[This article was originally published on BWDisrupt]
Start-ups are still considered a man’s territory. The challenge for women to make inroads into what is thought of as a predominantly male domain is huge. However, as many pioneering startups have shown, there are many opportunities hidden in this challenge, and if you tap the right opportunities, they will yield phenomenal dividends.
To start with, the current scenario is encouraging. There is this huge trend in favour of entrepreneurs and startups. India is home to more than 4000 startups and ranks third in terms of number of businesses started. Funding has been more forthcoming, and the number of incubators and supportive ecosystems has grown dramatically. Simultaneously, the corporate world is also changing and has started to accept that women entrepreneurs are a confident, knowledgeable, passionate bunch with the abilities to run a business. Coupled with the freedom – intellectual, creative, and personal – of running your own enterprise, it is not surprising that more and more women are turning entrepreneurs or that women leaders are the fastest growing segment of the self-employed entrepreneurs.
Some time back, Nasscom and Google launched a series of events including hackathons for women entrepreneurs. IIM Bangalore and IIM Udaipur among others have programs aimed at promoting entrepreneurship among women. There are various financial training and mentoring programs that help women entrepreneurs in writing business plans and seeking funds from banks and VCs. The media has also had a very prominent role in generating awareness. Through their awards and events, they have provided entrepreneurs a platform to showcase their ideas. This has improved the visibility of these organisations especially among foreign investors and VCs such as Sequoia Capital and Amazon. All these factors together act as an ecosystem for investors to meet women entrepreneurs who bring a different experience and unique ideas to the table. This type of a support ecosystem, coupled with increased access to bank accounts and enhanced awareness about gender diversity across sectors, fuels hope for continued and improved engagement of women in startups.
For that and many more such reasons, there is change in the way women are taking to entrepreneurship and exercising their ability to convert challenges into opportunities. Sometimes the steps are smaller and extra-careful; some days the risks are left for another day; but at other times, very little can stop them, and that is all a part of doing business.
A decade ago, the trend was to get a job – a safer option – but younger women entrepreneurs these days are ready to take risk. Back then, when success came our way, successful women entrepreneurs were considered as the exceptions. Today, happily, successful women entrepreneurs are becoming more of a norm. And as more and more women-owned start-ups become successful, the industry is evolving a unique ecosystem where we read about each other, we learn from each other, and we are encouraged by each other. Women with dreams of founding start-ups will, henceforth, have more success stories to read. This opportunity we have seized today will form the basis to realize the dreams of many more women in the days to come.
Additional reading: Start up India Stand up India