Experts Column

Ease Of Doing Business By Women Entrepreneurs

With 10 plus years of experience in Operations and Technology in India and USA, after graduation in Engineering from RV College and Master of Business Administration from University of Illinois, Charu is now leading the firm.

More and more people are pursuing careers as entrepreneurs due to several opportunities emerging owing to globalization and digitization of every sector.  And given that the overall responsibilities of women are transforming with financial independence as they step into the outside world, many are moving from being employees to owning and running their own businesses. Over the past few years, India has registered a record growth in women entrepreneurs. 20per cent of all formal enterprises are owned by women as per Bain & Company and Google’s report: “Women Entrepreneurship in India – Powering the economy with her”.

Women’s participation in the formal workforce is a key driver of growth and essential for inclusive growth of the country. However, despite this well-known fact that has been highlighted by many experts over the years, their engagement has been less than ideal in India and in fact falling over the years! According to a report by The World Economic Forum, women in India are disproportionately represented in the economic market with only 23 percent participation, even less than countries like Saudi Arabia. Indian business ventures are generally male-dominated and there is an urgent need to correct this gender imbalance by driving awareness, knowledge sharing, a sense of decision-making and entrepreneurship among women.

“Women entrepreneurs are also more creative, open-minded, and given their vastly different experiences from men, lend a fresh perspective on things”

For women entrepreneurs, the range of challenges vary from personal to financial to market conditions. In India, women entrepreneurship is a matter of concern for the country to inch towards equality and opportunity. The Indian government has taken steps to promote women entrepreneurship covering rural, semi and urban geographies. The emergence of women-led startups creating successful revenue streams and employment opportunities across the country has encouraged the government to focus on accelerating their growth through budget allocations and improving general accessibility to financing. In terms of existing labour and firm laws, the government can work towards making changes to promote positive outcomes in startup segments, especially for women. Besides amending laws, adequate training, institutional and financial support as a composite package needs to be encouraged.

Women across the world have been adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic with a whopping 87 percent of them saying they have been unfavorably influenced, a report by MasterCard said. What is more, given the lower number of women who default on loans, there is a requirement for a more impartial credit program offered to women and sufficient allocation of loans for women entrepreneurs alongside a longer credit period.

Though the situation has improved still there is space for positive change, which is yet to happen due to societal barriers, market-oriented risks, knowledge in business administration, identification of available resources and funding etc. and more basic issues plaguing the girl child. Employment not only gives economic and social status but also empowers women on an individual level. In countries where there is higher participation, where the support for SMEs and ease of doing business are high, women are seen making better business inroads and have successful careers at top management positions. The Indian government and startup ecosystem must work towards cultivating similar conditions here.

Overall, women are better communicators and managers. Women entrepreneurs are also more creative, open-minded, and given their vastly different experiences from men, lend a fresh perspective on things. This is where the innovation stems from. Indian startup ecosystem is being recognized for its growing number of successful women CXOs and VCs. “With the mandate to have one female representative on the board for public companies, India is one such emerging market to embrace gender quotas. The 2013 Companies Act made it compulsory for all publicly listed firms to have at least one woman director”. Such initiatives present an opportunity for women to take on important roles. During the COVID crisis, there have been several examples of women leaders leading their countries from the front to combat the pandemic, most notably Jacinda Arden, PM of New Zealand. All of this and more point at the need for a more conducive environment for women to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams and open their own businesses- big or small.

Indian women entrepreneurs are poised to generate 150–170 million jobs. This is over 25 per cent of the jobs required to employ the working-age population in 2030, said the report by Bain & Company and Google. With this in mind, the clamor for more women entrepreneurs and employers in growing. And with 7.4 percent CEO positions at Fortune 500 companies being held by women, there is enthusiasm about the future for women in the workforce as leaders over the coming decades and changing mindsets will be instrumental in changing the status quo.