Women are generally perceived as homemakers with little to do with economy or business. But the scenario is changing. In modern India, more and more women are taking up entrepreneurial activity especially in medium and small scale enterprises.
A recent Global Entrepreneurialism Report conducted by international Bank BNP Paribas has ranked India on top of the highest percentage of women entrepreneurs.
Conducted among 2500 entrepreneurs in 17 markets spanning the US, Europe, Middle East, and Asia, the survey found that 49% of the entrepreneurs in India are women. India performed better than even Hong Kong and France, which are next on the line.
While in India the concept of mom entrepreneurship is not as evolved as west, it is gaining ground, along with the phenomenon of entrepreneurship itself. Last year, for instance, a community called Mompreneurs India was launched to provide support to mothers running a business of their own.
Suchi Mukherjee was involved in scaling up technology businesses in UK, having held top jobs at eBay, Skype, and Gumtree. After that, she moved to India and set up a fashion website LimeRoad.
LimeRoad was the inception of an idea that come to the former investment banker after the birth of her son Aadit, when she was on maternity leave. “Flipping through the pages, I found a piece of jewelry I really wanted to touch and buy. I realized then there was no place where one could access the vast array of amazing products that were being made and shipped out of India,” recollects Mukherjee. With the idea in place for women’s online lifestyle platform, the challenge of turning entrepreneur with two young children to take care of had just started.
She knows that there are many ‘mom things’ she obviously misses in trying to be a successful entrepreneur.
Anant Sardeshmukh, director general of the Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture, (MCCIA) that has a special cell for women entrepreneurs, said the survey’s finding were not surprising. “The business environment for women entrepreneurs has changed substantially in India. There is a lot of potentials and there is Government support as well,” he said.
Lubeina Shahpurwala, who has been at the helm of affairs of Mustang Socks for 12 years, agrees that when it came to workers or banks, she never felt any discrimination based on her gender.
“When it comes to the industry, however, there is a perception that women can’t run a manufacturing outfit. Very recently, one of our clients visited my factory and later expressed his surprise that I know the ins and outs of the place,” she said.
Commenting on the challenges that remain for women entrepreneurs in India, Sardeshmukh said that a majority of these businesses are in the micro sector and expanding them to small and medium scale enterprises tends to happen at a slower rate.