Women entrepreneurs have the ability to influence and inspire future generations. For women, the reasons for starting their own business can be different. According to the EdelGive Foundation’s Landscape Study on Women Entrepreneurship, 64 percent of the women surveyed became self-employed out of necessity and because of the financial situation of their families. However, 63 percent also expect that the impact of their entrepreneurial ventures will lead to an improvement in their social status and ensure a certain degree of financial independence. Given these motivations and expectations, it follows that, in addition to meeting the basic needs of food and shelter, women entrepreneurs are also likely to invest in improving their families’ standard of living.
According to the above study, around 53 percent of female entrepreneurs invest in their children’s education. 80 percent felt a significant improvement in their status (in the family and in society) and 43 percent felt that they could now decide where to seek treatment for their illnesses. As women entrepreneurs achieve financial independence, they are more able to cultivate an independent mindset in their offspring by explaining the importance of separate income, the freedom it offers and the sense of accomplishment that a career can bring and justify . Female entrepreneurs can set a good example and provide future generations with professional and life skills while at the same time improving their standard of living with their income.
However, in India, women’s participation in the labor market and in entrepreneurship is neither as widespread nor as robust as in other countries of the world. The 2021 Periodic Labor Force Survey found that the female labor force participation rate in India was just 26.4 percent in rural areas and 20.4 percent in urban areas. When women consider starting a business, a number of factors are at play, such as patriarchal mindsets against women’s participation in economic activities, internalized gender roles that are further reinforced by their families, and difficulties in obtaining the necessary finance or assets to start a business , a role.
Fortunately, recognizing the importance of the socio-economic contribution of women entrepreneurs from semi-urban and rural areas, the government has produced a number of programs and policies that enable women to start their own businesses. Some of these are the National Mission for Empowerment of Women, Prime Minister’s Rojgar Yojana (PMRY), Entrepreneurial Development Programs (EDPs), Management Development Programs and Women’s Development Corporations (WDC).
Additionally, at the community level, models such as self-help groups, cooperatives and NGO-backed businesses go a long way in helping women start, establish and sustain their businesses. In India, SHGs and Cooperatives provide a platform for women to share and raise awareness on saving, education, health, family care, cleanliness, nutrition, the environment and more. NGOs can further support women entrepreneurs with training, skills development, networking and information sharing related to their legal rights. Therefore, these collectives and collaborative businesses are not only vital for attracting women entrepreneurs, but also enable capacity building, knowledge sharing and the ability to take calculated risks to grow or expand their businesses.
Then there is another fundamental force at play – women are examples of success not only for other women but also for communities and societies. A person’s success, especially a woman’s, has the potential to change people’s attitudes towards stereotyped gender roles. Watching a woman entrepreneur thrive in the business arena, especially one from the local community, can inspire other women to start their ventures and encourage their families to support them as well.
By enabling and empowering the ecosystem needed for women’s independence — beginning with gender awareness and support from their families — women’s entrepreneurship can thrive. It will ensure women’s long-term labor market participation and enable them to earn higher and more stable incomes. It is vital that we continue to work for all women across India and provide them with equal opportunities to earn a living, develop self-esteem, improve their financial and social standing and assert their independence.
The author is Chairman of the Board of the EdelGive Foundation.
The thoughts and opinions shared here are those of the author.
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