As per the latest government Census records, 48% of India’s population is female. Ideally, they should make up about half of our entrepreneurs. However, only 14% of the country’s entrepreneurs are women, as per an Economic Times report. There is huge untapped potential that needs to be actively encouraged if we are to achieve significant economic progress, especially in a year like 2020.
Do women indeed make better leaders?
Amitabh Kant, CEO of Niti Aayog, says, “High growth rates of 9-10% year-after-year are not possible for India till women don’t become key entrepreneurs”.
As per a Center of Entrepreneurship report published by Forbes, women make better business leaders due to 5 factors:
1. They are better at taking calculated risks.
2. They are less likely to be overconfident.
3. They are more ambitious.
4. They are better at foreseeing in the long run.
5. They are used to fighting it out more and have acquired resilience.
Here is a brief idea of what drives women towards entrepreneurship in India.
How can we help India’s businesswomen rise to the occasion in 2020?
With the Coronavirus scare still looming large, Moody’s has forecasted a 10.6% contraction for fiscal 2020. While the government tries to revive India financially, here are a few things that can be done to help the women of India in helping India.
2. Mentorship programs: In June 2019, the UNDP (United Nations Development Program)’s Disha project took a minivan around India’s villages that conducted entrepreneurship awareness programs for rural women. But this was just one small scale effort. Women need mentorship more than men do since they mostly don’t have that wide an entrepreneurial network or equal opportunities for funding.
What we need is a network of veteran female leaders such as Indra Nooyi, Vandana Luthra, Ritu Kumar, and the like. These women will inspire the next generation, and provide them with valuable insights.
3. Empowering women techies: Girls are 25% less likely than boys to know how to elevate their lifestyles by learning technology. Girls are encouraged lesser towards tech right from their childhood. In the age of Digital India and a digital world steering towards AI and whatnot, women should not be suffering from a skill gap. We need programs that make women tech-savvy and normalize for the society that women are as tech-ready as men.
4. Organizing the unorganized sector: 94% of women in India are employed in the unorganized sector. A lot of them lack adequate wages, dignity, and safety at work. On the other hand, there are scores of women involved in small businesses such as preparing and selling food items, tailoring, etc. out of their homes. Until these women are freed of their struggles for basic needs and made to realize their entrepreneurial potential, they won’t be able to identify themselves as businesswomen.
5. Higher educational initiatives: 2020 saw a considerable rise in the number of female students at the IIMs, with women making 33.5% of the class of ‘21 at the top 6 IIMs as compared to 25% last year. At the same time, enrollment of women in higher education, in general, has been increasing in the past decade.
6. Public-private partnership for initiatives: The government cannot promote women’s entrepreneurship and revive the economy all alone. This kind of large-scale reform — or revolution, if you will — needs the contribution of all sections of society. All the above-mentioned ways of encouraging female entrepreneurship need a public-private partnership for optimum results.
Secondly, the private sector needs to work on grave issues like the pay gap, blatant everyday sexism, lack of role models to follow, sexual harassment, and much more. In the absence of these issues, men have much better scope to focus on their entrepreneurial pursuits than women do.
These are just six broad areas of improvement for us to become a nation better suited for women entrepreneurs. We still seem to have a long way to go, but the way doesn’t have to be long, and women don’t have to continue giving in to the role of second fiddle.