepreneurship off shooting from the family roots than pure play — do it my own way style of building a business. Here age, skills and learning curve is not the main concern but learning on the job teaches one a great many things.
CONSUMER AND LIFESTYLE BUSINESS
Over 60 percent of women-led ventures come from the lifestyle and consumer-facing segment largely in fashion, wellness, food, healthcare, education, and interior decoration. A majority of tech ventures too have these sectors as the foundation. Paired to this, there are very limited entrepreneurship education opportunities and case-based learnings that exist within these segments. It also gets reflected in the ratio of the number of investors willing to invest in women-led companies as opposed to those led by men. It is naturally very low. It is thus, creating women entrepreneurship cells at the government level won’t be enough. It calls for a deeper understanding of women occupations in India and building accelerators around it.
It is wonderful to witness a significant rise in the number of women who are building their own startups. Most of them are professionals who saw an opportunity and built a startup around it. They are becoming successful but we need more women to go through a complete lifecycle of entrepreneurship: starting a venture, raising money, exiting it, giving in to healthy returns. Unless this happens the ratio of investments in female- and male-led ventures won’t change. Indian women entrepreneurs have been traditionally working either for necessity or for keeping themselves occupied. There is very less evidence and successful case studies around women entrepreneurs who have built large enterprises. Scalable entrepreneurs are the ones who foresaw opportunities five years before they were visible to the common people. This issue is dedicated to shepreneurs who are changing the self-belief system for women entrepreneurs as a whole. The women who are featured have been there and are ready to do whatever it will take to reach the infinite.