Women-owned businesses are not in the majority, and female entrepreneurs have to defy social expectations before they are deemed successful. Women require a lot of perseverance and hard work to scale up businesses when compared to their male counterparts. There is no idea of what women's leadership looks like, which is why females have to be their own role models and pillar of support.
The pitching process for women-owned startups is especially difficult since investors don't have confidence in them. The good news is that the times are changing, and there are many female investors willing to invest in female-owned startups. Most investors look for business forms that can reach a valuation of at least ₹100 crores when founding a team.
Did you know? More than 40% of businesses in the United States are owned by women, and it is believed that female entrepreneurs may be key to improving our economy in India and worldwide.
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Problems Faced by Women Entrepreneurs
Following is a list of the key problems faced by women entrepreneurs in India.
1. Lack of Social and Financial Support
Women entrepreneurs do not have funding from large corporations. Firstly, many female entrepreneurs don't have any properties in their name, and their access to external funding sources is limited. The second issue is that commercial and private sector banks don't consider businesswomen to have a high sense of creditworthiness. It sounds unfair as the funding scene in India has extreme levels of gender biases. Women-led businesses lack access to capital because of the stereotype of investors.
2. Shortage of Raw Materials
Most enterprises run by women entrepreneurs have difficulty procuring raw materials from suppliers. Sellers give first preference to firms that are operated by male entrepreneurs and do not prioritize female buyers on their lists. A good example of material scarcity faced is the case of female-owned corporations that operated in 1971. Businesswomen who were getting into basket making failed to turn their ventures successful due to a shortage of raw materials back then.
3. Lack of Mobility
Women are looked down upon in society when they try to run a business. As such, renting a room or property or buying land gets looked at as suspicious. It's even more challenging for single women who have their own businesses. Limited mobility also refers to the act of owning motorized vehicles and many financially independent women cannot travel alone as there are issues with safely traveling solo. This is one of the many problems faced by women entrepreneurs in the country who try to meet up with prospective clients.
4. Lack of Education
Running a successful business as a women entrepreneur in India means getting a solid education in business management, administration, and finance. Customers expect female entrepreneurs to have the necessary experience and at least 6 years of education in a professional field. Unfortunately, the high costs of education in India have become a huge barrier to their success. Not every woman can afford to pay for expensive college degrees or invest the time required to acquire them.It is a matter of circumstance to balance both college or start-up. However, this is changing, and there are many women who are availing of distance education modules to finish their degrees remotely.
5. Balancing Family and Work Life
Women are known to be the caregivers of households and mom to kids. When a woman runs a business, their schedules and priorities take a shift. It's not possible to be at home all the time when running a business, and mothers have to take a break from their families to focus on business operations. Due to not meeting family commitments, there may be a clash in households which makes many female entrepreneurs feel guilty. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart, but for women it's a lot harder due to this reason.
6. High Competition
The modern economy has made it difficult to start new ideas from scratch and scale up. There is always someone with the latest innovations out there and women entrepreneurs have to prove themselves in order to stand out. Colleagues and investors aren't willing to commit either due to the hardships and long roads that await them. Women have to use limited resources to operate their business and grow it. Until they build a solid reputation in the industry and generate enough profits, there is no credibility in their words.
7. No backup plans
Some women entrepreneurs who invest everything into their business can lose big time. Due to the lack of education, social status, work experience, and male support, women entrepreneurs are seen as having no exposure or industry support. They are not taken by peers seriously, and those who invest their all into the business, they cannot afford to fail or have a backup plan.
Digital literacy is important in this era, and women entrepreneurs who do not develop an online presence cannot gain new clients. Most women entrepreneurs lack education in STEM disciplines such as Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. They don't have access to the tools and techniques needed to empower them and run a good business.
8. No role models
The percentage of male entrepreneurs in India is far greater than that of females. The Constitution of India promotes equality of both genders when it comes to roles and earning capabilities in the workforce. However, male partners look down upon women and do not take them seriously, and this turns into a barrier to entry into the business landscape for those who are new.
Women are not encouraged to take risks, try out new ideas, or run general businesses by society. And since there aren't many female entrepreneurs compared to male-dominated ones, there are not many role models to look up to or ask for advice.
9. Low-Risk Appetite
Women business owners are not as financially independent as male businessmen and are prone to many risks when running an enterprise. As such, they cannot take a high degree of risk when running their business. Socioeconomic constants force them to hold back from executing various ideas and making them a reality. The low-risk appetite is due to the rising costs of product development and production, marketing, lack of credibility and strong backing in the business, etc.
10. Taking Charge of Your Own Accomplishments
Discussing women's accomplishments and contributions to growing the company can be considered conscientious or selfish by women themselves. Communal and consensus-building attributes are encouraged among women, which means that if the company grows, it's due to the team's efforts as a whole and not theirs. Women CEOs are afraid to speak up for themselves in public meetings and do not value themselves enough. Using the first person to discuss personal successes may be perceived as bragging by others.
Confidence is key to success, but when there is a boardroom filled with men, and you're the only female entrepreneur, it can feel overwhelming to stand your ground. There are many questions women are unprepared to answer as well when it comes to their business.
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Top Women Entrepreneurs in India
We see problems faced by women entrepreneurs in India and how they overcome them in the public discussion these days. Running a business as a woman may be seen as disadvantageous in the eyes of the public, but that is no excuse for not becoming successful.
Here's a list of the top women entrepreneurs in India as of 2022:
1. Ashwani Asokana
Ashwani Asokana has more than a decade of experience working in Silicon Valley as an entrepreneur. She is the founder of Mad Street Den and has extensive experience leading mobile innovations. Having overcome many of the problems faced by women entrepreneurs, her success is accredited due to her knowledge of Artificial Intelligence, Program Management, Visual Arts, and a host of other skill sets. Her business has been featured in the top 40 Fortune 40s list in India and mentioned in several other publications such as Nikkei, TechCrunch, Vogue, etc.
2. Divya Gokulnath
Divya Gokulnath is the co-founder of BYJU's, a leading online education platform in India. Her journey toward becoming a women's entrepreneur started out when she enrolled in BYJU's classes as a student. Divya completed her engineering education at RV college and was preparing for the GRE exams to study abroad. However, she became a teacher at BYJU's after transitioning from Today, BYJU's has an app on the Google Play Store, which has a user base of more than 42 million students across the country.
The company has been sponsored by several investors like Sofina, Aarin Capital, CPPIB, Qatar Investment Authority, etc.
Sugandha is one of the youngest female entrepreneurs in India. She is the founder of Docttocare, which is a leading online portal for booking clinical appointments by patients from non-metro cities. Her app also provides financial aid to patients who cannot afford surgical treatments, which is a bonus.
4. Hemalatha Annamalai
Hemalatha Annamalai runs a successful GR consulting firm, Uni Connect in Singapore. She moved back to India with her husband and kids to start Ampere Electric during 2008. She came across the conHer vision and received support from none other than Ratan Tata himself. Along with this Infosys co-founder, Kris Gopalakrishnan became another one of the major early investors in the company. Presently, the company has sold more than 20,000 vehicles with the capacity to manufacture 30,000 vehicles annually.
5. Falguni Nayar
Falguni Nayar had launched Nykaa at the age of 49 after illustrious corporate career which is spanning over two decades. Growing in a business environment was encouraged through her father, Falguni Nayar has learned the ins and outs of business and networking since an early age.
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Now that you know the problems of female entrepreneurs in India, you know what it takes to run a business. The road to becoming successful is not easy, but the journey is well worth it.
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