One, two, three…you’re ready to set up your own business. You have finally charted out your plan and your passion will take some real shape. But does funding that idea become a stumbling block? And do women face any unique challenges while seeking funds? Asking for money feels uncomfortable? Or getting it is harder? While it remains true that most venture capitalists and private equity companies are male dominated, what has been the on-ground experience of female founders?
“If you ask me about whether it’s easy for a woman to raise fund or not, I would say it’s getting easier every day now,” says Anuradha Kedia Parekh, founder of The Better India. “We’ve come across several funds which are women specific or women-oriented and lots of companies starting-up with this core motto. Funding has become much easier than before. In general if you have the right idea, nobody can stop you.”
There are women who have just decided to bootstrap but considered scaling up and fund raising a daunting task. Aparna Athreya who runs Kid and Parent Foundation has a complete different view. “I have been fortunate to startup with personal funds. But having said that, one of the challenges currently I’m facing is collect funding to scale up to the next level,” she explains. “While having discussions with other women entrepreneurs, I hear that there are roadblocks even from the banking sector or example, where they ask for a male guarantor. I do not see why that’s need to be shown to get funds as long as your business plan is sound, as long as your backing is sound.” There are other issues as well shares Aparna like for example “women are asked to put collateral in their own names to get money. I personally feel that the funding process needs to be reviewed and needs to be more women friendly for women to tab into their potential.”
Arpita Ganesh, Founder And CEO Buttercups thinks a lot of it depends on the power of your idea. The lingerie startup secured angel funding from a consortium of investors led by Kanwaljit Singh, Angie Mahtaney in 2015. ”What investors really look for is the business plan you have and how you visualise a business. What I have seen is that for men and women both, business plans which are not researched well, are not deep-dialed into, that’s when raising funds for them becomes difficult. So believe in yourself, your ideas and the passion you possess.”
Gender specification doesn’t bother Madhavi Rongala, Founder of House of Taamara who runs a store with an aim revive consumer interest in handcrafted sarees. ”I don’t think it has anything to do with being a woman or a man. Your ideas need to have financial viability or it has to have a social responsibility to be able to raise funds. So it just depends on each individual business plan.”
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Subha Chandrasekaran, founder of RainKraft Creative Solutions is involved with training and consulting in the space of banking, finance and operations. “I have interacted with women entrepreneurs and I do hear that it is particularly difficult for women to get funded. And also it is true that a lesser number of women entrepreneurs are funded. I think the large portion of that may be for someone who’s putting their money on the table really need to be convinced that the entrepreneurs will stay the course because for sure it’s going to be a difficult one. But really in this age, it’s not about your gender; it’s the idea and how much you’re passionate about the idea. Family and all good friends understand that it’s an era where 9 to 5 jobs are no longer the future and if a woman wants to achieve her dreams the society will enable support. It still a long way away since funding gets easier for women, but there are many organisations, many women investors who are focused on it an d we will make a change.”
Rishika Chandan of Home Salon – winner of the our Digital Women Awards says she was often asked where her husband was when she went to meet investors. “Luckily for me, my husband saw big potential in our platform and joined it full time to help me build the business.
Nidhi Agarwal, Founder of Karyaah.com went across to 113 investors before she secured funding from Bangalore based SAHA Fund, Ratan Tata and Mohandas Pai.
India ranks 70 among 77 countries covered in the 2015- Female Entrepreneurship Index. The main reasons that the study identifies for this is lack of funding for women entrepreneurs. A SheThePeople survey earlier this year concluded women call funding their biggest challenge. Hopefully as the numbers grow this is a trend that shall be reversed.