Women entrepreneurs experienced significant reduction in sales and revenues amid the COVID-19 lockdown, according to a survey report. The report also said that these entrepreneurs were looking to the government for support.
The Consortium of Indian Associations, a forum representing more than 30 associations in India — including the all-India level women trade bodies such as the Federation of Indian Women Entrepreneurs, All India Hair and Beauty Association, Consortium of Women Entrepreneurs of India and ITF-Industry and Trade Forum — said it had requested Mala Sarat Chandra, an expert with a passion for empowerment of women, to conduct a survey on the impact and make recommendations to the government.
The number of women-owned enterprises is about 12% of the total micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) in India, it said. One of the key findings of the survey was that many women-owned enterprises were in the informal sector and that they could not easily avail themselves of government- or public-assistance programmes. Transport restrictions had disrupted receipt of input material and delivery of products; women faced increased responsibility for domestic care, increased social pressures and limited family support, it said.
The report urged the government to bring access to finance for women entrepreneurs under priority sector lending and as also enable loans at concessional rates, grant tax holidays, create a mentor network and enable them to be a vendor to public sector units and government departments.
It also sought the creation of a separate industrial estate for them.
The survey was carried out during July and August 2020 in partnership with various trade associations and had engaged several student interns and a total of over 1,420 responses were received, the consortium said.