What will it take for the ecosystem to enable women entrepreneurs to grow and scale? Leaders at the launch of GAME’s new segmentation study discuss
Reiterating its commitment to help women entrepreneurs grow and scale, Global Alliance for Mass Entrepreneurship (GAME), an alliance of organisations working to create an entrepreneurial movement in India, announced the launch of its segmentation ‘Unlocking the growth for women mass entrepreneurs: a research study in Bengaluru, India (2020).' The report, commissioned in association with Sattva Consulting, has been a focused attempt at understanding the dreams, aspirations and challenges of women entrepreneurs leading small businesses in Bengaluru.
Women in focus
Highlighting why the segmentation study of women entrepreneurs in Bengaluru is significant, Deepthi B, Manager, Bangalore Task Force at GAME, said, “While there are several segmentation studies, there's just not enough research on women entrepreneurs leading small businesses. Secondly, while previous segmentation studies have focused on national sample sets, there is very little data on women entrepreneurs in Bengaluru. Third, women entrepreneurs face different kinds of challenges and require different types of support.” Deepthi explained that the study bifurcates women entrepreneurs into four different sub-segments, and provides insights on the unique challenges they face and the different recommendations to address these challenges. “Armed with this research and several key insights, we seek to work with our mission-aligned partners in Bengaluru in order to help women entrepreneurs grow and scale,” she said.
Sharing further insights on the relevance and significance of the report, M Srinivas Rao, CEO, GAME, said, “Of the many reasons why we commissioned the study on women entrepreneurs in Bengaluru is that Bengaluru is a microcosm of everything that’s India. It's also probably the most cosmopolitan and fastest-growing city. It's a hotbed of entrepreneurial innovation. In the last four years, 5000+ startups have originated in Bengaluru. So we believed that the learnings which would come of this study will then be easier to replicate across other large cities in India.”
Explaining why GAME focuses understanding and solving the challenges of women entrepreneurs, he said, “Women have structural, cultural and societal challenges. And we believe entrepreneurship will be key to empower women and their families.” He drew attention to the fact that only six percent out of the 63 million MSMEs in India are led by women entrepreneurs and most of them have become entrepreneurs out of necessity and not driven by choices or opportunity.
“There is a huge opportunity to empower women to move from a mindset of being job seekers to job creators. Because, once they start becoming job creators, they will create a thriving entrepreneurial culture and inspire other women to follow,” Srinivas said.
Study highlights: Women entrepreneurs need access to social media, e-commerce channels and financial schemes
Aarti Mohan, Co-founder and Partner at Sattva Consulting, said the study initially focused on understanding how to help women entrepreneurs cut through the chasm of growth and maximise their potential; but the onset of COVID-19 and the economic impact thereof, uncovered interesting insights.
“We have seen that women entrepreneurs have shown resilience and capability to navigate through the challenges.”
Aarti further explained that the study found two key segments of women entrepreneurs - the solopreneurs and the nanopreneurs - and that each of the two segments was divided further into two sub-segments because of the distinct growth challenges and opportunities for each.
On a broad level, they found that linkages to low-cost service providers for building digital presence, linkages to online sales channels, access to financial resources in addition to interventions such as sector-specific workshops to strengthen product-market fit and business incubation cohort-based programme was critical. These interventions would help address challenges related to limited aspirations and preparedness to grow while establishing a long-term business strategy for growth.
Lessons in entrepreneurship and building a sustainable business
Ameera Shah, Managing Director of Metropolis Healthcare in her keynote address said,“Entrepreneurship in India is difficult. And when you're talking about women entrepreneurs, then you have to multiply the complexity many fold. The challenges are internal and external, and it's very important to identify both and understand what we can have influence over and what are the things that we may not be able to have influence over and accept and move on.”
She noted that while many women have been cocooned and protected with good intention, it does not teach them how to manage risks and the realities; qualities essential for entrepreneurship
“It’s up to us to learn by ourselves to take risks and also to allow our daughters and girls to have the required exposure. The ability to navigate risk builds confidence, which is an important internal skillset while navigating entrepreneurship.”
Sharing life lessons from her two-decade-long entrepreneurship journey, Ameera advised women entrepreneurs to scale their business in an organic and sustainable way.
“Business should be nurtured separately, whether it is financially or emotionally. You must have employees who contribute to the vision of the organisation so that the business can continue to exist, survive and thrive even when you are not able to spend time on it.”
Ameera also formally launched the ‘Unlocking the growth for women mass entrepreneurs: a research study in Bengaluru, India (2020) report.
Diverse perspectives on the challenges of women entrepreneurs
A panel discussion chaired by Prof Venkatesh Panchapagesan, Associate Professor of Finance and Chairperson, NSRCEL (Incubation Centre at IIMB), Dr Rajeswari Ranganathan, President, Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Karnataka (AWAKE); Rachna Rao, Co-founder, FoodyBuddy; Dr B.R. Mamatha, Additional Mission Director, Sakala; Shailesh Dixit, Co-Founder, Gromor, Finance, and Dr. Nina Pais, Founder, Ennelle; featured interesting perspectives on the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs and the interventions that could help address some of the challenges.
Sharing their personal entrepreneurial journeys, Dr Rajeshwari, Dr Nina Pais and Rachna shared why family support is critical for women entrepreneurs.
“Be it in terms of financial support, building her confidence, helping her network, family must come forth to help and not challenge her. If people are around are appreciative of her efforts, it will build confidence much more than what a college or academic course can bring,” Dr Rajeshwari shared.
Dr B R Mamatha noted that while today women nanopreneurs and solopreneurs have the mindset to grow, they are often averse to taking risks. She added that there is a strong need for women entrepreneurs to be equipped with digital and financial literacy and that the ecosystem must come together to address this gap.
Shailesh, in his address, called for financial education for women entrepreneurs to draw parallels between their households needs and that of the business.
“All women entrepreneurs have aspirations about a certain standard of living. And, when you are able to establish a connection between how the business can become a key enabler here, it will go on a long way in encouraging them to grow their business. And, this interconnection will also help to build their confidence levels.”
All the panellists concurred on the importance of making technology simple, accessible and mobile-friendly to enable women entrepreneurs to embrace a digital mindset. The panellists also shared an interesting perspective on the need for literacy for an entrepreneur, understanding competence and competitiveness, mentoring and support system and how the ecosystem can pitch in to support the women entrepreneurs.
In his concluding address, Santanu Chari, Vice-President, Bangalore Task Force at GAME, thanked all the panellists and speakers for sharing their perspectives and said that it has given directions for GAME to consider. He also invited the ecosystem to collaborate with GAME. “Let’s come together to take women entrepreneurship ahead. There's a long way to go. This is just the start.”