Are we ready for Women Entrepreneurs?

The era of start-ups is in its golden period, in spite of the slow down, crashing unicorns & unprofitable businesses. Why? Because the ecosystem of start-ups has now matured. The number of patents has tripled in the last 5 years, however, women hold only 22.9% of patents internationally. In India, the percentage is much less.


But are we ready for women-led start-ups? With Falguni Nayar of Nykaa, Indira Nooyi of PepsiCo, Kiran Mazumdar of Biocon, Melanie Perkins from Canva, and so on being the poster girls for Unicorns and big names, did they actually change the actual scenario of women-led start-ups?

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As per recent figures, only 14% of entrepreneurs in India are women, though globally the figure is one-third, which also means there are 252 million women business owners in the world.

The venture capital ecosystem is still short of embracing gender equality. According to Pitchbook, in 2022, companies founded solely by women garnered just 2% of the total capital invested in VC- backed start-ups in the United States. In Europe, the percentage was even lower, at 0.9%

In India, out of estimated 8 million women entrepreneurs, only 2000 women start-ups have been able to raise funding for their venture. Out of these 2000 women entrepreneurs, only 36% have moved to Series A funding.

According to Ms. Anar Mehta Srishti of Bharat Foundation in Ahmedabad, it was very tough to convince people to fundraising ventures led by women. It is a general mindset that men are superior to women in handling money.

It is especially difficult for women founders who are single or they do not have any family members on the founding team.

This is the situation when studies have shown that with at least one female founder inclusive team has outperformed all-male founding teams by 63%. It is also established that women founders are able to produce a more positive working culture. Sagarika Ghosh from Paaf Global Pvt Ltd, Kolkata was able to tie up with IIT Patna.

It is widely believed that most women lead start-ups are either towards marketing & liaising or extensions in households like cooking, decoration, stitching, designing, or social start-ups. Only 8% of tech start-ups in India are led by women start-ups that utilize deep tech.

Since STEM is discouraged among female students at the education level, gender equality is still a distant goal in women’s participation in technology.

Harassment based on gender is equally a challenge. Namita Thapar, CEO of Emcure Pharmaceuticals is one of the victims. Calling her out or trolling her based on her business would have been acceptable, but commenting about her worthlessness because she wears certain clothes or has access to money, is not what is right in any sense. Can we imagine people telling Aman Gupta of boAT that he dresses up too much?

Still, women are breaking the glass ceiling. Studies have shown that in Western countries, women have more opportunities now however in the Asian subcontinent they have fewer opportunities to raise funds as compared to men. However, of late, the doors for women have been opening a bit more than earlier. While Funds set up by women to fund women-led ventures like Saha Fund, She Capital, AWE Capital, Kalaari, and Enzia Ventures, make it that much easier, the Government of India has also started loan schemes like Dena Shakti Scheme, Mudra Yojana Scheme, Mahila Samriddhi Yojana to elevate the woman entrepreneurship ecosystem in India.

The fact that in the past Private Equity and Venture Capital firms were run by male-dominated Boards and the majority looked at women as incapable of creating unicorns from their start-ups, this mindset is surely changing now. We are on our way to seeing a day where a boss is a boss, a doctor is a doctor, a lawyer is a lawyer and an entrepreneur is an entrepreneur.

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Meghna Agnihotri
Meghna Agnihotri

Meghna is the founder and creative director of Spixels, which operates under the umbrella of her firm, Ammeg Brand Management Solutions. With her company, she aims to make a difference in the lives of individuals with disabilities by creating opportunities and promoting inclusivity.

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