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The Entrepreneurship Paradox-what it needs to be a successful women entrepreneur

Updated: Dec 3, 2022

Women owned businesses are highly increasing in the economies of almost all countries.

At a time when there is a sharp focus on diversity and women are being encouraged to break through unseen glass ceilings, turning entrepreneur is providing to be a good way to get more women into the workforce. Women’ is the near half part of the world’s population and increase in the number of women entrepreneur would bring a global revolution in the world’s economy, the development would be fast, responsibilities would be distributed, and more number of alternative solutions would be available. Developing and developed nations have realized that developing women entrepreneurship is indispensable to flourish as economically dominant nations. Therefore creation of platforms and networks for entrepreneurial culture has become prominent issues globally

Skill, knowledge and adaptability in business are the main reasons for women to emerge into business ventures. The Planning Commission as well as the Indian Government recognizes the need for women to be part of mainstream of economic development. Women entrepreneurship is seen as an effective strategy to solve the problems of rural and urban poverty.

In Modern era, more and more women are taking up entrepreneurial activity especially in medium and small scale enterprises .Women owned businesses are highly increasing in the economies of almost all countries. The entrepreneurial potentials of women have gradually been changing with the growing sensitivity to the role and economic status in the society. Skill, knowledge and adaptability in business are the main reasons for women to emerge into business ventures. The Planning Commission as well as the Indian Government recognizes the need for women to be part of mainstream of economic development. Women entrepreneurship is seen as an effective strategy to solve the problems of rural and urban poverty. The role of women entrepreneurs is especially relevant in the situation of large scale unemployment that the country faces. Government of India has defined women entrepreneurs as an enterprise owned and controlled by a woman having a minimum financial interest of 51% of the capital and giving at least 51% of employment generated in the enterprise to women.

Overall, more women entrepreneurs account for improved economic growth & stability within a country.Women entrepreneurs inspire other women to start businesses.This leads to more job creation for women which ultimately helps in reducing the gender gap in the workforce.Women entrepreneurship can make a particularly strong contribution to the economic wellbeing of the family & communities, poverty reduction &women’s empowerment, thus contributing to the Millenium Development Goals (MSGS)

According to a ranking done by Global Entrepreneurship Development Institute (GEDI), India is the last five among 30 countries regarding the status of women entrepreneurs. In the MSME sector as a whole 86.28% units are owned by male whereas women owned units is only 13.72%.The scenario in NE is better than the rest of India with 19% of MSME units being owned by women.

However a large percentage of women enterprises are household and micro enterprises that women often undertakes as a forced economic activity. These enterprises rarely achieve scale and serve only to barely sustain the women entrepreneurs & their families. Many a time these women enterprises have limited exposure to the outside world. This restricts their mobility & makes them dependent on intermediaries to reach the height or achieve scale. The women entrepreneurs’ lack of knowledge & inability to access solutions is the major hindrance

Challenges &Problems of Women Entrepreneurs in India

Multiple factors restrain women from starting their own enterprises. Most prominent, are social norms, which dictate that often make women put home, family and kids before their own aspirations .There are no doubt of signs changing – husbands willing to play second fiddle, when the wife has a smart start-up or a support system for children when both parents are at work but Indian women still battle prejudices and stereotypes that their male peers don’t have to endure.

Thus governments across the world as well as various developmental organizations are actively undertaking promotion of women entrepreneurs through various schemes, incentives and promotional measures. In India, besides the schemes of the Ministry of MSME, there are schemes specifically targeting women entrepreneurs being implemented by various Ministries like the Women and Child Development, schemes under Central and state government, schemes implemented by organizations like Nabard, NSIC, Industries department etc.

Inspite of all efforts to promote women entrepreneurs, women who have come up, often have to overcome both tangible and intangible barriers. Some common barriers include

Ø Whether a women can travel

Ø Whether they will be able to spend money or commit enough

Ø Women are often asked whether their husbands or fathers will be granters, whereas men are not asked such questions

Ø For a women to be taken seriously, she has to work harder than an average man

Ø Having a mentor makes the struggle a little easier. Besides hands on training, women need a supporting eco-system. What is needed is that women should persist and if they persist, there would be enough people to guide and help them. Women should stop thinking of themselves as ‘women entrepreneurs’. To be a successful entrepreneur, one will have to be willing to struggle and sacrifice and take a risk

It needs to be mentioned here that women have a natural knack for starting and running businesses. They understand numbers can multi-task and they always make the most efficient use of limited resources. Both in the rural sector as well as in the urban sector, there are examples of women overcoming all barriers and setting up their own enterprise. Converting cow-dung into vermicompost, rice husk into mushrooms, barren landscapes into mango orchards, the stories of these wonderful women are like a string of pearls. There is a recent trend of women start-ups after completing professional courses and giving up comfort of stable jobs.

Sector specific Business Opportunities for women entrepreneurs

It is seen that most of the women entrepreneurs from Assam are mainly engaged in conventional enterprises like Handloom & Handicraft, Jam/Jelly, Pickle making, Beauty Parlours & Bakery Units. Exposure is necessary for our women entrepreneurs to other sectors as well so that they can cross barriers and open their minds towards different business ideas apart from the sectors traditionally believed to be for women. There is need now for women to go beyond the conventional sectors and look out for opportunities based on resources & skills available in the State.

Ø The Handloom, handicraft and fashion is a vast industry and is also growing at a great pace with different innovative creation. The plethora of opportunities in the sector starts from designer in ethnic women wear, embroidery and needle worker, cane and bamboo worker, decorative show pieces, pottery, carpet designer, fabricator designer, Calendering specialist, handloom technologist, fashion designing etc.

Ø The Education sector has also seen a host of reforms in the recent years that could possibly

Ø transform the country into a knowledge haven. The wide-ranging arena starts with pre nursery education, k-12 schools, supplementary education, extra-curricular activities, competitive exam preparation, colleges, vocational training institutes, creation of a common Platform to connect teachers & students, platform for teachers, Content sharing platform, Discussion portals exclusively for teachers or students, Content sharing portal, Portal for searching schools or pre-schools, Game based learning, E-commerce for school accessories, Communication channels between schools and parents, ERP, CRM for simplifying internal admin processes of schools etc.

Ø Another tremendously growing industry is the beauty and wellness industry in India that is booming, with a tremendous potential for growth in 2018. The Indian wellness market offers huge business opportunity waiting to be harnessed with significant scope for penetration, especially in areas like nutrition, rejuvenation, fitness, Opening of Beauty Salon, Gym, Spa, Hygiene Product, Beauty Clinic businesses, beauty professionals, hair stylists, makeup artists, yoga and fitness professional, nail technicians & spa therapists.

Ø In India the logistics industry is also evolving rapidly,the business opportunities in Logistics are Logistics and supply chain consultancy, Courier services, Movers and packer’s service, Independent Consultant.etc

Ø Agriculture which is the backbone of Assam economy is also witnessing a tremendous growth. Assam is still heavily dependent on the agricultural sector. More than 100 species of Bamboo are naturally available in this region.216 fish species, out of which 150 species have ornamental importance and 50 species have overseas ornamental value. The tremendous growth in these sectors also gives various business opportunities like Agri clinic , Cold chain for fruits & vegetables, Livestock feed production business, Rice Mill, Vermicompost Production, Banana Wafer making, Cashew Processing, Bakery, Chips production, Coconut oil production, Pickle making , Dal milling business, Dry fruit production, Honey processing, Spice power processing, Packaged food processing etc.

Ø Another most vibrant activity and a multi-billion industry in India is the Tourism Industry. The Indian Tourism & Hospitality Industry is 40th (among 136 economies across the world in 2017) as per ranking in Tourism & Travel Competitive Index (TTCI) released by the WEF. The various business trend in the tourism sector are Adventure Tourism, Event planning, Taxi and Bus Shuttle Business, Ferry Business, Boat Cruise Business,Pilgrimage TravellingCompany, Online Hotel Booking Sites.Blogging on Travels and Tourism Related Topics, Travel agency which does travel arrangements for guests which include securing of passports and visas to bookings for airlines, hotels, tours, etc. Together with the Tourism sector the online business sector has gained grounds now globally as well as in India. Here are few online business ideas to get started with Blogger, SEO consultantSpecialized retailer, Social media consultant, Web design,Remote technical support, App development, Handmade craft seller etc.


Entrepreneurship is presently the most discussed and encouraged concept all over the world to overcome economic challenges. Women being the vital gender of the overall population have great capacity and potential to be the contributor in the overall economic development of any nation. Therefore, programs and policies need to be customized to not just encourage entrepreneurship but also implement strategies which can help support entrepreneurial culture among youth. Media has the potential to play the most vital role in entrepreneurial development by creating and highlighting all such platforms which can bring out the creativity and innovation among the women and men to grow entrepreneurship culture in society. Developing countries are definitely in dire need to encourage women entrepreneurship as women workforce is promptly available to exploit the unexplored dimensions of business ventures. Generally speaking, globally business world has realized and is working on war footing to create entrepreneurship as the final remedy to overcome all types of business and market challenges. Women are willing to take up business and contribute to the nation’s growth. Their role is being recognized and steps are taken to promote women entrepreneurship. Resurgence of entrepreneurship is the need of the hour. Women entrepreneurs must be moulded properly with entrepreneurial traits and skills to meet changing trends and challenging global markets, and also be competent enough to sustain and strive in the local economic arena.

Dr. Sriparna B. Baruah

"Nurturing Entrepreneurs, Catalyzing Entrepreneurship"

Retd. Head - Centre for Industrial Extension, IIE

Advisor - NEHHDC (Livelihoods and Entrepreneurship)

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