Women in business: Lack of finance, family support deters entrepreneurial aspirations

‘State Government should introduce stipend system and scholarships to attract women to businesses’

March 07, 2022 11:43 pm | Updated 11:43 pm IST - Bengaluru

What comes in the way of a woman’s entrepreneurial aspirations? Apart from the lack of financial and moral support from the family, it is tough to convince parents or spouses about their entrepreneurial plans, as generally, no one is comfortable about the idea of the family income getting reduced, said Geetha Manjunath, a city-based health-tech entrepreneur. 

As we celebrate International Women’s Day on Tuesday, The Hindu spoke to women in business to find out why the road to entrepreneurship is still difficult today.

Manjunath, founder, CEO, NIRAMAI Health Analytix, an early stage, non-invasive, radiation-free AI-driven breast cancer screening solutions firm, added that it is not easy for women to foray into entrepreneurship, especially when parents want children to take up jobs after college education and husbands do not want their working wives to leave their jobs to start businesses.

“Women are restricted all the time mainly because there are financial constraints. If the government can give women entrepreneurs a stipend, it is more like a small salary, and also some kind of scholarships more women will come into the business,” she said.

Ms. Manjunath said the State Government’s Elevate 100 was a great programme to promote entrepreneurship in general, but the Government overall lacked focus on women entrepreneurship.

“The Government also should promote nano and micro-entrepreneurs by increasing the participation of women in the blue-collar economy. It involves identifying women-specific trades and promoting women-centric jobs on a platform where even rural women can access full-time or part-time jobs as per interest and capability,” she suggested.

‘Budget had nothing much for women entrepreneurs’

The State required a strong and viable women-centric industrial policy, said Yeshasvini Ramaswamy, a serial entrepreneur and CEO, Great Place to Work, India. “What we urgently need are not mere tick-in-the-box initiatives, but a strong and viable women-centric industrial policy for our State as the current policy does not have much prominence for Women Entrepreneurship Development,” she said.

According to her, the increasing presence of women entrepreneurs has led to the change in the demographic characteristics of business and economic growth of the country. Women-owned business enterprises are playing a prominent role in society inspiring others and generating more employment opportunities in the country.

“Many women entrepreneurs in Karnataka have started their businesses with new concepts. Amid COVID-19, I really thought the State Budget could have focused more on women entrepreneurs. Start-ups require a lot of handholding and mentorship,” Ms. Ramaswamy added.

The Budget saw Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai announce a direct loan of up to ₹10 lakh for women entrepreneurs and training for 300 women graduates from the SC/ST community.

“While there seem to be strong intentions to promote entrepreneurs in general, and that includes women too, the focus to promote women entrepreneurs and policies surrounding this remains much to be desired,” she opined.

Entrepreneurship should be encouraged from a young age

Bengaluru, no doubt, has a lot of stellar women who have broken glass ceilings. “But it would be great to see entrepreneurship encouraged from a young age, especially while girls are still in school,” said young entrepreneur Rhea Karuturi, co-founder and CTO of Hoovu Fresh, an omnichannel flower marketplace in the city.

The entire ecosystem — the family, the government, financial institutions and trade bodies — should work towards supporting women in businesses.

“There are still banks that won’t give loans to women (for example, for commercial vehicles) without a male family member to act as guarantor, and those are norms we need to change with the help of the government,” said Ms. Karuturi.

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