Moneycontrol
Last Updated : Aug 19, 2016 12:09 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Women Entrepreneurship: Age is just a Number

There have been enough discussions and reports about the women in the corporate workforce especially from a perspective of expertise and skillset. It would be challenging to analyze and sum up the immense capabilities and potential women have displayed across sectors for several years.

There have been enough discussions and reports about the women in the corporate workforce especially from a perspective of expertise and skillset. It would be challenging to analyze and sum up the immense capabilities and potential women have displayed across sectors for several years. Many industry reports have validated the inherent abilities of women understanding the customer, their behavior, management & business acumen, and the intrinsic value they contribute towards building a diverse and culturally sound organization.

As we celebrate these capabilities, the statistics do not really support as much as we would like. In the overall workforce, India is one of the worst countries in the world — 113th out of 135 — when it comes to the gender gap. And, women entrepreneurs constitute only 10 percent of the total number of entrepreneurs in the country.

So what are the reasons why women hold back to take this risk of entrepreneurship and leadership? A very intriguing insight, which has been observed, is a strong motivator/ de-motivator for women to step forward is age. In today’s modern times too, compared to men, family and societal factors still push them back a couple of years when it comes to plunging into entrepreneurship. Nearly three-quarters of births are to women between the ages of twenty and thirty-four. Women face additional pressures due to parenthood that result in lower rates of entrepreneurship.

Research also has shown that women are significantly less likely to engage in entrepreneurship if they have a child under age two, while there is no statistical difference in entrepreneurial rates of male, with a child under age two. In India, the story is very different. There is no data to support the point of view. It was not surprising, apart from a list of few names of successful younger women who are setting stone for many, with a lot of us still thinking out there “What would be the right age to start on my own?”

Globally, around 30% of all US businesses are majority female owned. The number of women-owned businesses continues to grow at twice the rate of all US firms, and they are increasing in economic clout. Between 1991 and 1996, the number of self-employed women in Canada grew by 44% (compared to 20% for men). While in India, a recent ET report highlighted that only 14 per cent of business establishments in India are run by female entrepreneurs, according to the Sixth Economic Census by the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO).

There are 58.5 million businesses in India, of which 8.05 million are managed by women, employing over 13.48 million people, these enterprises range from corner shops to venture-funded startups, majorly self-funded.  In the overall scheme, it is an insignificant proportion.

If we start to discourage the thought of the age in our mind, we would be able to not only concretize our creative energy of the core idea/ product/ service, but also establish the resources and environment required to achieve our goals. With more women addressing their interest towards entrepreneurship, will also help towards customized programs and benefits from the government and the industry to promote women entrepreneurship across sectors and business offerings.

Global studies have highlighted that the impact women entrepreneur's have a more nuanced view of risk, identifying more strongly than men as financial risk takers, while remaining concerned about “fool-hardy risks.” Women display greater ambitions to become serial entrepreneurs than their male counterparts. More broadly, an increase in the number of women in business leadership positions is correlated with increased business returns and payout ratios.

With the recent announcement by the Modi government in India, who have allocated Rs. 200-crore budget, towards the empowerment of women as a first baby step, helps towards instigating the grey cells of the women across geographies and age groups in India, to start penning down their interest, and set the tone for various communities towards understanding the need for women entrepreneur's across age groups in India. As Mark Twain said ‘Age is an issue of Mind over Matter, If you don’t mind it doesn’t matter’
First Published on Aug 19, 2016 12:00 pm
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