There are few female entrepreneurs in the local area who have risen to the podium of female icons – Kiran Mazumdar Shaw from Biocon, Vandana Luthra from VLCC and Ritu Kumar. Women’s participation in the workforce has increased, and several women are wetting their feet in the startup ecosystem.
The formal participation of women in the workforce has increased from 12% in the 1970s to 25% today. The irony, however, is that a large part of women’s participation is in the informal sector that is not taken into account.
According to the 2014 economic census, approximately 14% of Indian women own or run businesses. More than 90% of women-run businesses are micro and around 79% are self-financed. Regardless of the long road to gender neutrality, the statistics have been very encouraging. And hopefully with this article we will inspire women who are sitting on the fence to take the plunge and leave their mark on the way to an inclusive and diverse world.
Secret Ingredients To A Woman’s Success?
There are no secrets to success – just some strategic decisions, hard work, and a dash of luck. In general, some factors that have worked for some women entrepreneurs:
- Never share the attitude: To bring about systemic change, resilience is key. It’s like climbing a hill against the wind. Constant, consistent and continuous efforts take us far
- Networking: Women generally find it difficult to break into closed groups and to build their own networks. However, as the number of women in companies / workers increases, there are several platforms that promote networking among women in order to develop personally and professionally
- Mentoring: Mentors play an important role in a career. Access to real mentors in a male-dominated environment is a limitation. Still, a number of organizations are now encouraging buddy systems and formally / informally relevant mentors who can really help smooth the journey
- Family Support: Family support and happiness are keys to every woman’s success. When the house is out of order, it is essentially difficult to start a business. The secret sauce to balancing work and family life is the ability to build a solid support system (childcare, education, domestic help) that does things in automatic mode and gives women the flexibility to choose their course
- Ecosystem Interventions: There are several state and national level interventions to support and support women entrepreneurs. NITI Aayog has initiated various women-oriented programs and has a platform for supporting women entrepreneurs. Several other organizations like the Ford Foundation, UNDP etc. focus on empowering women through their initiatives. Banks and VC funds are increasingly supporting women entrepreneurs and financing them on an equal footing in their entrepreneurial path
This non-exhaustive list of factors, while not promising to succeed, plays a key role in ensuring a level playing field for women in a formerly controlled patriarchal business world.
Women in action
A number of women entrepreneurs are mushrooming in different segments. In the fashion and consumer goods sectors where women have an advantage, we’ve seen a number of women build credible businesses and brands:
To highlight interesting companies
- Anita Dongre (AND, Global Desi): She redefined fashion through fusion clothing and created one of the most popular and successful women’s clothing brands in India
- Ghazal Alagh (Mamaearth): She has closed the gap between high quality, reliable and natural products for mother and child, which used to be a luxury for globetrotters
- Shilpa Sharma (Jaypore): Enabling artisans and artisans across India, Jaypore has become a popular new age digital arts and crafts brand
- Gazal Kalra (Rivigo): A place where women can stand out because of their absence. She made it big by creating a platform for assembling truckers to ensure efficient logistics
- Rashmi Daga (FreshMenu): She solved the drudgery of canteen food at work by starting an on-demand fine-dine company that operates through cloud kitchens in a few major cities in India
The above are just a few examples illustrating the different industries women find themselves in and the innovative ways in which solutions can be found on a large scale. The tip of the iceberg is only just emerging. The hidden potential of women is huge and an important factor in India’s growth at this crucial stage.
If India is to become “Atmanirbhar” in the 21st century, women will have an important role to play in developing more indigenous solutions – they make up almost 50% of the population. With the support of government interventions, family support, the right networks and funding partners, more and more women will build successful companies. Not because they are women – but because of their abilities and skills – because they are THE women.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the above article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of this publisher. Unless otherwise stated, the author writes in his personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be viewed as an official idea, setting, or policy of any agency or institution.