[Year in Review 2020] Courage, creativity, collaboration – 120 inspiring quotes on women entrepreneurship

From a wide range of articles in YourStory, HerStory, SocialStory, SMBstory and YS Weekender, we present you 120 inspiring quotes on women changemakers!

Madanmohan Rao

Rekha Balakrishnan

[Year in Review 2020] Courage, creativity, collaboration – 120 inspiring quotes on women entrepreneurship

Tuesday December 29, 2020,

19 min Read

Launched in 2014, StoryBites is a regular feature from YourStory, featuring notable quotable quotes in our past articles. Share these gems and insights with your colleagues and networks, and check back to the original articles for more insights.

It’s not been an easy year for us, in this era of the pandemic. Deloitte recently conducted a survey of nearly 400 working women across nine countries, at a variety of career levels of seniority and spanning various industries. It revealed the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on their daily routines, physical and mental health, and careers.

Nearly 82 percent of women surveyed said their lives have been negatively disrupted by the pandemic. Nearly 70 percent of women who have experienced these disruptions are concerned their career growth may be limited as a result.

Sixty five percent now have more responsibility for household chores, and one-third said their workloads have increased due to the pandemic. Of those with children, 58 percent reported added childcare responsibilities and 53 percent reported added home-schooling/ education responsibilities

While unconscious biases, stereotypes and pay parity have long been stumbling blocks for women, the pandemic has made the road even tougher. But as former US First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong it is until it's in hot water.”

The pandemic may have put a stop to many of their goals, but it has also revealed that with grit and determination, women have proved, When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

While adjusting to a new normal, they have “pivoted and persisted” as entrepreneurs, tried to find that largely elusive balance between life and work, and are now all set to be part of a world that’s been changed by the onset of the pandemic.

We, at HerStory celebrated and saluted these women throughout the year – by telling stories of their struggles, challenges, and successes. As we move into 2021, and a pandemic-free world still seems distant, we will continue to extend that solidarity of sisterhood – we are in this together, and we shall overcome, together.

Meanwhile, here are some powerful quotes on women entrepreneurship – for inspiration is right there where you need it – at HerStory. We have divided these 120 quotes into 12 categories: the big picture, business, leadership, entrepreneurship, investment, biases, media, the India story, pandemic era, health, youth, and mindsets.

Make it a habit to check out our Daily Capsule, Weekly Founding Roundup, and quotes compilation StoryBites, featuring notable quotable quotes in our articles of each past week.

YourStory wishes all entrepreneurs and readers all the very best for the rest of 2020, and a Happy New Year for 2021 and beyond!


The big picture

Economic data suggests a clear positive correlation between higher participation of women in the workforce and a country’s development. - Sandeep Tandon, Whiteboard Capital

Harnessing the incredible talents and potential of women will create a stronger economy, and a more peaceful, healthier, sustainable, world for all. - Cherie Blair

Democratic countries where human rights are respected and where women are able to reach top positions in society are also the countries that are the best-equipped to handle crises by Covid-19. - Maggie McGrath, Forbes

The world has changed a lot in 2020, but for women, the world is changing every day: women have changed discourses and challenged spaces. - Isaivani

Attaining gender equality is very important to encourage women and to get equal opportunities and rights. - Ananya Kamboj

The business world

The corporate sector can also play a key role in breaking the negative stereotypes about women’s capacity in STEM fields. - Padma Duddu, OGS

A strong set of women teachers in the corporate field is sure to support the growth of the next generation of fearless female leaders. - S.K. Nigam, Stratbeans

Women-owned businesses in India, especially small businesses, have tremendous untapped potential that can transform economies. Yet, India has one of the highest gender gaps in the world. - Porush Singh, Mastercard

Workplace should not only recognise but celebrate differences. - Anjali Bansal, Avaani Capital

Companies need to be encouraged to re-evaluate both their recruitment systems as well as their performance evaluation metrics to reduce the inherent gender biases. - Ipshita Sen, Engendered

Empowering women and creating equal opportunities play a crucial role in building and sustaining a gender-equal world. - C P Gurnani, Tech Mahindra

Architecture is still considered to be a male-dominated profession, and women are labelled as mere ‘decorators,’ and the more technical aspect of work is handed over to men. - Dilraj L Bhatia, DBEL Studio

As we move towards a more progressive society, we need to start looking at diversity and inclusion more holistically, and stop compartmentalising each of the issues. - Shilpa Sinha Harsh, Hinduja Global Solutions

Inclusion is a prerequisite for building a diverse ecosystem. - Krishna Raghavan, Flipkart

The whole thing about maternity and the leave period is a big thing for a woman in her life. - Samiskha Bajaj, Samshék

There is a 170-year gender gap between men and women, and this isn’t just in terms of jobs or salaries. The difference is across the board. - Anisha Singh, She Capital

We really need to look at the judiciary, and also have more women in the court as well as female lawyers. - Shoko Noda, UNDP



To develop a leadership pipeline, organisations should identify high-potential women across all levels in their firms, and actively mentor them. - Soumya Rajan, Waterfield Advisors

When you run into a leadership journey, it's like war, and everything is fair in love and war. - Anuranjita Kumar, Women in Technology (WiT) forum

We need more women as leaders because their devotion, passion, and commitment is an inspiration to our society. - Irfan Khan, eBikeGo

The thing about women leadership is that it still has a potential to grow. This growth will be both quantitative and qualitative. - Suchita Oswal Jain, Vardhman Textiles

More diverse teams perform better financially, particularly when women occupy top management roles. - Usha Kommuru, Anthill Ventures

The world of entrepreneurship

The path of entrepreneurship, if you're a woman, is just steeper. - Shivaarti Bajaj, BoxEngage

Women for the first time are taking centrestage in driving ecommerce adoption, and opening up new categories dominated by fresh perishables. - Varun Khurana, Crofarm

One successful woman entrepreneur opens a wide window of opportunities for many. - Vinay Subramanyam, Britannia Industries

There are huge gaps and lack of opportunities faced by women entrepreneurs — especially when it comes to accessibility to network, mentorship, and fundraising. - Shweta Rajpal, Sequoia Capital India

It sometimes can be harder for female founders to build strong networks because of fewer college/MBA networks, rigid social structures, biased peer perceptions. - Radhika Agarwal, Blume Ventures

Women entrepreneurship is no longer a ‘nice to have’ phenomenon, but a crucial pedestal for India to meet its target of job creation and economic development. - Ratna Mehta, Wadhwani Foundation

Making women entrepreneurs helps them gain financial independence and they are able to provide better quality of life to their children and family as a whole. - Neelam Makhijani, ChildFund India

Although the number of women-founded and co-founded startups are on the increase, investors are still sceptical about investing in women tech entrepreneurs. - Nikhil Rungta, Verizon Media

Even under these trying circumstances, a handful of women entrepreneurs in India showed the way forward by taking up social entrepreneurship. - Sheenam Ohrie, Dell Technologies

Women are exploring beyond traditional women-dominant industries. There are many below-30 women entrepreneurs and their risk-taking is much higher. - Priti Sawant, JoulesToWatts

The best part of becoming an entrepreneur is you become an inspiration for homemakers and women around you. - Vijayeeni Sahoo, Shree Boutique

Women entrepreneurs are known to have an advantage relative to men in strategic innovation, and entrepreneurial mindset. - Dafna Kariv

Women are no longer envisaged as mere homemakers. They are being seen as upcoming entrepreneurs possessing numerous abilities. - Anjali Mohan, Danbro

We need to celebrate women founders a lot more. - Rajan Anandan, Sequoia Capital India

The preschool space is a great fitment for women willing to begin their journey as edupreneurs. - Prajodh Rajan, EuroKids International

In a country struggling to outgrow millennia of entrenched gender hierarchies, being a woman entrepreneur is one of the most challenging career paths a person can take. - Vaibhav Vasa, Biz Analyst

Dearth of skill training, refinement centres, and employment programmes affect the growth of women entrepreneurs. - Kiran Dham, Globus Infocom


Investments and finance

Early-stage female founders pitching for capital on an average receive $1 million less than their male counterparts. - Tamara Steffens, Microsoft M12

Now, more than ever, the spotlight is on the diversity and inclusion across every sector of the industry, and the technology and investment ecosystems are no exception to this. - Ruby Nimkar, GreenHouse Capital

Understanding the need of each women entrepreneur and providing her with the right amount of capital with guidance is key. - Ritesh Jain, FlexiLoans

Real empowerment comes only when women have financial empowerment and financial independence. - Nisary Mahesh, HerMoneyTalks

With a plethora of platforms available, it is time now for women to get into the wealth creation game. - Siddhant Raizada, Kristal.AI

Economic empowerment of women is fundamental to achieving gender equality and inclusive growth. -  Soumya Kapoor, IWWAGE

More and more lenders are creating loans and credit card offerings that are specifically aimed at the woman consumer. - Sujata Ahlawat, TransUnion CIBIL

There is also a need to create greater accessibility to financial services and nurture supportive entrepreneurial conditions for women. - Neha Bagaria, JobsForHer

Blocks and biases

Being a woman leader is hard and the effort it takes for a woman to prove herself is disproportionately higher to the effort a man makes in the same domain for the same position. - Anupama Tej, Tinystep

The cis white male patriarchal system, in which we currently are, doesn’t support the diversity of sexual expression. - Angelina Aleksandrovich, Raspberry Dream Labs

Women are 51 percent less likely to use the internet than men. Why? Largely because of the safety and security concerns surrounding sharing their pictures online. - Roxna Irani, Facebook

Women who want to put their own needs first are always looked at as being selfish, ambitious or bitchy. We need to take a step back, and break away from that kind of boxing in. - Alankrita Shrivastava

If you are a woman and individually handling things, sometimes people don’t take you seriously. - Geeta Singh, TYC Communication

There is a gap specifically in the areas of science, tech and deep tech where there is no support system that has been created to focus on women founders. - Madhurima Agarwal, NetApp Excellerator

Women are always questioned about strength and endurance, their competitiveness, be it on sports field, in their professional careers or other spheres. - Kopal Goyal, ‘Project Wild Women’

It's important to look to history and understand that groups of people were denied pleasure as a form of oppression. - Polly Rodriguez, Unbound

When a woman works from home, she is considered a housewife only. - Lalita Patil, Gharachi Aathvan

Isn't it unfair to see a woman just being a housewife, or just being a professional, or just being so one-dimensional? How can you take away from them everything else that they are? - Kirti Kulhari

A lot of differently-abled women are forced to deal with discrimination, violence, and stigma to create an identity for themselves. - Aiswarya Rao, Better World Shelter

Many Indian women are ruling out career opportunities to stay closer to home, whether it's down to safety concerns or a lack of travel options. - Lucinda Barlow, Uber

There are not as many women in STEM as we would like to see. Availability of talent and hiring is difficult. - Inken Braunschmidt, Halma


Media and images

Right from television to films, media has helped change the outlook of people towards women. - Sonia Huria, Viacom18 Media

In Tamil cinema, the role of a mother is often reduced to just that - a homemaker, a caretaker, who serves the hero or heroine’s plot conveniently. - Drishya, 'B Selvi & Daughters'

If women are to be empowered through their news consumption, it is important to understand their news needs, news consumption, and their interaction with the new digital technologies and social media. - Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation report

The future of the PR industry clearly includes many female leaders, and the forecasted figures only point towards an unprecedented perpetual increase. - Anindita Gupta, Scenic Communication

Blouses should be freed from the trappings of misogynistic attitude. - Arunisha Sengputa, Choli Boli

From your neighbour to your mother, teacher to even your friend, every woman has a story. On a side note, men also have stories, but the challenges a woman faces, compared to that of a man, are relatively vast. - Nitya Rathi, Rebel Girls

In marketing and advertising, women of all colour should be equal. - Shobia Ooruthirapathy

If we cannot see, we cannot be. - ElsaMarie D’Silva, Safecity

The India story

Women’s economic empowerment at the grassroots is hindered by a lack of enabling environment and a lack of suitable employment opportunities available to women. - Nikita Wadhwa, CIP

India is unique in that women put in an enormous amount of time into unpaid care (almost nine times as much as men). - Soumya Kapoor, IWWAGE

Of the 63 million MSMEs in India, only six per cent are women-led, a criminal waste of talent. - Ajay Kela, Wadhwani Foundation

The participation of women in urban areas wherein more than 55 per cent are salaried is far poorer than rural women who are self-employed. - Rituparna Chakraborty, TeamLease Services

There are more than 15 million unemployed or underemployed rural women in India. - Kunal Vaid, Resham Sutra

There are over 200 million literate women in urban India out of which 148 million are not employed or studying. - Nishtha Yogesh, Hunar Online

While child marriage is a practice that affects both girls and boys, its impact on girls, especially from marginalised communities, is higher. - Puja Marwaha, CRY

A framework developed by women’s organisations, policymakers, and child protection entities with provisions to file a complaint and expedite is the need of the hour. - Dhanya Menon, cybercrime investigator

Why does women’s cricket have to be compared to men’s cricket? Let’s compare it to the growth of other women’s sports like tennis. - Smriti Mandhana

Just as we say that a bird with one wing cannot fly, women that make up more than half the population of India must also be part of the growth story. - Jahnabi Phookan, FICCI FLO

If Bangladesh could turn the tables by closing gender gaps, why not India? - Aks Khurana, Alpha Urbane Project

When it comes to women’s participation in the urban workforce, we are behind countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. - TR Ramachandran, Visa

There is no reason why women can’t be successful entrepreneurs in India. - Rubal Chib, QZense

Indian women do more unpaid care work than anywhere in the world. It’s around six hours per day. - Christina MacGillivray, 'Women in Labour'

The number of women entrepreneurs in India has risen over the years. A lot of government organisations are conducting training courses, online and offline, for women entrepreneurs.  - Aarushi, Lavish

It’s encouraging that we, in India, have a better ratio of women in the ICT workforce at about 34 percent – but less than 1 percent are in the C-Suite. - Jaya Jagadish, AMD


Women in the pandemic era

The coronavirus pandemic has set women professionals back by more than a decade, further disbalancing gender parity at work. - Anuranjita Kumar, WiT India

The pandemic has given rise to unpaid care work that women provide and there has been a reduction in external investment towards women-led enterprises as businesses continue to be affected due to disruption. - Naghma Mulla, EdelGive Foundation

Working from home allows many women an opportunity to earn a living while being at home, opening up opportunities like never before. - Aswathy Palakkal, Dunzo

Today’s reality shows women are bearing the brunt of the crisis far more severely. It is widening gender gaps and eroding the power and freedom that women had just about started earning before the pandemic. - Shravani Prakash, elleNomics

There is an increasing sense of creating a work-life balance in offices because a majority of women still experience job spill over into the home. - Imaan Javan, Suntuity

Constructive discussions are happening at homes to upskill women so that they can start working. While working now on household chores, men are getting upskilled too! - Shivananda Koteshwar Shivoo, Synopsys

The global COVID-19 pandemic has increased pressure on India’s farmers, especially women farmers shouldering extra responsibilities in the household while seeing their incomes diminish overnight. - Kathleen McLaughlin, Walmart Foundation

Lockdown has just been an accelerator allowing women to deepen their capital market knowledge via digital solutions. - Shankar Vailaya, BNP Paribas

Because of the lockdown and lack of income, the underprivileged women found it extremely difficult to maintain menstrual hygiene. - Megha Bhargava, DITC, Mumbai

Besides surviving through the pandemic, Indian girls and women have to fight another battle – to ensure access to menstrual health and hygiene. - Puja Marwaha, CRY

With the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, many women will have limited access to menstrual hygiene products and services. - Kaustubh Sonalkar, Essar Foundation

The COVID-19 pandemic has become a global health crisis, and has a devastating effect on everyone, especially on pregnant women. - Dr. Venkatesh Babu

With social distancing norms in place, many women are unable to contact their regular support systems. - Rekha Sharma, NCW

Women have contributed disproportionately, whether in care or in suffering in this pandemic. They are also going to experience a disproportionate economic fallout in all spheres. - Priya Varadarajan, Durga

Peace is not just the absence of war. Many women under lockdown for COVID-19 face violence where they should be safest: in their own homes. - Antonio Guterres, UN

If we can quickly learn new digital etiquettes and Namastes for COVID-19, why do we find it hard to bust gender norms and stereotypes that promote and normalise violence? - ElsaMarie D’Silva, Safecity


Health and wellness

As immunity levels are lower than normal during pregnancy, women need to be very alert and take all precautions so that infection doesn't happen. - Jaideep Malhotra, Pruoo

The industry has been highly supportive of men and women who are open-minded to the needs of feminine menstrual health, breaking all taboos associated with menstruation. - Deepika Sharma, Hempstrol

Around 12 billion pads are used annually by women. Around 98 percent of the waste ends up in water bodies and landfills. - Ajinkya Dhariya, PadCare Labs

Even today, many in India are living without access to menstrual products, lack of privacy to wash, or use clean toilets. A collective approach is imperative to root this out. - Deane De Menezes, Red is the New Green

Given the taboo around menstruation, women usually neither use clean cloth, nor can they put out their menstrual wear out in the sun. - Paromita Goswami, Shiv Nadar University

Mass-produced products with so many chemicals in it can actually harm the development of the fetus, which so many women are unaware of. - Ashwini Gaikar, Surprise Elements

Starting young

The biggest change will happen if you encourage girls to code earlier and say they are no different from the boys. - Natasha Jethanandani, Kaleidofin

Education begins at home. If the society has to change, then parents must teach boys about mutual respect for all. - Vishal Saurav, Xboom

It’s very important to highlight the women who are excelling in sports and make these young girls realise that sport is no more only about men. - Chandrakala Rao

While the world has mustered the political will to send many girls to school, it has come up embarrassingly short on equipping them with the skills and support they need not only to shape their own destinies, but to live in safety and dignity. - Henrietta Fore, UNICEF

There are so many myths and taboos that get passed on from older generations, and there is no breaking of the cycle of these taboos because women don't talk about their periods. - Soumya Dabriwal, Project Baala


Mindsets and resilience

Women need to believe in their ability as creators and not let anything or anyone deter them from their paths. - Anamika Sengupta, Almitra Sustainables

Pursue your dreams, don’t let daily life detract you from living life. Believe in yourself and the power inside you to change the world. - Madhurima Agarwal, NetApp

Don’t get bitter, just get better. - Alyssa Edwards

At the end of the day, what matters is that the work gets done, and how many barriers are overcome each new day. - Maitri Shah, Mind Assets

Bias is a bias, the more you focus on it, the more troublesome it will get. - Yashodhara Bajoria, CAXpert

Don’t let bias kick you out of the future. - Jenny Lawton, Techstars

Do not just look for role models, be the one too. - Manbir Kaur, ‘Are You The Leader You Want To Be?’

Never try to be a man in the so-called ‘Man’s World’ of corporate leadership and entrepreneurial journey because it’s a privilege to be a woman. - Swati Biswas, Terrago Logistics

Women communities are safe spaces that make it easier for them to be candid, original and authentic, and where expressions of vulnerability are encouraged. - Vanshika Goenka, Kool Kanya


The road ahead

Women must take the ownership to drive their growth trajectory, and make conscious efforts to not shy away from speaking their mind. - Sonali Thite, Flipkart

Around us, we are seeing more and more women take charge of their lives, and at least realise that they have a right to their own lives, to their own bodies. - Vidya Balan

The most important factor to encourage gender diversity is “Thought Diversity”; we need people to change their mind-set. - Ratna Mehta, Wadhwani Foundation

Gender stereotyping is not a women’s issue, it’s everyone’s issue. Men want to be part of the change and we should extend the hand of a partner. - Nishtha Satyam, UN Women

When one woman helps another, amazing things can happen, and professional careers can leap forward. – Gargi Dasgupta, IBM

YourStory has also published the pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups’ as a creative and motivational guide for innovators (downloadable as apps here: Apple, Android).

Edited by Anju Narayanan