Women entrepreneurship in India

Women are venturing into new areas to explore their talent and these women are from all walks of life and from all parts of the country. Women have tackled challenges tirelessly to succeed in their career and they are no longer confined to conventional roles.

Women entrepreneurs like Falguni Nayar who founded Nykaa or Richa Kar of Zivame have shown how challenges exist only to be overcome and are not something to run away from.

We often hear people say, Indian women are finally “getting there”, while this statement is not true to all Indian women yet. Support and approval of husbands seem a necessary condition for women’s entry into the business.

Stats about Women Entrepreneurship in India

  • Women constitute 48.9% Indians
  • Of all directors of startups 35% are women
  • Women constitute 14% of total entrepreneurs in India
  • About 58% women entrepreneurs started their business between ages of 20 and 30
  • About 25% women started their business before turning 25
  • About 73% women entrepreneurs report revenue of under Rs.10,00,000 in a financial year
  • Indian women-owned businesses provide employment for 13.45 million people.
  • 30% of India’s tech workforce is female. Although, 51% of entry-level jobs in India’s IT and BPM industries are women, indicating that women are leaving at junior and mid-levels.
  • Top 5 Indian cities with women entrepreneurs: Bangalore, Delhi-NCR, Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderabad

Growth and Development of Women Entrepreneurship in India

Growth of Women entrepreneurship of India

In traditional societies, they were restricted to four walls of houses performing household activities and were treated as weak and dependent on men. It was due to low literacy rate (40%), low work participation rate (28%) and low urban population share (10%) of women as compared to 60%, 52%, and 18% respectively of their male counterparts.

In 1988-89, women entrepreneurs in India were 9.01% of the total 1.70 million entrepreneurs in India.

For women there were 3Ks- Kitchen, Kids and Knitting then came 3ps – powder, papad and pickles. Now they are replaced by 4Ps, they are Electricity, Electronic, Energy and Engineering. Women had undergone a long way and came out of the four walls to participate in all spheres and become increasingly visible in business and other economical activities.

They have started plunging into industry and running their enterprises successfully.

The Government of India, in recent Industrial policy suggested for conducting special women entrepreneurship development programs and courses to encourage women to start small scale industries.

Constrains faced by Women Entrepreneurs in India

Irrespective of the gender, starting a business is a difficult prospect. Key challenges for startups in India include generating funds, limited understanding of customers, penetrating the market, hiring qualified employees, and the complex regulatory environment.

  • Confidence in business skills

“Business is not a women’s world” is a stereotype and people believe that men are more competent for their financial matters. With such attitude in the society, women entrepreneurs are often treated with less respect and they sense doubt when interacting with business partners.

  • Safety in work and public spaces

Safety at the workspace and travel between the home and office is an issue in India. Delhi, which is considered one of India’s four global startup cities, has poor safety measures and high sexual crime rate

  • Access to finance

Women entrepreneurs lack property in their own name and hence banks and financial institutions may hesitate to render finance.

  • Networks and relationships

Masculine corporate cultures are one of the most-cited barriers to women’s leadership.

  • Socio-Cultural Barriers

In India, a woman mainly must look after the members of the family. Man plays a secondary role only. In the case of married women, she should balance between her business and family. In fact, many Indian women often feel it’s their responsibility and spend much more time than men on house care and other unpaid activities.

  • Child care

When women entrepreneurs become mothers, they encounter further difficulties of wanting help and live with or close to the grandparents, who can look after the kids. However, those who are less fortunate, struggle with a lack of options for child-care.

  • Male-Dominated Society

Male chauvinism is still the order of the day in India. The Constitution of India speaks of equality between sexes but, women are looked weak in all respects. This, in turn, serves as a barrier to women’s entry into the business.

Motivating factors for Women entrepreneurs

The role or importance of women entrepreneurs may be ascertained from the study of the functions they perform.

  • Recognition and respect: A woman entrepreneur is motivated by recognition in respect of admiration, regard and esteem. It also includes creativity, respect and happiness of other people
  • Interest/Profit: The real motivation for women entrepreneurs to create and sell popular products is probably not money, but the interest.
  • Opportunities: Challenges and opportunities for women are growing, as job seekers turn to job creation. They are growing as a designer, interior designers, exporters, publishing, clothing and always looking for new modes of economic participation. They have better access to local and foreign markets.
  • Multitask Oriented: Women are known for juggling many tasks at the same time and still producing excellent results.
  • Being Patient with the process to become successful.
  • Marketing themselves: Women are natural marketers. They are so passionate and enthusiastic about what they choose to do that they just do not stop talking about it.
  • Availability of day care centers for children
  • Women entrepreneurship is a great strategy to solve the problems of rural and urban poverty.
  • Self-motivation is the keyword.
  • Women companies are fast-growing economies in almost all countries. Skills, knowledge and adaptability of the economy led to a major reason for women in business.
  • Resourcefulness of Women: A lot of work-at-home mothers started businesses from their homes while taking care of their families. Few do it to generate income while looking after their families and others want to be financially productive with their time.

Top qualities of successful Women Entrepreneurs

  1. Women are Ambitious:

A successful woman entrepreneur is dreadfully strong-minded one, truly determined to achieve goals. With experiences, she is ready to grab opportunities, sets goal, possess clear vision, steps confidently forward and is ambitious to be successful.

  1. Women are Confident:

A successful woman entrepreneur usually loves what she does, she is confident in her ability.

  1. Women are open and willing to Learn:

She adapts herself to change in her business and thrives on new innovations.

  1. Women are Cost Conscious:

A successful woman entrepreneur prepares budget estimates and provides cost effective quality services to her clients. With minimized cost of operations, she is able to force her team to capitalize on profits and gather its benefits.

  1. Women values Cooperation and Allegiance:

A woman has the ability to work with everyone and is keen on maintaining associations and communicates evidently and efficiently. This helps her to negotiate even responsive issues without difficulty.

  1. Women can balance Home and Work:

A successful woman entrepreneur is good at balancing varied aspects of life. Her multitasking aptitude combined with support from spouse and relatives enables her to bring together business priorities with domestic responsibilities competently and efficiently.

States with Startup Policies for Women

(Source: Start up india)

Andaman and Nicobar islands 

The monthly allowance for startups with Women as Founder/Co-Founder shall be INR 20,000 per month for a period of 1 year.

Andhra Pradesh

  • Startups with women entrepreneurs will be provided 100% reimbursement for the exhibition stall rental cost for participating in the notified national/international exhibitions limited to 9 sq.m. of space.
  • All Universities in Andhra Pradesh may give 5% grace marks and 20% attendance every semester for student startup teams, which have at least one woman as a cofounder.


Special one-time incentive of Rs. 5,000 per woman candidate hired subject to an upper limit of Rs. 1 lakh per startup for a period of 3 years.


Women Entrepreneurs will avail 5% additional grant/exemption/subsidy other than the limit fixed under the clauses of the policy.

Jammu & Kashmir

Monthly Allowance of Rs. 12,000 (for a period of one year) shall be paid to the Start-ups subject to the approval of Start-up Task Force and if it fulfils any of the following conditions:

  • If startup is founded by Women
  • If at least 25% of the shareholding is held by Women
  • If the Women are the single largest shareholder in the Start-up

In case of the Start-ups falling under following categories the assistance for R&D/marketing/publicity shall be up to Rs. 12 lakh:-

  • If startup is founded by Women
  • If at least 25% of the shareholding is held by Women
  • If the Women are the single largest shareholder in the Start-up


  • Assistance at Idea / Prototype stage: The monthly allowance shall be Rs.22,000/-, if the startup Founder is Women. In such a case, Woman should have at least 50% equity in the startup entity
  • Assistance once the idea / Concept gets commercialized: The monthly allowance shall be Rs.22,000/-, if the startup Founder is Women. In such a case, Woman should have at least 50% equity in the startup entity


Upon approval from Start-up Council, if the Startup is being operated by women entrepreneurs in any of the focus sectors or belongs to Category-A district of Uttarakhand MSME Policy 2015, the marketing assistance allowance will be Rs 7.5 lakhs. This assistance will be provided only once to the Start-Up.

Women Entrepreneurs Associations in India

  1. Women entrepreneurs’ wing of National Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs (NAYE).
  2. Consortium of women entrepreneurs of India.
  3. Indian council of Women Entrepreneurs
  4. Self Employment women’s Association (SEWA), Ahmadabad.
  5. Associations of women Entrepreneurs of Karnataka.
  6. Association of Lady Entrepreneurs of Andhra Pradesh (ALEAP).
  7. Women Entrepreneurs Association of Maharashtra. (WIMA)
  8. Federation of Indian Women Entrepreneurs (FIWE)
  9. The Trade Related Entrepreneurship Assistance and Development (TREAD)
  10. Other Schemes:
  • Indian Mahila Kendra
  • IDBI scheme of Training and Extension Service for Women Entrepreneurs
  • Self-Help Groups (SHGs)
  • Mahila Udyog Nidhi (MUN)
  • Bank of India’s Priyadarshini Yojana
  • Swarna Jayanthi Gram Swarojar Yojana
  • Rashtriya Mahila Kosha
  • Mahila Samiti Yojana
  • Mahila Vikasnidhi
  • Indira Mahila Yojana
  • Working Women’s Forum
  • Women’s Development Corporations
  • Marketing of Non-Farm Products of Rural Women
  • Assistance to Rural Women in Non-Farm Development Schemes
  • Prime Minister’s Rozgar Yojana (PMRY)
  • Self-Employment Programme for Urban Poor (SEPUP)
  • Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP)

According to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, “When women moves forward, the family moves, the village moves, and the nation moves.”

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11 thoughts on “Women Entrepreneurship in India”

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