The landscape for India’s female entrepreneurs, in charts

On November 19, the world celebrated the 10th Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, an annual effort to highlight the issues facing women business leaders. In the last official economic census a decade ago, only 14% of all establishments in India were headed by women. It is estimated that the share has since improved to over 20%, but the likes of Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Vandana Luthra and Falguni Nayar are rare examples in a scene flooded with male leads. On the right, a report released last month showed that women-led businesses tend to have more women-friendly policies and fewer barriers in the workplace. Can India make the business world more welcoming to its women? Here are the details.

Beyond the stars

Running a business is risky but more women are making a mark in the country at various levels: one such example is the recent success of Nykaa, India’s first female-led unicorn. However, there are many women-led entrepreneurial activities in rural India as well. Of all establishments led by women, 65% were located in rural areas. Southern states have a greater share of female entrepreneurs. Almost 80% of women entrepreneurs are self-financed in the country, it was discovered in the last economic census.

A changing dynamic

The situation is improving, however, and a significant change is expected by the end of the decade. By 2030, the share of female entrepreneurs could reach up to 33%, according to a 2019 report from Bain & Company and Google. There has already been a dramatic increase in women-led startups, and startups have generally proven to be more female-friendly at the highest levels than traditional businesses.

Women raise women

In a recent survey of startup leaders, male and female founders were equally likely to view a demanding work environment as a barrier in the workplace for women. However, opinions differed regarding mobility, attrition and care work, with female founders being more sensitive to such issues. Women-led startups are introducing more policies to address these issues.

Financial affairs

For these reasons, women-led businesses will be key to raising India’s female workforce participation. Bain & Company reports that women-owned enterprises have the potential to create over 50-60 million direct jobs by 2030. But India still has a long way to go to make the entrepreneurial environment more women-friendly. The country was ranked 57th among 65 countries in the Mastercard index on women entrepreneurs in 2021. Closing the funding bias against female founders will be crucial in the coming years.

$21.9 billion: Estimated funding received by women-led startups in India in 2022, just 18% of the total. However, this is up from 11% in 2017.

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