Women entrepreneurs have the potential to be the biggest force in India’s economic growth story. Corroborating this, a McKinsey Global report states that India can potentially add $700 billion to global GDP by increasing women’s participation in its labour force.
Unlike before, in several places, Indian women now have an independent identity to stand for themselves, access to a better quality of life, and a balance of power. But to attain all this, they had to come a long way and have many miles to go.
At the grand finale of the India MSME Summit 2022, Sheetal Kapoor, Co-founder of SHR Lifestyle Pvt Ltd., and George J Aikara, CEO of United Way Mumbai, discussed the importance of creating markets for women-led MSMEs.
Key takeaways from the panel discussion:
Adding value to economic development: According to the panellists, in the last economic survey, only 13.8 percent of enterprises were led by women entrepreneurs. Notably, women contribute to over 50 percent of the Indian population. Panellists highlighted that the non-representation of women leads to an economic loss, and it needs to be addressed by women entrepreneurs.
Women are smarter decision-makers: Be it finance or management, panellists said that women are smarter decision-makers, and society needs to leverage that by conditioning their mindset. They add that a mental change in society is necessary, where it needs to break down the assumptions attached to a woman.
Change the expectations of women: Sheetal and Geroge agreed that society needs to change its expectations of women. The times have changed, and if a woman is doing business, it is not necessary to be part-time or out of a hobby. The economics behind women’s contribution should not be overlooked, they added.
Accessibility should be easier: The panellists said that educating women entrepreneurs should be a high priority, and the barriers to education should be resolved. Besides, the access barrier to finance, in the absence of collateral, especially for male-dominated businesses where women are venturing, needs redressal from institutions.
Inspire women entrepreneurs: Programmes designed for women are flawed, George says. He emphasised that most programmes are designed for entrepreneurs in general. However, as each entrepreneur has a different skill set, the programme should also be designed to target women entrepreneurs.
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