The Rise of the Boss Ladies in India

29 Jul 2021

The Indian economy is showing signs of revival and the Government’s vaccination drive has brought in a new level of confidence among people. However, even amidst the pandemic, a silent but strong movement in the country is making socio-economic waves, impacting growth and creating an enabling network of new age business leaders.

These leaders are supported by the central and state governments through their policy interventions; corporate sector through their initiatives and campaigns; and education institutes & skill centres through focused mentoring and through easy availability of finance, digitization and e-commerce.

The rising presence of women-led businesses is changing the dynamics of the economic and cultural ecosystem of the country as this new crop of wealth creators are generating more employment opportunities and inspiring others to venture into a space, which until now, had been largely dominated by men.

In the last two years, homegrown brands have developed a strong following. Focusing on makeup and jewellery, brands such as Falguni Nayar’s Nykaa, Sreesha Shetty’s Shop Lune, and Rubeina Karachiwalla’s Ruby’s Organics are setting a new pace for women consumers.

Food brands such as Suhasini Sampath and Anindita Sampath’s Yogabars, Snigdha Manchanda’s Tea Trunk, Malika Sadani’s The Moms Co, and Aditi Somani’s Country Bean have picked up steam. Upasana Taku’s Mobikwik, Richa Kar’s Zivame, and Shradha Sharma’s YourStory are some of the other brands that have a strong following in India.

In March this year, Amazon India decided to launch a special International Women’s Day (IWD) storefront with products from women-owned businesses. The initiative benefitted over 450 women-led businesses and over 280,000 women entrepreneurs and artisans from Amazon Saheli. It’s not just Amazon India; several Indian companies and international companies present in India are promoting the cause of women-led businesses through innovative programs, digital platforms and other services.

Under the Stand-Up India scheme to boost entrepreneurship among weaker sections of society launched in 2016, over 81% of the beneficiaries are women. Under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY), launched in 2015, about 68% i.e. 190 million accounts with an amount of INR 6.36 trillion have been sanctioned to women entrepreneurs through the MUDRA scheme for financial access since inception.

These women stride forward to make their future robust and successful and at the same time, create jobs and spur incomes. With new ideas and innovative business models, women entrepreneurs can meet the specific demands of women consumers as well as the larger population.  

To promote discussion around women entrepreneurship, CII organized a session on Women’s Economic Empowerment: Inclusive Prosperity during the Indo-Pacific Business Summit in partnership with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on 8 July.

Speaking at the session, Ms Smriti Irani, Minister of Women and Child Development, said that India now signals that we are moving from women’s development to women-led development. Women represent almost half the population in our country and have the capacity to drive and strengthen the economy and the Government of India is, therefore, committed to creating an inclusive society for them and ensuring adolescent girls have access to resources as well as opportunities, she said.  

Even though India’s overall average female business ownership is on the rise, compared to other countries, India still has a long way to go in terms of the number of women entrepreneurs. Appropriate policy changes as well as a shift in the mindset of people is required to balance this disparity.    

Specific initiatives to boost women’s participation in business must include the traditional entrepreneurship factors of skill development and training, access to credit, and ease of doing business. In addition, highlighting success stories and mentorship could help women entrepreneurs in particular, among other measures.

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