By Akshay Soni and Madhu Singh Sirohi
2020 brings unprecedented challenges. Although the epidemic has affected people from all walks of life, it has become more severe on women. Women find it difficult to take care of both responsibilities, work and home. A brief UNDP report on the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on female migrant workers states that female migrant workers faced a double burden of earning a living and doing unpaid care at home during the epidemic. They had to face low incomes as it was reduced by more than half during the epidemic.
To achieve the overall development of women in India, we need to improve socio-cultural progress and independence, which can find an impetus through entrepreneurship. Female founders are critical, but their funding is low. When a female founder goes to investors, they feel differently from men. A survey by Boston Consulting Group found that although women-based businesses deliver twice the five-year (10% higher revenue growth) ROI in five years than men-established businesses, women found less than 2.5% of VC investments worldwide by 2020. A study by professors at Harvard Business School, Columbia University, London Business School and Stockholm School of Economics explores the cause, and reveals the difference between how male and female entrepreneurs are questioned – men being asked for more ‘promotion’ (upwards). . Potential benefit) based questions and women are asked more ‘prevention’ (potential loss and risk mitigation) questions.
Fortunately, India has witnessed a significant change in the field of women entrepreneurs in the last two decades. At the beginning of the 21st century, the government launched various development projects, such as the Entrepreneur Development Program and the Prime Minister’s Employment Scheme, which helped more than 1.50 lakh businesswomen. India is seeing a growing number of women entrepreneurs significantly affecting the social and economic population.
With the continuous development of start-up ecosystems in India, women now have access to resources that help them build their own development and create economic resilience. According to the Sixth Economic Census by the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO), only 14% of businesses in India are run by women entrepreneurs. However, this number is slowly increasing. Banks, central and state governments, non-profits, and many other institutions / agencies are tackling inequality through various initiatives. The Mudra Yojana scheme, initiated by the Government of India, provides business loans to women so that they can become financially independent and self-reliant. Another such project is the Prime Minister’s Employment Scheme; The project aims to create skills-based, self-employment for women.
The government is working towards building a strong ecosystem for skill development institutes, educational institutions, corporate stakeholders, non-profit organizations and many such women entrepreneurs. One such initiative is Progress, Meter is a CSR initiative supported by The / Nudge Center for Social Innovation. The initiative aims to incubate and accelerate early-stage women-led nonprofits working in the field of women entrepreneurs and to raise awareness and technology among women in India.
To understand the importance and potential of women entrepreneurs, many companies (mainly technical and financial) are partnering with various organizations to help women entrepreneurs grow, including running nano-enterprises in remote rural India. By collaborating with a network of stakeholders to guide founders and connect them to grow their businesses, these companies offer opportunities that allow women to measure their ideas by creating an equal playing field by overcoming many obstacles otherwise encountered.
Today, there are more than 15.7 million women-owned enterprises in India and they are leading the start-up ecosystem. Collaboration of various stakeholders is essential to create an ecosystem that allows women entrepreneurs to develop. There are many opportunities for public-private partnerships to enable this joint effort, and this could be the path to a strong support system that enables the founders not only to survive, but to greatly improve.
(Akshay is the Managing Director of Sony The / Nudge Accelerator and Madhu Singh Sirohi is the Head of Policy Programs and Outreach, India.).)