About Success and About Possibilities
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India is home to nearly 18% of the world’s population and women make up almost half of that number. The story of women entrepreneurs in India is as much about success as it is about possibilities. There is empirical evidence to show that, for decades now, numerous Indian women have made a significant contribution to the country’s economy. Some have left an indelible imprint on the global stage. An even larger number of women in India’s rural and informal sectors have been silently adding value year after year. Women thus have a crucial role to play in driving the Indian economy to the aspirational US$5-trillion milestone by 2025. India’s booming start up ecosystem is already benefiting from the energy of dynamic women entrepreneurs. Of the 6,300 start ups recognized by Start up India currently, nearly 2,500 have a woman as founder, director or partner. Encouragingly, nearly 60% of these women entrepreneurs started their business between ages of 20 and 30.
Today, women have realised that they can be as successful as their male counterparts and with sufficient encouragement, achieve any feat. The recent budget presented by Nirmala Sitharaman, India’s first full-time woman finance minister, announced support to women self-help groups in villages by the MUDRA scheme and by NABARD. As part of the government’s ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’, the economic package introduced during the pandemic, opportunities announced for MSMEs and SMEs, including those led by women, to further their businesses.
It would be worthy of mention that even under the trying circumstances of the pandemic, a handful of women entrepreneurs in India showed the way forward by taking up social entrepreneurship, to assist those in financial need, while ensuring their business stayed afloat during the crisis.For example Vaishali Chinnayya, CEO of Nimble vision, who pivoted and built a contactless mobile-based thermometer to enable screening of people to detect their temperature. Another example is Suhani Mohan of Saral Designs, who developed a machine to provide affordable hygienic sanitary napkins. With the outbreak of Covid-19, they repurposed the machine to produce three-ply surgical masks to assist frontline workers.
Information Technology has no gender barriers and the internet offers the perfect level playing field for everyone who wishes to access information. With more than a billion mobile subscribers in India, mobile technology can be leveraged by women entrepreneurs. In a country like India, where a majority of women work in the unorganized sector mobile technology will help them create market opportunity. This will not only help increase income-generating opportunities but will also lead to greater gender equality.
Today’s woman needs to develop a sense of self-confidence, determination, hard work and business intelligence to chart her way to the top. A sense of overall perseverance is very essential. I am proud to be a woman and strongly believe that the world belongs to those who want to make a difference.I believe women entrepreneurs hold the potential to unleash transformational societal change and sustainable economic development and can ensure that the fruits of economic development are enjoyed by all. In the words of one of India’s most inspirational leaders, the late President APJ Abdul Kalam: “Empowering women is a prerequisite for creating a good nation, when women are empowered, society with stability is assured. Empowerment of women is essential as their value system leads to the development of a good family, society and ultimately a good nation.”
(This article was first published in the March 2021 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)