From sexism to lack of support, female entrepreneurs talk about their journey in business world

FPJ speaks to women entrepreneurs to understand the problems they face while starting their journeys in the business world

Sapna SarfareUpdated: Sunday, October 02, 2022, 05:51 PM IST
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Pic: Freepik

With the start-up sector booming in India, several Indian women are making inroads into the bastion. However, its not an easy ride for women entrepreneurs. There are challenges galore – from sexism to lack of support, they have to face it all and yet run the company.

Journey and struggles

For Ami Sata, the founder of Amouve, a female entrepreneur is just like her male counterpart – an entrepreneur. “I haven’t heard the term ‘Male CEO’. Things like effort, vision, and growth are gender neutral.”

Many women never understand terms like Mompreneur, boss lady, or She-E-O. These are anything but badges of pride and inhibit all hard-working women trying to consolidate their businesses.

“When people want to design a space, they cannot keep a tab on everything. I wanted to fill this gap and provide a trusted system for everyone who wants to get their space designed to their liking,” says Bhawana Bhatnagar, founder of Casa Exotique, a Gurugram-based interior design firm.

“ Initially, people were less receptive towards a woman in construction execution and design industry. But I realised that the only way I can make my mark and get acceptance in this market is through proof of work.”

For Sadaf Syed, founding Hands of Gold in 2015 began with a ‘casual pursuit for a customisable paper mache product’ and its non-availability in the market. “Initially, I did have moments of self-doubt. But with time and encouragement from my family and friends, I was able to move ahead and there has been no looking back since then.”

The initial self-doubt comes with delays due to knowledge gaps. At times, many consider the start-up as an expansion of a hobby. Thus, most women have to deal with much more than expected to consolidate their position as an entrepreneur.

Swathi Kulkarni, Co-Founder & CEO, Elda Health — one-stop digital health platform enabling women during menopausal and pre-menopausal years, believes that women are capable of handling multiple roles in society from early on. “I believe women leaders or founders bring with them this unique skill of empathy which go a long way in building businesses. However, the lack of family support or investor backing for women-founded companies could act as deterrents.”

Dealing with it

Bhawana feels that nothing can substitute diligence and hard work. “Challenges are a part of any aspiration one has in life. Being an entrepreneur, deciding to have a start-up of your own in itself comes with risks; one has to be prepared to tackle the obstacles to be able to sail through.”

Many overlook the need to prepare a comprehensive business plan and keep timelines for things. Business planning helps save time and effort, apart from giving direction to the journey. Having the right mentor can be the perfect thing to guide you down the start-up path.

Sadaf considers the issue related more to self-belief. “As an entrepreneur, you need to be confident of the journey you are about to start and not give up when there are setbacks. Another great way to begin and stay in the journey is to gain as much knowledge as possible.”

“Entrepreneurship or starting with something new is tough, no matter the gender. However, I’d say that as a woman your challenges are relatively different,” Ami mentions. “There’s often this remark stating, ‘Despite being a woman, you did it all on your own.’ I see an inherent problem with that statement and how people perceive that.”

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