Leaders Talk

Incubators Must Encourage Women for Entrepreneurship

A winner of 2017 Asia Women Icon Award for entrepreneurship, Deepshikha has served an array of Fortune 500 clients.

By 2030, with 400 million women, India’s working-age population will cross the one billion mark. While the Centre is promoting the Startup India programme with utmost zeal, the representation of women entrepreneurs is not much impressive. In the Index of Women Entrepreneurs 2019, India’s rank was 52 among 57 surveyed countries.

It is quite evident that the country cannot achieve many developmental and economic goals unless women play pivotal roles in business activities. Gender equality, parity, and holistic development are impossible if women are financially dependent on men. So, for women empowerment in actuality, they must be motivated to pull their socks up in the business world. Although NITI Aayog and SIDBI have already launched WEP, a women entrepreneurship platform for aspiring, as well as, existing women entrepreneurs, any major change is yet to be witnessed. Hereby, parallel to government schemes and initiatives, startup incubators must also come forward to encourage women for entrepreneurship. 

Women require no extra wherewithal to beat their male counterparts in the business world. The market is indifferent to genders or muscles, but responsive to ideas. The challenge they often come across is their lack of accessibility to communities and institutions. Apart from lack of credit support from family and friends, novice women entrepreneurs also lag behind in getting institutional support. But, the biggest hurdle in the entrepreneurial journey of Indian women is the perception of investors and venture capitalists, still skeptical about the managerial and leadership capabilities of women. With their guidance, support, and mentorship, incubators not only change investors’ perception regarding women-led startups, but they also help increase their tractions. 

Although NITI Aayog and SIDBI have already launched WEP, a women entrepreneurship platform for aspiring, as well as, existing women entrepreneurs, any major change is yet to be witnessed

Startup incubators are the ideal platforms for small yet innovative businesses to get nurtured with their planning, financial, technical, operational, and promotional expertise. Today, many incubators in India such as WE HUB, CWE, and Womennovator are dedicatedly serving budding shepreneur through customised support system mechanism. In these incubators, women entrepreneurs help their startups grow in a comprehensive and protected ecosystem. There they find easy access to investors, technology, trade networks, marketing gurus, and above all to the target markets. Incubators also guide them about availing various government schemes and projects. And, their enormous experience helps women entrepreneurs in hiring and managing the talent.   

A combined or cumulative experience of successful business leaders at the incubation centres always helps enthusiastic but inexperienced women entrepreneurs in moulding their vision into sustainable ventures. Most of the incubators are well-equipped with R&D facilities and they have tie-ups with research institutes and engineering colleges. In a technologically-driven business landscape of today, the scientific and technical support of these institutes enables young businesses in developing innovative products and services. Subsequently, they acquire a competitive edge over other players in the industry. 

Startup incubators for women entrepreneurs can be a game changer in the long run, but their presence shouldn’t be restricted to metropolitan cities and business zones. For the larger and inclusive benefits, they must extend their outreach to rural India, too. Sectors like agriculture, food, textile, home furnishing, and even e-commerce can find a better growth trajectory once rural women start exploiting their entrepreneurial skills.