Women entrepreneurs in India have come a long way since the startup revolution surfaced. While earlier the place for women entrepreneurs was relegated to SMEs or cottage industries, you now see them venturing into other spaces as well. To encourage their role in business, the Indian government had started various schemes that were mostly limited to SMEs and cottage industries. But, the latest flock of the educated and tech-savvy women entrepreneurs are now creating history.
The last two years, especially, saw a lot of women-run startups come up: LimeRoad, Kaaryah, Zivame, CashKaro, media tech companies like YourStory and POPxo, and many more. Some of them have managed to create quite a furore, and the government and different venture capitalists and angel investors are now coming up with strategies to encourage such women entrepreneurs. Also, the technology-assisted, pro-startup culture is encouraging women to set up their own business.
If you are a woman who is wishing to be pursue entrepreneurship, you don’t have anything to worry about. The facts and figures of the last two years are in your favour. Last year saw a 50 per cent increase in women entrepreneurs in India as compared to 2014. Experts feel that a startup headed by a woman has a better chance of survival. So are you now inspired enough to start your own venture? If yes, then one of the challenges that you’ll face is raising funding. Here are five tips that you need to keep in mind while raising funds:
- Network with the right people: As an entrepreneur, you need to have access to the right resources. The simplest way to get access to more resources is through networking. Yes, the more you network, the more you’ll get in touch with people who are in different areas and they might ultimately lead your way to funding opportunities. There are many organisations that support women entrepreneurship, offer financial advice and also provide mentorship. Make an effort to get in touch with powerful individuals who support women in business and seize the opportunity. In India, more and more organisations are coming forward to help.
- Seek corporate and government support: As mentioned earlier, the Indian government has been forthcoming while helping women entrepreneurs. It has set aside funds and formulated policies to encourage minority and women-owned businesses. Likewise, a lot of big corporates too have started funding startups and are encouraging women to get into business.
- Look for different funding options: Interestingly enough, there are a lot of options you may not have considered for raising funds. While, traditionally, venture capitalist and equity funding were the way forward, one doesn’t have to limit oneself to just those. Several nationalised and private banks too are lending loans at great rates to women entrepreneurs. You can also opt for the different schemes that the government has introduced in the recent past.
- Crowdfunding: Though not used that much, crowdfunding is a great way to raise capital. There are two ways of going about this: rewards-based or through equity. In the first instance, you send a product or service of your company, in exchange for the money they give. As far as equity is concerned, you’re giving the ‘lenders’ a part of your company to own, i.e. they’re buying the stocks of your company. In the recent past, even movies have been crowdfunded, for example the successful Kannada film Lucia.
- Look for women angel investors: Why not look for angel women investors? There are plenty now in the industry who are looking to encourage women entrepreneurs. Studies have shown that women investors are twice likely to invest in women in business. Recently, SAHA Fund, a venture capital fund for women-centric businesses was launched by women for the same purpose. It is a Rs 100-crore company looking to invest in companies run by women or companies that employ more than 60 per cent women employees, or run by men but deliver services or make products for women.
There is nothing holding you back as a women entrepreneur today if you have made up your mind, as there are lot of opportunities waiting to be explored. So what are you waiting for? Take the plunge and write your own story.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory)