As a woman running a start-up, and as a member of a few entrepreneur communities, I sometimes get the feeling that every second woman I know is starting a business. As a website telling the story of contemporary Indian women, naturally we were very keen to examine this phenomenon.
What is driving so many women to start businesses? What challenges do they face? What helps them succeed? Does gender enter the entrepreneur's mind at all? These were some of the questions that led us to conduct the Women’s Web Women & Entrepreneurship in India 2012 Study.
The study was conducted online between June 1st and 20th and we received responses from 114 women entrepreneurs across the country. (For the full story: Women & Entrepreneurship in India).
Women Entrepreneurs: Key points of interest
- A significant chunk (58%) of entrepreneurs had started their businesses between the ages of 20 and 30; interestingly, 25% had started up even before turning 25, that is, probably before holding a job or a very short time after holding one.
- Bangalore led all other in the presence of women entrepreneurs, while as expected other metros such as Chennai, Mumbai, NCR, Hyderabad and Pune accounted for the bulk of the rest.
- Professional services, IT/ITES, Apparel/ accessories and Food & Beverages are the four major sectors in which women own businesses (59% of those surveyed).
- The majority of women-owned businesses are micro-enterprises or small/mid-sized businesses, with 73% reporting a revenue of under Rs.10,00,000 (Rs. Ten lakh or One million) in the last financial year. Corresponding to this, the majority had under 5 employees (71%).
- What drove women to start businesses? The opportunity to work more creatively and the perceived benefit of being one’s own boss were the top reasons chosen.
- 60% of women entrepreneurs started their business with a capital of under Rs.1,00,000, and personal funds and savings were used to start the business in a majority of cases.
- As for support in their entrepreneurial journey, besides friends and family (the top choices), the growing importance of the entrepreneurial community is reflected in the fact that 26% mentioned other entrepreneurs and entrepreneur groups. 23% also mentioned mentors and advisors.
- On the question of goals, the majority chose growth and profitability related goals (81 and 53% respectively). This may not directly answer the question of whether women entrepreneurs want to scale up their businesses or not, but it does indicate that women’s businesses are not just hobbies or ‘lifestyle businesses’, as sometimes alleged.
- We received a total of 107 responses on what would help them achieve these goals, and the ones listed most often were recruiting skilled people (21%) and funding or financial support (20%).
The full report on WomensWeb.in
About the author: Aparna V. Singh is a onetime marketing professional, now on the ride of her life as Founder-Editor, Women’s Web, a progressive online magazine for women.