Women entrepreneurs say the current startup friendly environment in the country will help to fight gender stereotyping and enable “risk-taking” and help them empower themselves at many levels.
Sairee Chahal, founder and CEO of Sheroes, a portal which provides information for women job seekers recalls that she faced a lot of gender stereotyping in the initial days of her business. “I was faced with questions like can you do it? Gladly, things are changing and now, they can see me doing it,” says Chahal.
Chahal, a TeD speaker, co-founded Sheroes in 2012 to provide avenues for women looking for jobs.
“When I started people thought it was an NGO, perhaps, because of the nature of business we were trying to create or perhaps because a woman was heading it,” says Chahal.
According to the 40-year-old there is a need for special focus for policies tailor made for women entrepreneurs. “The exquisite support for women entrepreneurs would help more women to start their businesses and help create more job opportunities and contribute to the overall growth,” she adds.
A study submitted by Nasscom says that there was a 50 per cent increase in women joining the start-up ecosystem over last year. Saifali Agarwal Holani, Founder and CEO, EasyFix, an online portal for home repair service shares an anecdote of gender stereotyping in the business world that exemplifies the difficulties of people accepting that women could run the show. “Once, when I described my startup to an interviewer, his response was followed by an awkward conversation. It is a bit shocking for our male dominated society to accept a woman running the show, that too alone at the age of 25,” says the Delhi-based entrepreneur.
Sakshi Vij, Founder and CEO of Myles, India’s first car sharing and self driving services aimed at helping in decongestion of cities, however, has a different perspective on the challenges faced by women managed start-ups. “The current start-up environment provides an equal opportunity to all entrepreneurs. The cliches are limited to being a women in a male dominated industry. It gets sorted, the moment you have a strong team with you and can showcase results,” says Vij, who started her business with 14 cars in 2013 and now manages a fleet of over 1000 cars across India.
32-year-old Vij opines the government’s start-up policies will help empowering women. “It is encouraging to see a mission to promote entrepreneurial drive which will go a long way in meeting the overall agenda of women empowerment as well,” she says.
Another entrepreneur Debadutta Upadhyaya who started Timessaverz that provides curated home service believes the challenges faced by both men and women remain the same when it comes to start-ups. “There are no specific challenges except that women need family s support more than anything else. Else, in a start up environment it’s all about idea, execution and growth,” says Upadhyaya.
Talking about the potential of women in launching their own startups, Chahal says women are perfect for startup business eco-system. “Men work for three things money, title and work satisfaction in the stated order and women also work for the same three things but in reverse order. It is this attribute of women which makes them perfect for the start-up eco-system,” she says.
Holani, however says women do work for work- satisfaction but every entrepreneur’s primary target is to earn money and women are equally good at controlling finances and taking risks.