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Way to go, ladies

Nov 24, 2012

WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS

There is a growing tribe of women below 30 who have plunged into entrepreneurship across SME’s and micro enterprises. They are now enjoying their newfound freedom to express their creativity and provide employability to a large section of the community, says Yeshasvini Ramaswamy

As per industry estimates, women entrepreneurs in India account for nearly 8 per cent of the total entrepreneurs in India. That means the glass ceiling is just about cracking. Going by current trends (education, liberal thinking, attitude, entrepreneurship etc.), the percentage of women entrepreneurs could go up to 20 per cent in the next five years. However, encouraging the figures are, the reality is that gender inequality still persists while the brave and enterprising lot keep finding their métier.

Indeed, women are taking to entrepreneurship in India and in varied fields, be it IT, hospitality, biotechnology, education, healthcare, real estate, banking or telecoms.
From traditionally being home-makers, they have become bread winners too, capable of running their own businesses with aplomb. There are many reasons for the transformation — education being the prime mover and technology hastening the process of transformation. With equal access to technology and education, women have excelled and have proven that they are no less a match to men, if not better.

There are many inspiring stories of women who have led from the front in running businesses. Then there are women who have dared to enter a man’s domain — the shop floor, and set an example that if the woman sets her mind, there is nothing she cannot achieve.

One inspiring story is that of Sudha Murthy of Infosys Foundation who as a fresh graduate joined Telco as a development engineer, after questioning none other than JRD Tata on why a woman was not considered for a Telco job at that time. JRD is said to have told her that the job involved physical activity on the shop floor, full of grease etc. But that did not stop Sudha Murthy. 

Women have reached the upper echelons of business whether it’s a Vinita Bali of Britannia, a Kiran Mazumdar Shaw of Biocon, a Chanda Kochhar of ICICI or an Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo. The typical male bastion has been shattered, so to say, as more and more women have entered the boardrooms of power.  These changes have come as a breath of fresh air. The Indian woman brings to the table qualities of nurturing, multi-tasking, commitment and taking responsibility.  These strengths have a positive impact on businesses.

There is a growing tribe of women below the age of 30 in India who have plunged into entrepreneurship across SME’s and micro enterprises, enjoying their newfound freedom to express their creativity and provide employability to a large section of the community. Many of the social entrepreneurs are also women, who are taking up worthwhile causes like helping the underprivileged, mobilising resources to tackle environmental issues etc.

To answer the question, are there really any impediments to a women’s ascent in India, and are they really empowered?  The answer is both ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ as women still need to go that extra mile to prove their worth. To deny this fact would be to be naïve, but with time and more acceptance, we will see more women taking to entrepreneurship in a big way. There are many powerful forums like CII, NASSCOM, TiE and others, which are fostering women entrepreneurship and are encouraging women to be wealth creators and employers of the future.

The maxim ‘behind every successful man is a woman’ will in due course change. The woman of today is no longer content playing second fiddle.


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