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Women entrepreneur

Women are starting more businesses, yet there are obstacles that force founders into the unorganized sector

The burgeoning presence of female entrepreneurs in India is quite encouraging, particularly in light of the nation’s remarkable 8.4% growth rate in the third quarter of 2023–2024. These women are creating inventive businesses that hold up the prospect of a better future for all, not just altering the laws of commerce. Beyond a few notable success stories, women-led businesses are having a huge impact on raising household incomes, accelerating the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG5 on gender equality, and significantly reducing poverty.

According to the World Bank, women-owned businesses in India are responsible for creating an estimated 8 million job opportunities, underscoring their critical contribution to the economy. Despite this, many of these ventures, as highlighted in a 2021 report from NITI Aayog, remain predominantly rural, small-scale, and informal. However, projections suggest that by 2030, women’s share of all enterprises in India is set to rise to 30%, signaling a promising trajectory of growth and empowerment.

Yet, amidst this progress, women entrepreneurs face a myriad of challenges that often push them into the informal sector. Gender biases and limited access to resources act as significant barriers, hindering their ability to secure crucial finance, technology, and market insights. The absence of comprehensive data on women-owned businesses underscores the need for targeted interventions to unlock their immense potential and foster a more inclusive MSME ecosystem.

While the Indian government offers numerous schemes to support entrepreneurship, the focus primarily revolves around access to finance and skilling, with other vital areas like market linkages and mentoring receiving comparatively less attention. Furthermore, only a small fraction of these schemes, around 7%, are tailored specifically for female entrepreneurs, indicating a notable gap in support.

In response to these challenges, women entrepreneurs are increasingly turning to e-commerce platforms as a means to overcome traditional hurdles. Unlike traditional brick-and-mortar ventures, e-commerce offers lower initial investment requirements and provides access to a vast customer base, both domestically and internationally. Programs like Amazon Saheli are pivotal in empowering Indian women entrepreneurs by offering training, marketing support, and financing options.

Several other innovative initiatives, such as the Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP) by NITI Aayog and HER&NOW by GIZ, are actively fostering women’s entrepreneurship in India by providing comprehensive support through mentorship, upskilling programs, and funding resources.

However, to ensure greater participation and equity for women entrepreneurs in the e-commerce landscape, targeted policy interventions are crucial. These interventions should focus on digital literacy, e-commerce training, and specific financial schemes tailored towards women-owned MSMEs operating in the e-commerce space.

By addressing existing barriers and fostering an inclusive ecosystem, these initiatives not only promote gender equality but also strategically drive India’s economic growth. Recognizing the transformative potential of e-commerce for women entrepreneurs is essential for realizing India’s full economic potential and fostering sustainable development.

Sadhna B

Sadhna B

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