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#3 Key Challenges that Women Face While Starting Up in India "Starting a PR company without a male co-founder was a daunting task for me"

By Komal Nathani

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Donning an entrepreneurial hat is not everyone's game. It takes courage, commitment and most importantly persistence to begin the journey and sustain in it. Indian women have come a long way when it comes to entrepreneurship.

But the Sixth Economic Census released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation last year portrays a grim picture in terms of the number of women in business, especially in comparison to their male counterparts.

Is it just the gender-biasness that women face while venturing out, or there are other challenges barring the entry of women in India Inc?

To decode the true reasons, Entrepreneur India spoke to a few women entrepreneurs about the challenges they faced and their life lessons.

Gender Biasness

Neha Bahri, Founder of Media Updates Communique (PR agency), said in her three years of entrepreneurial journey she has battled a lot of gender-biasness in her attempts to grow her venture in the PR and media industry. "Starting a venture without a male co-founder was a daunting task for me. People still have this perception that women cannot be good in strategizing marketing techniques in India."

Bahri stressed that she did get the moral support from family and friends, but that was never enough. She said there is limited opportunity for women to grow when it comes to PR and media business.

Lack Of Women Mentors in Tech Sector

"A woman in the tech industry, especially one who is trying to start on her own, has to be extremely strategic in terms of time-management. This is, however, true for every field," said Shalu Yadav, CTO & Co-Founder of Sniffer.

"Lack of role models and mentors for women in the technology sector is a big problem. Those enrolling in engineering courses do not have anyone to look up to. Women, no doubt, get jobs, but do not pursue their careers in technology passionately. Also for women, the standard for doing well in life, as is set by the society, is graduation, marriage and then starting a family," rued Yadav.

According to her, it takes a little more effort for women to establish their credibility as tech entrepreneurs, even if their skills match men's, who make 90% of "techpreneurs'. Their overwhelming numbers give women the feeling that they do not belong here, she added.

Policy Hiccups

Having worked within smooth and favourable policy framework in world's top economies like the US and France, entrepreneurs often find it tough to deal with time-consuming, procedural work when they come to India.

President of Bahrain-based Bramco Group and Founder of Ka Design Atelier Kanika Dewan pinpointed challenges like bureaucratic red tape and bribery practices to be overcome in India. India-born but Bahrain-based entrepreneur Dewan is the face behind the designing of two of the world's largest airports —The New Delhi International Airport: T3 and Chattrapati Shivaji International Airport. She is also an activist, who works to eradicate corruption.

Sharing her experience, she said while working on her Indian projects on several occasions she was asked to bribe government officials to clear penalties for sending raw materials from one place to another, but she refused to do so.

Komal Nathani

Former Correspondent, Entrepreneur Asia Pacific

A firm believer of hard work and patience. Love to cover stories that hold a potential to change the momentum of business world. Currently, a part of all-women web team of Entrepreneur’s Asia Pacific edition to jig the wheel of business journalism!

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