Do women entrepreneurs skip the startup narrative in India?

India ranked 52 out of the 57 countries surveyed in the Women Entrepreneurs ‘ Index 2019

The ORF researches suggested that Indian women entrepreneurs need better access to finance and networks

The ambitious Startup India initiative by the Centre, Stand-up India, has failed to attract women entrepreneurs. According to the Economic Survey 2019-20, just 43 percent of the 27,084 recognized startups in India had a woman director as of January 8.

Women’s participation remained low even in those states that were top performers in terms of state-wise distribution of recognized startups — Delhi, Maharashtra, and Karnataka, according to the survey.

India also ranked 52 out of the 57 countries surveyed in the Women Entrepreneurs Index 2019.

What’s worse, the number of funded startups with at least one female co-founder decreased from 17 per cent in 2018 to 12 per cent in 2019, according to Innoven Capital, a venture debt and lending site. “Apart from the lack of credit insurance, women have no risk covering possibility financially. For first time visitors, there is a lack of formal support system and they give up even on the smallest challenge. Overall, one needs to get help from families in a stressful climate, “said Ranjana Kumari, director, Social Research Centre.

According to industry-wise distribution of known startups, IT services accounted for 13.9 percent followed by health and life sciences (8.3 percent) and education (7.0 percent), the economic survey shows. “Women make up 70% of the global health workforce and are the primary carers for elderly people and children. Given their strong predominance in healthcare, investor interest in women’s health startups remains limited,” said Savitha Kuttan, CEO, health-tech startup Omnicuris. “Whilst Startup India has helped budding entrepreneurs engage with industry leaders, formulate and execute business plans, we need to focus on promoting women entrepreneurs in the science and healthcare sector.”

The government said that while startups are driving economic growth, creating jobs, and cultivating an innovation culture, it does not seem to help women enterprises.

“Women are lacking in the initiative of Startup India, because many women who start their initiatives are not in the limelight or are professionally mentored.

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Additionally, when it comes to funding, women are not only scrutinized about how they ‘d manage their businesses, but also their families in parallel, which isn’t a filter men are put through, “said Riya Saxena, innovative finance associate, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).“ Thus women need to break through to filters to raise capital and grow their businesses.

A recent research paper published by Observer Research Foundation (ORF), a think tank on public policy, concluded that low rates of female entrepreneurship are part of a wider gender gap in economic participation and opportunity.

The paper titled “India’s Women Entrepreneurs: What’s holding them back?” We observed that policies aimed at including more women in senior positions and leadership positions are needed to help them gain experience and knowledge, thereby enabling them to start their own businesses.

“In particular, women in rural areas are a potential gold mine when it comes to entrepreneurship and need to be supported through skills and handholding,” said Neha Rastogi, founder and CEO of the healthtech company, Agatsa.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched on 15 August 2015 the initiative Startup India, Stand-up India, to encourage entrepreneurship among the youth. The initiative aimed to build an environment that is conducive to startup growth.

ORF reseachers also recommended that Indian women entrepreneurs need better access to finance and networking. Organizations such as NITI Aayog’s Women Entrepreneurship Network, Catalyst for Women Entrepreneurship, and Zone Startups India’s Women in Tech Accelerator provide women entrepreneurs with dedicated support, he added.

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One thought on “Do women entrepreneurs skip the startup narrative in India?

  1. Usually, I never comment on blogs but your article is so convincing that I never stop myself to say something about it. You’re doing great job guys, Keep it up.

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