A support for women entrepreneurs

In spite of an encouraging upturn in women running business in the past decade or so, there is no doubt that much more needs to be done to overcome the specific factors which discourage women entrepreneurs from starting or taking over firms. However, things are about to change, hopefully,

Women bake cakes. Women design homes. Women run luxury stores. Women run manufacturing units. If the increasing number of women entrepreneurs is anything to go by, women are breaking the proverbial glass ceiling in the business sector. Women are successful at business because they know how to stretch a rupee; they start simple, by keeping costs down.

Women entrepreneurs today employ more people than the. Fortune 500 combined. In spite of this, in India we will still have to create an environment that encourages women to start and grow their firms.

In a Global economics paper (Women Hold Up half the Sky). Goldman Sachs analysts discuss the important role of women’s education in boosting economic growth. The arguments are persuasive; the analysts believe that in the BRICs and N-II countries greater investments in female education could yield a growth premium. The report concluded that greater participation by women in the Indian labor force could increase real GDP growth rates by 1.0 percent and income per capita could increase by up to 13 percent. India’s female labor force participation is 36 percent compared to the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) average of 60 percent. Literacy rate for adult females is 48 per cent versus an average of 80 per cent for the BRICs.

There is a huge opportunity today, but you need to reinvent at a rapid pace. All this mean that entrepreneurs have to hit the ground, in terms of business expertise and finance. Technology has also changed dramatically, so entrepreneurs need to acquaint themselves with techniques to leverage technology to their advantage, in an endeavor to save cost and increase efficiency.

A direct result of research in this area was 10,000 women, a global initiative by Goldman Sachs to educate women entrepreneurs. In India, with support from Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Women initiative, ISB has created a business and management training program for underserved women entrepreneurs that incorporate education, mentoring and business planning. Over five years, ISB will train a total of 540 women entrepreneurs in India… The 150 hour Certificate program in entrepreneurship include topics such as business planning, marketing finance accounting and HRM. Between classroom sessions, scholars receive assistance in applying what they learn is real life issues their businesses face. Women receive mentoring from local expert mentors and develop business plans under guidance from the ISB faculty. Business and management education for women, though important is one of neglected means that can spur global economic growth, create individual opportunity and improve the security of families and communities.

Promoting opportunities, to encourage women to give grater consideration to running business and to make it easier for them to do so, can take many forms.

One such initiative by the Indus Entrepreneurs is the TSS. The objective of TSS is to create a platform of belonging for women entrepreneurs enabling and recognizing women entrepreneurs who have broken the glass ceiling and overcome societal pressures and gender warfare to realize their dream of running their own enterprise.

At the heart of this initiative is the fact that even though women today face fewer barriers inequities still exists. This was brought out in a study commissioned by TiE, the GEM study, according to which, 90 per cent of women at the grass root level need help in training and education to improve their business skills. 78 per cent of them were keen to re-start their businesses again, but need encouragement and support from family and other like minded women. To plug this gap, TSS was conceptualized to reach out to these women who run micro, medium and large scale enterprise across manufacturing, services and social sectors. The ideal of this heterogeneous group of women is to give women entrepreneurs a platform to connect with like minded people, on key topics of entrepreneurial aspirations, journey and output, one example being work life balance.

Every day, a woman leaves corporate India to start her own business. This can be the result of another major issue for women entrepreneurs – the formidable task of work life balance. From the TiE initiative what has come out, and that organizations led by women take a lot longer to scale up. Most are happy with where we are, sometimes due to personal obligations and sometimes due to lack of ambition. Initiatives like TiE help people to understand that women need to think more strategically about their business, rather than let it take its natural course. The ISB program also exposes women to the fact that there is a structured way of doing things, for example networking. Women don’t network so much; there is a negative connotation to it.

Initiatives by independent organizations and studies have shown that if investments are made towards nurturing and grooming women entrepreneurs by giving them the capacity to be actors in the economic world, they can progress in ways that enhance, grow and build economies.