Gender Gap: How to overcome the 6 Barriers Faced by Women Entrepreneurs
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Women entrepreneurs are defined as women or a group of women who initiate, organize, and operate a business enterprise. As per Government of India, women enterprise is “an enterprise owned and controlled by a woman having a minimum financial interest of 51% of the capital and giving at least 51% of employment generated in the enterprise to women”
As per a survey conducted in the year of 2017, only 2% of the start-up fund went to a women entrepreneur. Going by these statistics, it is somewhat clear that we as a country need to foster more on women entrepreneurship and create sustainability. However, the positive side is that many women are emerging as successful business planners and entrepreneurs and the paradigm is definitely shifting towards good.
The road to being a successful entrepreneur is certainly not easy and might be filled with many challenges for both men and women. But, considering the past scenario worldwide and especially in our country as a whole, women have faced certain challenges to break the barriers and create an equal space in the world of business and entrepreneurship. These may be cited as follows:
The status quo for women is definitely changing and is changing very rapidly. However, there had been a patriarchal notion in our country for a long time that women should be relegated to domestic and household chores. This especially stands true for the rural segment and smaller towns. India stands at a rank of 52 out of 57 countries on the basis of parity for women entrepreneurs in a study conducted by MasterCard Index for Women Entrepreneurs.
The Dearth of Women Investors
India might have a flourishing start-up ecosystem, but there are only a handful of female investors. Only a few women entrepreneurs have completed the lifecycle of entrepreneurship that includes- starting a venture, raising money, exiting it, and giving in to healthy returns. This is the reason why there are very few angel investors are women.
Women have to perform multiple roles in the aspect of familial or social perspective. In fact, it has been proven by a couple of studies that female entrepreneurship is hindered more by social and cultural constraints rather than access to finance. A female is supposed to look after family, especially the kids and juggling entrepreneurship with balancing life at home can be cumbersome for many. Not all of the females aspiring to be entrepreneurs have domestic assistance and this is when multitasking might serve as a hindrance towards the entrepreneurial aspirations of a woman. This is one of the major reasons why many women find it difficult to internalize leadership identity.
Finance is the lifeblood of business. That is why it is essential for women entrepreneurs to approach for financial assistance when the need arises. At times, there is an absence of tangible security or collateral security that many women might face. According to the Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI), women entrepreneurs expanding their businesses have financing needs that exceed micro-credit ceilings. Also, many women seek capital to be sourced from personal networks and not from the banks.
Many a time women need to be confined to one place or one city because of certain family obligations especially if they are bringing up their kids. This stands even truer if the woman is during her course of pregnancy or lactation that demands her to have limited mobility.
Lack of Awareness
Not just the right education or right knowledge is required for initializing a business, but a lot of other factors must be taken into account too, especially when talking about small-scale enterprises. Women in rural or semi-urban still do not have the right contact approach that might help them expand their work. Lack of proper advice and guidance is another reason that might pose as a hindrance for women to initiate and move ahead in their entrepreneurial ventures. There are as many as eight government schemes that are definitely helpful for any woman looking for success in business. But, women at times have either a lack of knowledge or lack of awareness about these especially in rural and semi-urban areas.
The Bottom Line
The society has witnessed a huge shift in terms of female entrepreneurship and it is welcomed by open arms at many places. But, there is a long way to go. We need to reduce barriers to women’s entrepreneurship through policies that support equal access to finance, rule out discrimination, and encourage women’s financial education.
Nevertheless, a successful entrepreneur be it a male or a female needs to stay curious, give way to innovation, and be ready to shatter all the barriers and always look beyond the status quo.