Women in Business: An open conversation on the landscape in India

In a recent panel discussion with YourStory’s Daily Dispatch powered by HSBC, Upasana Taku, Co-founder and COO, MobiKwik and Naiyya Saggi, Co-founder, Good Glamm Group, came together to discuss the strength and power of women entrepreneurs and what the future holds for them.
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The age of women entrepreneurship in India has arrived. With several instances of women heading successful and thriving companies, our country has shown strength in female entrepreneurship. However, the proportion of women-owned businesses is still not as desired. According to the Sixth Economic census, conducted in 2014, only about 14 percent of Indian women own or run businesses. Although there is bound to be a shift since then, there is still a huge gap that needs to be filled, and a host of challenges that women in business face on a daily basis.

To discuss the intricacies of being a woman in business in this day and age, Upasana Taku, Co-founder and COO, MobiKwik, and Naiyya Saggi, Co-founder, The Good Glamm Group, came together on an interesting panel discussion organised by YourStory.

There is something special about being a woman entrepreneur in today’s time, declares Naiyya, even as she admits there is room for improvement when it comes to the number of women entrepreneurs in the country. “Out of the 136 odd unicorns in India, only five to six are led by women founders so there’s a long way for us to go. But, overall we’re very optimistic for the future,” she says.

The times are changing, and it has become a little bit easier to be a woman founder, agrees Upasana. Nevertheless, she points to statistics that indicate female participation in the founder level is still quite low. “Things are getting streamlined but there are areas where we can all improve as communities, as leaders and as women,” she shares.

Speaking about the biases that women face, Naiyya says that as a first step, it is important to address and acknowledge the existence of biases, as many times women aren’t even aware about them. She adds that organisations need to make efforts to address unconscious biases in the form of workshops or by just simply being vocal about it. Additionally, creating safe spaces for women to address these biases when they come across it is important.

Upasana reveals that the inclusion percentage or the diversity percentage is much higher in women-led organisations as compared to the others. She feels more women should be shortlisted for different roles so that eventually they can be recruited. Apart from that, the stigma and biases attached to maternity period is something that needs to be done away with, she opines. She also mentions that more and more women should be brought into senior leadership roles.

Naiyya believes when there are women in senior roles, other women in the organisation can look up to them, and “there is no ceiling to their ambition”. She adds that the Good Glamm Group has a number of women in leadership roles.

Advising women in business, Naiyya says that the important thing is not to give up and be brave while demanding one’s worth. “Be brave, put yourself out there. The worst that can happen is you’ll fail. Big deal, you’ll come back,” she says.

Upasana signs off by saying that being confident is extremely important for women in business. She also adds that one should be ready to put in a lot of effort as clearly, “there is no overnight success”.

Edited by Anju Narayanan

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