7 Tips to Promote Women Entrepreneurship in India

Akash Kumar Goel
8 min readOct 12, 2021

Women entrepreneurs are crucial for economic development. Here’s how women entrepreneurship can be promoted!

how to promote female entrepreneurship

Table of Contents:

#1 Awareness on the Economic Importance of Women Entrepreneurship

#2 Improve Access to Finance

#3 Institutional Support

#4 Discovery Platforms

#5 Let’s Talk Women Role Models

#6 Professional Support Networks

#7 Private Sector Support

A recent report from EdelGive Foundation reveals promising information on women entrepreneurship in our country. India will see a 90% rise in women-owned businesses in the next 5 years, the report says; 80% of women feel a substantial improvement in their socio-economic and cultural status upon becoming entrepreneurs. There is also scientific proof that if any country wants to boost its economy, supporting women-owned businesses is the way to go. Here’s the 2020 study that corroborates this, based on cross-sectional data from 69 countries.

So, what can a nation do to promote entrepreneurship among women? Read on!

#1 Awareness on the Economic Importance of Women Entrepreneurship

MSMEs (micro, small, and medium enterprises) play a crucial role in our economic development. In India, there are about 80 lakh women entrepreneurs in the MSME sector. That’s a sizable contribution to our gross domestic product (GDP)! A 2019 joint study by Google and consulting firm Bain & Company confirms that women-owned businesses could create 150–170 million jobs in India by 2030. This will irrefutably improve the female labor-force participation that has declined in India as of 2020. If the playing field is leveled, our GDP could be boosted by 27%.

Awareness on the Economic Importance of Women Entrepreneurship

Firstly, we must inspire confidence among intersectional women of their massive under-tapped potential. Young girls must learn about women entrepreneurs in academic/social circles to catch the entrepreneurial bug young. For example, incubation cells in Colleges/Universities could introduce a women-only incubator.

Secondly, policy-makers must remember that due to prevalent societal norms that are hard to break, women entrepreneurs find it challenging to traverse the domestic and professional spheres without conflict. Therefore, policies and decisions need to be pro-women and pro-family.

Lastly, the inclusion of women policy-makers will bolster female entrepreneurship as they will have a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by women and the under-tapped economic potential.

#2 Improve Access to Finance

A 2019 report by International Finance Corporation confirms that over 70% of the total finance requirement of India’s women entrepreneurs is unmet; their loan applications face more than twice the number of rejections than men.

Improve Access to Finance — women’s entrepreneurship and microfinance

While the report sounds bleak, it is heartening and reassuring that various state governments implement special startup policies for women entrepreneurs. However, policy-makers at multiple levels could do more to ensure trust in women’s economic power and women-owned businesses. While subsidy/benefit schemes from the government are welcome initiatives, the private sector too must be pro-women. For example, traditional banking institutions could encourage more women to apply for loans by making the process less demanding and undeniably, bias-free.

Digital lending has turned out to be a savior in recent times for small businesses and solopreneurs. With minimum to no paperwork, the loan application process has seen an immense transformation enabling more people to access affordable credit. If more platforms promote easy finance, women entrepreneurs will find it less cumbersome to establish or expand their businesses.

#3 Institutional Support

For more women to participate and contribute to the economy, institutional support is indispensable. The Kerala government’s Kudumbashree program has been backing women’s micro-enterprises for years now. The government of Karnataka has several schemes to foster women-owned businesses. Telangana has a government-led incubator, We Hub to promote women’s entrepreneurship. Women entrepreneurs of Bihar and Jharkhand will be supported by the US Consulate General in Kolkata and Startup India through the ‘Academy for Women Entrepreneurs’ (AWE). More states must follow suit.

Institutional Support — support for women’s entrepreneurship online platform

Another area to improve: bridging the gap between the awareness and availing of benefit schemes, as highlighted by The Print report. Government institutions must take adequate measures to spread awareness on incentives, encourage female beneficiaries to seek them, and promote female entrepreneurship.

#4 Discovery Platforms

Since the pandemic, 11% of women-owned MSMEs have been shut down. For such businesses to stay afloat, discoverability is of high priority. While female entrepreneurs are aware that traditional business models would limit the influence of their business, the switch to conventional e-commerce isn’t easy without a vast catalog of products. Hence, women-owned businesses need to start hosting their business on community/social platforms to be discovered.

Discovery Platforms -advancing female entrepreneurship

Instagram and Pinterest are popular choices among many women startups. Facebook’s joint report with the World Bank and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on small businesses revealed that by the end of 2020, almost a third of small businesses on Facebook had increased their digital sales compared to before the Covid-19 pandemic. Social commerce platforms such as Meesho, Shop on Sheroes, and Fund Femme also see more traction. Here’s an article on social commerce being the future of ecommerce.

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#5 Let’s Talk Women Role Models

Success & failure stories in business mostly revolve around men. If we aspire for more women entrepreneurs, then a girl or a young woman needs to see other women who’ve done it with sass!

Let’s Talk Women Role Models — how to promote female entrepreneurship

An iconic example is the story of the women behind Lijjat Papad. That was much before the advent of social media! With social visibility, success is well within reach, as proven by digital Content Creator Prajakta Koli (popularly known as Mostly Sane) and many others. Some women are focused on meeting Small and Medium Enterprises’ (SMEs) needs with their experience. Here’s a list of inspiring women who turned entrepreneurs empowering the SMEs.

Let’s take a closer look at home. We are likely to see a woman engaged in Direct Selling of products ranging from food items, wellness to jewelry, cosmetics, insurance, utilities, and homewares. They are among the 2.1 million women in the industry. A report says that by 2025, the number of direct sellers would be 18.1 million. So, women need to know such entrepreneurship opportunities exist, given that direct selling generated employment for nearly 122 million Indians who lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

Therefore, we need to start talking more about intersectional women entrepreneurs and their stories — the process, the pain, the pitfalls, the glory, all of it.

#6 Professional Support Networks

Whether setting up a business, expanding it beyond their immediate circle of influence, or taking it globally, women need support — information, resources, and connections.

Professional Support Networks — promote women’s entrepreneurship in india

Professional networking groups that cater exclusively to women or have a women-only vertical offer excellent mentoring and peer-to-peer support for women’s entrepreneurship. Women entrepreneurs — across domains and business scale — must be introduced to these networks to build valuable business contacts and collaborate with fellow entrepreneurs.

The networking events, workshops, and meet-and-greet provide women with an enriching and safe space to gain know-how, share insights, and discover their tribe. It encourages them in their entrepreneurial journey with productive literature, interpersonal connections, and role models.

Indian Women Network, Lean in Circles, International Women’s Federation of Commerce and Industry — India Chapter, Kool Kanya, and Women Entrepreneurs India are popular support networks for women in our country.

#7 Private Sector Support

Private-sector organizations must shoulder women entrepreneurship beyond mere financial aid. A noteworthy example is Q-Mart’s recent initiative We Corner in Telangana for the state’s incubator We Hub. Q-Mart stores will showcase products from women startups, supported by We Hub, with exclusive shelf spaces. This is an attempt to scale the production of Fast-Moving Consumer Goods and provide those startups with supply chain access.

Private Sector Support — support for women’s entrepreneurship

A 10-day long Apple Entrepreneur Camp helps women App founders with direct mentorship and insights from top Apple leaders. Entrepreneurship and engineering are discussed besides one-on-one code-level guidance. Amway’s Livelihood Skills Development Program has helped nurture women entrepreneurs across Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, New Delhi, and Himachal Pradesh. However, more players need to extend their support for women-owned businesses.

#Bonus Tip

Equality — boosting female entrepreneurship

While all of the above surely fosters women entrepreneurship, it could go downhill without enough promotion of this fundamental aspect — collective unlearning of unconscious gender bias! How does this promote women entrepreneurs? Well, think of the time a female friend, a colleague, or an acquaintance approached us with a business idea, and we dismissed it even before it came out of their mouth! Or the time we chose not to ask a female techie about a code change/hardware glitch. There are innumerable examples of women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) who are forced to fight for their achievements as they are undermined based on their gender.

Gender bias is real! The sooner we recognize and act upon it collectively, the more our women entrepreneurs can flourish.

Conclusion

A study published in 2020 on women’s entrepreneurship in the global South conveys that the holdup to women’s empowerment is that they are women living in a patriarchal society. Therefore, we need to overhaul the institutional, cultural, and social restraints on our womenfolk to succeed.

articles on female entrepreneurship

Did you know that Hawaii’s post-Covid economic recovery plan is rooted in a feminist economy? This proves that nations looking to advance economically emphasize empowering their women overall, including women entrepreneurship! Simply put, stronger women build a stronger nation. So, let’s strive towards a country with a woman entrepreneur in every home! May we nourish them and cherish them!

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Akash Kumar Goel

Entrepreneur at Heart. Hands-on experience at managing a business. Enjoys sharing knowledge about entrepreneurship and lifestyle.