Pandemic opens doors for women-led startups, say entrepreneurs

Pandemic opens doors for women-led startups, say entrepreneurs

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Tuesday, March 08, 2022, 06:36 PM IST
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A few women entrepreneurs shared the challenges they faced and what they overcame in their journey. | Christina Morillo

In India, 45 percent of the startups are run by women, of which over 50,000 are recognised by the government. The country witnessed the most women-led start-ups turning into unicorns in 2021, according to India brand Equity Foundation (IBEF).

A few women entrepreneurs shared the challenges they faced and what they overcame in their journey.

Between 2019 and 2021, three million women actively seeking work each month. In 2021, only 2.57 million women actively sought work in metropolitan India, down from 3.87 million in 2019. The pandemic has further increased the gender imbalance in burnout culture. Concerned about their children's well-being as well as their own mental health, women face a dilemma.

According to a Deloitte global research, nearly seven out of ten women who experienced negative changes in their routine expected professional advancement to be hindered. Globally, women appear to pay more for professional interruptions than men. The picture for 2022 is improving as more companies express interest in hiring educated and skilled women who had to take time off for whatever reason. While no one ever challenged men's leadership qualities, increasing anecdotal evidence and research-based conclusions show that women are stronger leaders.

Ankita Sheth, Co-Founder, Vista Rooms-luxury rental homestay startup

The restaurant industry has shortage of women leaders, but the pandemic has changed that.The restaurant industry, where women represent half the workforce, ended 2020 with 2.5 million fewer jobs than pre-pandemic levels, according to the National Restaurant Association. But where does the sector stand when it comes to gender equality? Lack of work–life balance, familial issues, childcare and workplace harassment are the topmost challenges for working women worldwide.

"As a female entrepreneur, I have encountered little to no sexism. Investors no longer solely speak to male founders. And we continue to reach for the stars, as women have done before. It is true that many still endure the burden of the patriarchy, but I am confident that as more women - and men who support us - join the table, the end of this inequity is near. In the end, a country's human capital will never realise its full potential if half of its human capital is unable to contribute fully. More women in the workforce means more opportunities for women."

Ashna Gandhi, Co-Founder, Mellow Garden-casual dining restaurant

The government plays a big role in supporting women entrepreneurship. From loan disbursement to legal processes to market linkages and public procurement, government agencies are the biggest provider and buyer with multiple touchpoints that can aid the advancement of women in business, women said.

"While I am proud of what my experience has driven me off and my talent has got me, it is imperative i acknowledge that many hands has lifted me up. Truly successful women are generous. When they find a door, they hold it open for others. And when women lift each other up, incredible things happen!"

Devi Kondapi, CEO, MSRcosmos-digital transformation partner for global enterprises

"Every woman is a torchbearer to the next generation. She imparts knowledge, culture, traditions, values, and ethics to future generations. Being a mother, daughter, wife, leader, professional, house maker, she has the unique opportunity to mold and positively influence the people around her. This women's day, it's a call to all the beloved women to realize their inherent potential, to rise above limitations, to lead by example, and to transform the lives of many younger generations."

Reetu Jain, Co-Founder, On my Own Technology (OMOTEC), innovation and research lab

Womens day celebrates the passion, endurance and rational with which she executes every role. It is believed women entrepreneurs bring a very unique skill set of combining Intellectual Commitment with deep emotional quotient.

"This has helped me build OMOTEC passionately in the EdTech space where my students enjoy technical creativity simulated with scientific intelligence. It’s a well-known fact that men dominate the Technology and Engineering space, it has been a struggle to ensure that you are taken seriously and be able to invent, design, evaluate, develop, commercialize and excel in this male dominated tech world. Its taken 42 International & National awards, publish more than 30 research papers, with a patent granted product and a grant from BIRAC for getting recognized and people to take you seriously. Its the vision and courage to own an idea, and work towards positively impacting the society. The balance and perspective gained in all aspects of a women’s life makes it possible to run the business effectively".

Chetna Israni, Director and Co-Founder, Morning Star BrandCom-integrated communication consultancy

While NABARD says women are the best borrowers and least likely to default, recent data states that 79 percent of women owned enterprises are self-financed.

"Most urban women entrepreneurs I know have kept their risk low, become self-reliant and built business literally all on their own, sometimes with little or no family support. There are some government initiatives designed to empower women entrepreneurship like The Bhartiya Mahila Bank Business Loan can be availed by women or the Dena Shakti scheme amongst others. But, what's lacking is an ecosystem that fosters women entrepreneurship. From child care to something as basic as safe travel. While I am proud of where my talent has got me, it is imperative I acknowledge that many hands lifted me up. Personally, I don't think I would have made it without my very generous and unconditional support system."

Truly successful women are generous. When they find a door, they hold it open for others. And when women lift each other up, incredible things happen! As a woman entrepreneur, I have made a conscious choice to make our organization not just women-friendly but also create an exemplary safe space. For all those difficult days involving a sick child or an old parent or just plain PMS - we've had WFH and flexibility arrangements right since our inception said Israni.

Uttara Dwivedi, Co Founder and Creative Director- LivePixel Technologies

"It's no secret that we continue to live in a male-dominated society that limits women's mobility. I had to face many superiors who doubted my abilities solely due to my gender. However, all it took was determination and thick skin to disregard the naysayers and focus on creating work I was proud of, which automatically proved my capabilities and helped me create a place for myself in the industry".

Meenu Bhatia - Co-founder, Vmentor.ai, a Tech enabled human intervened mentorship organisation

"As women we are conditioned to believe that we should know it all and do it all ourselves. One of the first myths every women entrepreneur should break is this precise belief and learn to seek help. Be it from building right team to seeking help from mentors and family, building a right ecosystem is so crucial for every woman on her entrepreneurial path."

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