Times have changed, and women are carving a niche of their own in their respective arenas. They have left prominent footprints in different fields, be it art, science, and technology, or trade and commerce. From culinary art to landing on space, women have made a mark and made their presence felt. However, all said and done, matters are far from smooth when it comes to an Indian woman who aspires to be an entrepreneur. Despite possessing the aptitude, dedication, and talent for business, several personal and professional challenges continue to hold them back. Here, in this article, I am here to highlight the problems faced by women entrepreneurs.
Women of today in most realms of life have been standing in parity with their male counterparts. To talk about women entrepreneurs, the popular women leaders like Indra Nooyi (Board Member of Amazon), Kiran Mazumdar Shaw (Founder of Biocon Ltd), Devita Saraf (Chairman and CEO of VU Technologies), and Vandana Luthra (Founder of VLCC) are worth mentioning, who have greatly contributed to the growth of the Indian economy.
However, women-owned businesses are still a minority. As per the Sixth Economic Census by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, of the 58.5 million businesses in India, 8.05 million are managed by women entrepreneurs.
The Ascent of Women Entrepreneurship
While the effort to minimize gender disparity in the professional field is encouraging, women are still way behind as compared to men. A 2015 study conducted by McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), reveals about the women’s participation in employment and entrepreneurship in India. It says that women’s entrepreneurship has the potential to grow the country’s GDP to $0.7 trillion by 2025, which constitutes a rise of 16%.
Statistics reveal that women constitute nearly 14% of the total entrepreneurs in India. That’s indeed indicating a gradual increase in the rate of women in business. However, we need to go a long way to establish the presence strong.
Challenges faced by women female entrepreneurs
Woman-owned businesses are gaining massive growth and popularity. Despite many challenges, women are keen to take charge of their future.
Let’s discuss the various problems faced by women entrepreneurs.
1. Scarcity of financial resources.
As oxygen is to life, money is to business. For a business to function, capital is a must. Women often come across with funding problems due to two reasons:
- Firstly, women in India usually do not hold any tangible property as a backup to provide collateral security to obtain funds from external sources.
- Secondly, raising capital for a business can be a challenging task. For female entrepreneurs, it is even more difficult, as banks and financial institutions are skeptical about their entrepreneurial abilities. They often consider them less credit-worthy and have a perception that they might leave their business at any time.
Consequently, women in business are left to invest whatever savings they have or rely on their friends and relatives for a loan. Thus, women enterprises fail due to their inability to secure funds for their business.
The government has been continuously working on the upliftment of women. From several government schemes to financial institutions, women entrepreneurs can now avail different types of business loans for starting and running their business.
2. Juggling between family and business
For most Indian women, family commitment takes precedence over professional commitments. Women shoulder several responsibilities, especially when they are married with children. Consequently, striking a balance between family and business, and achieving a work-life balance becomes extremely challenging.
Working for yourself and being self-dependent brings flexibility, but when you have children and aging parents to take care of, managing business simultaneously is a roller-coaster ride.
- The key to the problem is time management and prioritizing. Setting a time for meeting clients, marketing, emails, admin work, should be prioritized, keeping a dedicated time aside for your family.
- For the rest of the work, which doesn’t require you’re your keen involvement, you can delegate it to your efficient team.
3. Struggle in a male dominant industry
Though females are making a mark with their fervor and dedication in the business world, they continue to be regarded as inferior to men despite possessing the requisite skills and aptitude. Thanks to the male chauvinism prevalent in our society, though, our constitution speaks about gender equality.
The societal and cultural expectations of women are different from men. Though women are performing their duties in both domestic and professional realms with complete poise and confidence, they are often perceived as taking the role of a male in the family.
All these factors cause a barrier for women to enter into business. However, the resistance you receive from the people around should not hold you from reaching your full potential. Rather, it should be your strong motivating force to move ahead.
4. Fierce competition with the counterparts
Women entrepreneurs do not have an adequate organizational set up to invest a huge amount of money for advertising and canvassing their products. Consequently, women face fierce competition from the organized sectors and the male counterparts for marketing and establishing their products. Creating your reputation and earning respect in the male-dominant industry is a challenge at every step.
Although there has been an increase in the percentage of women entrepreneurs, it is still gender-biased. To combat this situation:
- You need to cultivate your confidence and be assertive in your professional space, so that people can hear you.
- Staying positive, being proactive, learning conflict resolution, crisis handling, taking leadership roles, and developing an aggressive attitude for learning lifelong, will help you stay on top of the game.
This is one of the ways to address your problems and find solutions to them as a woman entrepreneur.
5. Lack of education and awareness
Lack of education is one of the basic problems of women entrepreneurs in India. Without formal education, knowledge and relevant skills, to deal with issues like business development, accounts, and even day to day functioning of the business can reduce the chances of making it successful. As per the census 2011, the female literacy rate is 65.46%, where the male literacy rate is 80% in India.
Thus, without proper education and technological exposure, women are far from having even basic awareness about market conditions, increasing productivity, minimizing expenditure, promoting a product, or any business knowledge of any kind. All these factors can cause hindrances in setting up and operating a business enterprise for women. Moreover, it may also lead to low motivation among women to achieve high.
- However, access to technology can help you learn and increase your knowledge of different aspects of business, thereby helping accelerate women’s participation in business.
- Not only that, enabling easy access to the internet and acquiring knowledge on digital tools and platforms will help you find plenty of opportunities to expand and scale your business.
6. Absence of support network
An efficient team and a supportive network are vital to finding your place in the business world. Unfortunately, either women-entrepreneurs find no one to guide them, or even if they, they lack support and guidance from their mentors, and end up being on their own.
- Networking has become a new necessity for professional success. Whether you are already into business or seeking to initiate a start-up, you must attend entrepreneurial events and network with the people belonging to your industry.
- Join women entrepreneur groups to find people from your industry, whom you might find resourceful for your ventures. A supporting network will keep you inspired to pursue your ambitions.
- Your mentors and peers might also help you keep a reality check on your capabilities and provide you with ample opportunities to grow and learn from their experiences and perspectives.
7. Social attitude
One of the major problems faced by women entrepreneurs is the social attitude and the constraints on them on how to live and work. This holds particularly for rural India, where women face resistance not only from male members, but also from the elderly people in the family. They find it difficult to accept the principle of equality, and thus restrain women from venturing out.
Rural women have tremendous potential to become entrepreneurs. However, they are not given any scope to learn, or imparted training for learning skills to become self-dependent. Thus, the attitude of society towards women restrains them from becoming entrepreneurs.
8. Restrictions on mobility
For a business to function smoothly, it requires reaching places for tasks like procuring raw materials, sales, and marketing, etc. The immobility of women makes them dependent on office staff and intermediaries to get their work done.
Moving in and around the market is a tough job for women, primarily due to the global issue of women’s safety. A single woman cannot travel anywhere and anytime for work or business due to their safety concerns. Women’s inability to be mobile is one of the prominent reasons why women are held back compared to men.
Efforts are being made to ensure women’s safety, and reducing gender disparity, concerning restrictions on mobility.
- Special “only for women” buses and metros are a sure shot way to ensure complete safety and convenience for women for commuting.
- Installing surveillance cameras at the premises will make women feel more secure while meeting people for business.
9. Low risk-taking attitude
Low risk-taking attitude ranks high among the problems faced by women entrepreneurs. Women usually tend to evaluate many factors around them and the impact of their actions, before taking any decision, and this makes them low-risk takers. Most women, due to not being financially independent and fear of failure, avoid risks required to be taken for entrepreneurship.
Autonomy, independence, the need for high achievement, and the ability to take risk is essential for success in entrepreneurship. If you simply realize that risk-taking is a pre-requite for an entrepreneur, irrespective of being a man or woman, then you are likely to succeed in your business venture.
10. Fear of failure
Fear is the biggest hurdle in the way of success. Your insecurities and fear of failure should not hold you back from dreaming big.
You might face moments of self-doubt before starting a venture, which most beginners do, but this should not stop you from moving ahead. Work through your moments of self-doubt and take the initiative.
The passage to success is paved out of hurdles, mistakes, and mishaps. But you can still make it, as long as you do not consider failure, as an excuse to withdraw from your goals. Instead, you should strive to do better by learning from your mistakes and not repeating them.
Remember, you fail only when you stop trying. So, don’t give up!
Krishna is a Management graduate in Human Resource. She is an avid reader, knowledge seeker, and an adoring mother of two lovely kids.