Times are changing. A few decades ago, most women were confined to their homes. Tending to the family was their main responsibility and everything else took a back seat – their dreams, their aspirations and everything else. With changing times, this outlook is changing. More and more women are looking to be independent. They want to make decisions about their life and their career themselves. They are ready to take up challenges and have an urge to do something new. This has resulted in a rising trend of women in entrepreneurship. Women currently constitute approximately 14% of the total entrepreneurship in India. This may seem to be a small number, but the upward trend over the last few years is very encouraging.
Obstacles Women Entrepreneurs Face
The origin of the word entrepreneur can be traced back to a French word which roughly translates to ‘adventurer’. Surely when a woman embarks on the journey to be an entrepreneur, it is nothing short of an adventure. In India, the problems faced by women entrepreneurs are quite different as compared to their male counterparts.
Entrepreneur – A unisex word, then why the gender inequality?
The greatest obstacle that women entrepreneurs face is that they are women. There is no easy acceptance in our patriarchal society for a woman trying to make way into entrepreneurship, which has been predominantly male-dominated for long. A woman spending time and effort in work other than her home is perceived as being careless towards her family. In fact many a times, her attempt to be independent is perceived as trying to demean her husband and prove her superiority. Her confidence is looked down upon as her “bossy” attitude. These positive traits shown by women are usually admired and encouraged with men, but are viewed with a negative outlook when it comes to woman entrepreneurs.
Being confident about yourself and exuding that confidence can help others, especially your family members believe in you and your dreams. Back that confidence with the right amount of thought and research. Be assertive. Let being a woman be your strength and not something people judge you about.
Money is important for any business. Starting any new business requires funds. Women have a disadvantage in this regard because they usually do not have extra funds that can be invested in a new idea. Though laws are in place, women do not usually get a share in ancestral property. They do not tend to have property or assets in their name. This reduces the option of women getting loans based on assets from banks. Several reports suggest that it is more difficult for women to secure funding externally as they are considered to be low risk-takers and have more chances of giving up on their project.
There are many organizations out there who look to fund women-founded businesses. The Government of India has also introduced several schemes to encourage women to open their own enterprises –
- Standup India facilitates bank loans between INR 10 lakh and 1 crore to at least one woman per bank branch in the country for setting up a greenfield enterprise in manufacturing, services or the trading sector
- Trade Related Entrepreneurship Assistance and Development (TREAD) scheme for women assists in the form of a grant of up to 30% of the total project cost for promoting entrepreneurship among target groups of women.
- Rashtriya Mahila Kosh gives out multiple loans under their schemes to encourage women to create wealth and assets.
Women should be aware of these schemes and should avail these benefits to kick-start their entrepreneurship dreams.
Work Life Balance
Women, especially married women with children shoulder a lot of responsibilities at home. Starting a new business comes with a lot of challenges and can be mentally and/or physically draining. It can also mean long working hours. In addition to this, when the woman has to manage home responsibilities – child-care, elderly care, her husband, her home – things can get very taxing for many women. Achieving the correct work life balance is indeed an art, and mastering the art becomes tougher when you have a lot on your plate.
Planning your commitments and time management is the key. When you are working for yourself, you have the advantage of time flexibility to a certain level. Planning your home and business activities ahead of time and sticking to the schedule can help to make things easier. Having a good support system at home and work is always an added advantage.
More hurdles to cross
There are many more difficulties faced by women entrepreneurs such as low safety standards for women travelling alone, fear of failure and the judgement that would follow, the fight to be accepted by male colleagues, the lack of support system and lack of guidance and mentoring.
Stay motivated and keep going
Over the last few years, we have seen several women entrepreneurs like Vandana Luthra (Founder, VLCC), Kiran Mazumdar Shaw (Founder, Biocon Limited), Falguni Nayar (Founder, Nykaa) and Shradha Sharma (Founder & CEO, YourStory) who are on the top in their respective fields. These strong women are an inspiration to all the women who dream to be successful entrepreneurs to stay focussed and always believe that whatever be the odds, anything is possible.