India rose to the 3rd spot globally in terms of number of startups in 2015. Also the number of investors doubled, as per NASSCOM. There was a 40 per cent growth rate, where there were about 91 percent men and 9 percent women in the startup ecosystem.
Business Insider recently reported that women founders performed 63 percent better than their male counterparts. In my personal observation of the nation’s patterns and winners of the Digital Women Awards, the most innovative business ideas with the most diverse paradigm perspective have been by women.
2016 is beginning on a solid note as the government of India led by DIPP Secretary Amitabh Kant announced the #StartUpIndia initiative, an effort to launch an action plan to produce a more facilitative environment for both entrepreneurs and investors. (Read more about #StartUpINDIA here.)
Women entrepreneurs are beginning to develop a strong sense of community although there are certain areas of strengths and weaknesses that need attention.
THE FUNDING CHALLENGE
Nidhi Agarwal of Kaaryah was declined by 135 investors she met. The one who bought her storyidea was Ratan Tata. Fund raising has never been easy for women entrepreneurs. A SheThePeople survey shows it is the single biggest challenge.
What makes it even worse in the coming years – fundraising would get more difficult, according to a survey conducted by FirstRound, an average of 97 percent of 500 respondents believed that there were expecting a rapid shift in the funding environment in the coming year. Raising funds for business is not going to get any easier, hence both companies and governments will have to work towards getting more funds to feed the needs of the expanding markets of the nation.
As Hindu reported in a survey of about 35000 startup founders, about 60 percent participants revealed that inefficiencies and corruption in the bureaucratic process were going to be the biggest hurdles for them in 2015. Sharing her personal experience, Founder of one of India’s top salons ‘Mad O Wot’ and social initiative Sheroes Café Sapna Bhavnani shares, “I think the laws in our country are very archaic and need to be changed for anyone to startup and sustain in a business.”
BREAKING BARRIERS, CHANGING MINDSETS
In the same survey, it was also revealed that it is less common for women to believe entrepreneurs have the upper hand vis-à-vis the investors. Only about 45 women believed that they have the upper hand. In, my opinion, this seeps into the patriarchal structure of our society, where girls grow up not believing in themselves. As Anu Acharya, founder and innovator of MapmyGenome rightly pointed out in an interview with ShethePeople.TV that adolescence is a critical age, where young girls need support and motivation.
THE GRASSROOT PROBLEM
In our long history of social development, a few sections got left behind and over time, this has created a large pool of inept and untapped human capital in our society. Higher focus is needed on making innovation accessible as well.
Radha Kapoor, founder of the Indian School of Design and Innovation (ISDI) pointed out the gap in her opinion. She said, “The problem is lack of education infrastructure tailored for women entrepreneurs. A customized program for women covering all areas of a startup business is a dire need in today’s growing economy.”
There also needs to be inclusion of education for women on digital and social media platforms. Radha Kapoor believes that “This will go a long way in, not only boosting their self-confidence, but also provide them with alternate employment option. There is a pressing need to create entrepreneurial hubs wherein budding young women entrepreneurs can be provided with all resources required to incubate their ideas.”
Picture Credit: Entrepreneuhre