'Though Not Fully, Digitization has Solved Problems for Women Entrepreneurs'

According to Shailja Dutt, founder and chairperson of Stellar Search, being an entrepreneur for women was difficult 20 years back and the situation has evolved very little

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The journey of an entrepreneur is not easy. It requires more than 100 per cent of both effort and time of the entrepreneur to build a business from scratch and then sustain it. While hurdles are faced by every founder irrespective of gender or age, the path becomes more difficult for women. While the start-up ecosystem in India has grown exponentially over the years, there are still far less number of women founders or investors in the ecosystem compared with men.

Shailja Dutt, Founder and Chairperson, Stellar Search

Shailja Dutt, founder and chairperson of Stellar Search, a global executive search company, said women entrepreneurship was difficult 20 years back and the situation is still the same. However, the ecosystem is growing and more dialogue around women entrepreneurs is now happening due to digitization. On this Women's Entrepreneurship Day, let's take a look at how Dutt went on to become a founder to solve her personal problems and has inspired many women to balance their work and family life.

According to 2018 Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE) report, India ranked 52nd out of the 57 surveyed countries in the Index of Women Entrepreneurs. According to the report, the underlying conditions for women to become founders in India are less favourable.

Related Story: 98 Percent of VC Funding Goes to Men. Can Women Entrepreneurs Change a Sexist System?

Digitization Helped Creating Ecosystem 

While speaking with Entrepreneur India, Dutt said entrepreneurship is still difficult for women but digitization has helped in creating an ecosystem around it. “It's not easy, but it's very rewarding. If you have the ability to persevere then it's extremely rewarding to see how one is doing her own thing and is also helping others grow,” Dutt said.

According to Dutt, digitisation is also helping in creating the ecosystem and making it easier for women to tell their stories and reach out to each other. “One can reach out to tell their stories, reach out to entrepreneurs-led support groups where women come forward and support other women. And that ecosystem is just phenomenal. Thanks to social media and digitisation, that ecosystem that's slowly getting created and it is really amazing.” 

Dutt’s Entrepreneurial Journey  

Dutt began her entrepreneurial journey after founding Stellar Search in 1998 after realising the gaps in the executive leadership hiring space. She said prior to this, she worked as a professional with a global executive search global executive search firm during which she was having troubles with managing her job and her two-year-old son. 

She believed that with Stellar Search, she will be able to reduce the gaps in the leadership hiring space with the use of technology and also solve her issues by managing her personal and professional lives better.  

“I think the bigger issue that I was trying to solve was a problem in my personal life. I just had my first child then and he was only two years old, and I was really struggling with the amount of travel that I needed to do in my job, the long hours that I needed to work and it just felt that I wasn't giving enough attention to my son and I thought that maybe becoming an entrepreneur will allow me to have my own hours and it will help me then focus on balancing my life between a job, career and also my home,” Dutt said.

Dutt had led Stellar’s position in driving the search for great leaders. Over the years, the company claims to have a demonstrable track record of hiring for leadership positions in India and overseas. For the last 17 years, the company has worked with over 1,000 companies across the globe including Fortune 100 firms to medium-sized businesses and entrepreneurial start-ups. Stellar has offices in New Delhi, Mumbai, Singapore and Cape Town.

Dutt’s Advice To Other Women Entrepreneurs

Dutt encourages women entrepreneurs to not give up easily. “Don't give up because there is pressure at home. It's really about having those conversations communicating, talking about what you need,” Dutt said.

She also advises women to go ahead and find a support system for themselves and talk to other women to understand how they managed their journey and find inspiration.