'The Importance of Women Entrepreneurship in Contributing to the Boost of Indian Economy'

By: Sushruthi Krishna, Founder, Saaki

Women have always held an important role in the Indian subcontinent and have played significant roles in our history. And it is ever more promising to know that women will continue to wield their power and importance in the new growth story of India.

The last few years have proved to be great for women in every sector. The country has experienced tremendous business and economic growth with the increasing participation of women in leadership roles. They have been able to create jobs in the nation, influencing demographic changes, and motivating the subsequent generation of female founders. The statistics indicate that today about 13.76% of the companies in the country are led by women entrepreneurs, and few among them  have been able to ride their success stories all the way to the elite Unicorn clubs too.

While the ratio is disproportionate, there is a long way for women to represent their contribution in huge numbers. However, it is heartening to see that these numbers are increasing year after year. It is said that in the next 5 years, there will be an increase in women entrepreneurship more than twice in India, and more than 30% of the companies will have women founders.

This phenomenon of women’s increasing entry into business is a direct result of various factors, like a boost in awareness of the necessity of women in the economy, an increase in access to mentorship, the growth of women's education, support from the investor community,  and the expansion of affordable technology and tools that make it easier for women to start and run their own businesses.

With the advancement of digital technologies, women are now able to work from any location and at any time, with little or no capital required. Homemakers can now easily run small, successful businesses. The social media space has been an integral part of this evolution, allowing women entrepreneurs to easily reach and acquire new customers on a daily basis at the lowest possible cost.

In addition, we have seen a positive shift in society. From Generation X on, we are seeing an increase in the number of women pursuing higher education. In addition, the social taboo of women staying at home has changed significantly over the last 20–30 years, with partners and stronger family support systems being established at home. Over the last decade, these factors have enabled a greater number of women to enter the world of entrepreneurship in both the technical and non-technical sectors.

Besides the social factors, we have also seen the investor community catalyzing the women’s representation in the Indian entrepreneurial ecosystem in the last few years.

For a long time, the entrepreneurial world has been largely dominated by men. A study conducted by Boston Consulting Group  (BCG) and Mass Challenge in 2018 indicated that women receive less funding in funding rounds, however, it is promising to note that women entrepreneurs generate more revenue per dollar invested which is gaining attention of the investor community. Over the last few years, women have significantly made their mark in an Indian male-dominated entrepreneurial sector. While there have been many female entrepreneurs who sought help in getting an investment from friends and family, numerous women-led startup companies in India were funded with additional capital to get the business off the ground. Thanks to changing times, angel investors are playing a massive role in the growth of startups and small-scale businesses led by women. Angel investors are most preferred by women entrepreneurs as they typically provide help beyond the investment, such as mentoring, networking, experience, contacts, additional funding resources, strategy, and more. These extra benefits can be very resourceful for women entrepreneurs.

Besides, it is encouraging to know that  banks and non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) offer various business loans schemes that offer benefits such as discounts, flexible repayment options, lower EMIs, etc., for women entrepreneurs.

The enterprising spirit and vision of the women entrepreneurs have also inspired the interest of some VC companies. Indeed, the number of women-led venture capital funds has increased significantly in the last five years, which has benefited the entire ecosystem.

As women entrepreneurs have begun to emerge, they are gradually taking on leadership positions and establishing their might in the business environment. As per a report by the World Bank, the increasing number of women in the workforce would boost India's growth rate from 7.5% to 9%, raising the country's GDP to $700 billion by 2025. And hence, it has become imperative to create an ecosystem to support women entrepreneurship to catapult this growth trajectory.

It is encouraging to see that even the government is showing interest in promoting the sustainable development of women entrepreneurs for the country's balanced growth. A little support and backing from the community can help women break the chains of traditional gender roles and make a mark for themselves in society.

The  better India- Women are the leaders

Today, 23% of Indian leadership consists of women. The overall GDP contribution by women today remains at 18%. Although this is a massive progress, it is important to continue to build for equal representation of genders both in the workplace and in leadership. Women are dominating the new-age industries (like the D2C industry) as they are renowned for their leadership and customer handling skills.

Regardless of their aptitude, capabilities, skills, training, and support, women face inevitable obstacles on their path to success, from finding investors to partners, networking opportunities to mentorship, dealing with gender biases, and juggling family responsibilities. Therefore, education and gender-neutral support systems are required to increase women's contribution to entrepreneurship. Some other ways we can support women's entrepreneurship, especially in rural India, are by providing women entrepreneurs with access to skill based entrepreneurial education and training that can help them develop the skills and knowledge they need. This might include business and financial management training, along with guidance in specific industries or sectors. Another way is by connecting women entrepreneurs to various networks and mentors who can provide them with guidance, advice, and support. Highlighting the successes of women entrepreneurs can help to inspire and motivate other women to pursue entrepreneurship and can also help to break down stereotypes and barriers. This can be done through events, media coverage, and other forms of recognition.

In a male dominated entrepreneurial space, names like Falguni Nayar, Vineeta Singh, Priyanka Gill, Upasana Taku, Ruchi Kalra, and Ruchi Deepak have been sources of inspiration. So it can be inferred that with the right support and resources, women have the potential to contribute significantly to the economy and advance their own growth through the means of entrepreneurship.

India undoubtedly has an edge in the global markets with a significant rise in women entrepreneurship, and it is estimated that they will create 150–170 million jobs by 2030. And we are certainly fortunate to witness this golden era during our lifetimes! More power to women and their resilience!