Breaking the shackles of tradition, Indian woman today has not only found a place in the corporate world but has also begun to take strides beyond a corporate career, into the world of entrepreneurship. A corporate career may provide financial independence, but being an entrepreneur takes her beyond that and into a world where she not only gets an opportunity to carve a slot for herself, but also make a difference!
Recently, we have seen an increase in the number of women taking on entrepreneurship. This indicates a healthy trend, but still there is a long way to go before more and more Indian women accept the risk of initiating their own start up. Yes, it is also true that many women give up midway not because they find it hard to become an entrepreneur, but because they find the journey too daunting!
What stops them from taking on that journey? Why is it that despite the change, we do not see as many women on the entrepreneurial map? And why do most people perceive potential failures for women who do take the plunge?
But it is a reality, when a woman sets out to start an entrepreneurial venture, she faces many challenges that may be different to those that men face. Again this does bring in the gender-issue.
Interestingly, the term ‘entrepreneur’ in French roughly translates into ‘adventurer’. And it is true that when a woman steps into this business adventure, the challenges can be huge.
What are some challenges?
- Tough competition
Originally a field that was dominated by men, the scenario in entrepreneurship is changing, but there is still a long way to go. For example, India has the third largest start-up base in the entire world. Over 1,000 new start-ups were added in the last year. Yet the percentage of female start-up founders in India is a measly 11%.
- Lack of Funds
Funding is crucial in order to start a business. However, a large number of Indian women do not have property or assets to their name. Hence, they encounter a problem while applying for loans. This isn’t just a problem in India but across the world. A report by Bloomberg showed that women who own and run businesses receive a lot less funding as compared to what men get.
- Family Conflicts
Women also face the conflict of performing the home role as they are not available to spend enough time with their families. Spending long hours in business can make it difficult to make a work-life balance; and problems may crop up to meet the demands of their family and even society.
In the case of working mothers, taking care of their children takes up a lot of time and energy, thereby often forcing them to give less priority to their business. However, this situation seems to be changing now – as more men are entering the household arena to contribute to the household responsibilities.
- Minimal support
Embarking on an entrepreneurial venture means you need as much support as you can get as you are finding your place in the business world. Unfortunately, in many cases, women find themselves isolated, with no one to guide them. In this day and age, it is most necessary to have experienced mentors and role models. For women, managing their business becomes even more difficult if their family and friends don’t step up to take some household and family responsibilities. As a result, it can be tough to make a mark in an arena that is already dominated by men.
- Lack of education
Without formal education, women entrepreneurs can face many problems. The challenges are many – developing the business line, controlling accounts, understanding money matters or even day-to-day running of the company. It is often seen that lack of information, skills, and the necessary resources to run a business can drag down their chances of turning their business into a success. In fact, according to UNESCO’s education report, women form 68% of the country’s illiterate population.
Today, India can boast of a number of successful women entrepreneurs, and they have created successful business brands globally. However, their journeys have not been easy. Only when their families, investors and the society at large make conscious attempts to bring down the gender walls, then only can women entrepreneurs make a mark and shine in the corporate world.