Indian Startup Ecosystem Biased Against Women

Indian Startup Ecosystem Biased Against Women

Indian Startup Ecosystem Biased Against Women

Women Entrepreneurs in India

India is a country infamous for low levels of participation by women in the workforce. According to a 2013 report, only 32 percent of Indian women have a job outside home. The startup environment is not conducive to women either. According to a recent report by YourStory, of the 670 startups funded hitherto this year, only 3 percent were launched by women. Compare this with the 83 percent enterprises started by men and the 14 percent startups which have male and female cofounders working together, and the gender gap that emerges is a rather huge one. Even in cases where women entrepreneurs have risked launching a venture, it emerges that the leadership skills, achievements and capabilities of women who have started businesses have been sidelined and denied the spotlight.

Technology And Finance

Women entrepreneurs naturally gravitate towards certain sectors such as food technology and fashion, experts believe. A closer look, however, reveals that women who launch startups are largely outnumbered even in these sectors. In the online fashion sector, for example, over 70 percent of the recent ventures were launched by men, whereas only 30 percent by women.

Technology and finance are two major areas where the gender gap is the highest, that is, there are very few women entrepreneurs in these two sectors. Ironically, the paucity of women leading businesses in these sectors inhibits the investors from placing their trust in anyone who does risk a venture. While more and more women in India are opting for IT-based education and jobs, they are yet unwilling to start out on their own. And despite the fact that some of India’s leading banks are headed by women, very few have risked starting a financial institution of their own.

Indian Women And Inhibitions

Indian women have traditionally lent a helping hand in earning the dough. Their endeavours have, however, largely remained small scale and even ignored. From making and selling household items such as papads and pickles to stitching, tailoring and embroidering, to direct selling (for companies such as Amway and Tupperware), to home tutoring and even catering small scale events, women of the industry have always found a way. In recent times, with technology, education, and greater funding and marketing channels, these women are more willing to take up entrepreneurship and set up their own ventures.

The obstacles in such an endeavour are, however, manifold. Ignorance is one. Lack of knowledge about funding sources and various schemes available to aid their business is a major hindrance. Lack of supportive family is, perhaps, the greatest of all. And most importantly, societal attitude that allows a client to choose a man-led startup over one launched by a woman, is a pitfall. A growing need for awareness, encouraging attitude, and a grassroots change in the value system are necessary to remove this inherent bias against women entrepreneurs.

Taking Advantage of Government Schemes

While the support of family and friends is the foundation on which a woman can build her startup, ignorance of funding schemes and financial support is a major setback inhibiting Indian women from venturing out on their own. In April 2016, the Government of India launched a scheme called Stand Up India. The main goal of the scheme is to promote entrepreneurship among the SC/ST and women of the country by extending loans ranging between INR 10 lakh and INR 1 crore for setting up their own enterprise. The women who avail of this scheme can also avail a number of support services for their businesses and be covered under the government’s social welfare schemes. Apart from this, nationalized banks have been encouraged to launch a number of loan schemes to benefit the women entrepreneurs. These include the Annapurna Scheme, Dena Shakti Scheme, Udyogini Scheme, Stree Shakti Scheme, and Mahila Udyam Nigam Scheme.

Bharatiya Mahila Bank

To promote financial support for prospective women entrepreneurs in the country and to provide them access to formal banking institutions, the Bharatiya Mahila Bank Limited (BMBL) was set up in 2013. The prime objective of the bank was to wean Indian women away from non-banking financiers and lenders such as pawn brokers and private institutions, which have traditionally been holding the savings of women and lending to them. This made the women susceptible to frauds and/or high interest rates. A specialized bank focusing on the financial and funding needs of the women came as a great support to budding entrepreneurs. India became the third country in the world to come up with a bank focused on women, and the BMBL is now 100 branches strong. Earlier this month, the SBI board approved the acquisition of Bharatiya Mahila Bank. This means that the BMBL will soon be part of the country’s largest public sector bank and women entrepreneurs will have access to its financial services.

6 Inspiring Women Entrepreneurs From India

If you are an Indian woman considering to launch your startup, here are some successful women entrepreneurs who can inspire you to go the extra mile.

  • Sairee Chahal, Sheroes

Sairee Chahal is the CEO and Founder of Sheroes and is committed to making a difference in the world of career placements for women.

  • Falguni Nayar

After 27 years as a banker, Falguni Nayar decided to start her own venture and set up the beauty and wellness e-store, Nykaa.

  • Richa Kar, Zivame

In a country where lingerie buying is often stressful for the women, Richa Kar decided to go ahead and launch an e-commerce site for women wanting to shop for lingerie in the comfort of their homes.

  • Suchi Mukherjee, LimeRoad

Soon after equipping herself with a post graduate degree from the London School of Economics and completing five years in corporate life, Suchi Mukherjee decided to set up her own fashion retail portal, Limeroad.

  • Anisha Singh, MyDala

After finishing her studies and starting her career in the United States, Anisha Singh came back to India and set up MyDala.

  • Sabina Chopra, Yatra

When Sabina Chopra decided to put in her vast online travel management experience into her own venture, it took the shape of Yatra.