Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday emphasised that the ecosystem in India for start-ups is very conducive and there would be a special drive to push women entrepreneurship skills and nurture mentorship for boosting economic growth. Inaugurating the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) 2017, Modi said women empowerment was vital to the development of the country. The summit is being held in South Asia for the first time. It brings together leading investors, entrepreneurs, academics, thinktanks and other stakeholders to propel the global entrepreneurship ecosystem. “This event not only connects the Silicon Valley with Hyderabad but also showcases the close ties between the US and India. It underlines our shared commitment towards encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation,” Modi said. The topics picked for this year’s summit include healthcare and life sciences; digital economy and financial technology; energy and infrastructure; and media and entertainment. These are all important issues, relevant to the well-being and prosperity of mankind. The theme, ‘Women First, Prosperity for All’, makes this edition of GES stand out. India has improved its rank from 54 in 2014 to 35 in 2016 on the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index. This signifies the relative ease and efficiency with which products can be moved into and from a country. An investment-friendly environment needs to be stable from the macro-economic perspective.
“We have succeeded in containing the fiscal and current account deficits and curbing inflation. Our foreign exchange reserves have crossed $400 billion, and we continue to attract large foreign capital flows,” he said. Ivanka Trump, daughter and adviser to President Donald Trump, echoed Modi’s sentiment. “This is the first time India has hosted the GES. It is a symbol of the strengthened friendship between our two peoples and the growing economic and security partnership between our two nations. As President Trump said earlier this year: India has a true friend in the White House,” she said. And when it comes to equitable laws, while many developed and developing countries have made tremendous strides, there is still much work to be done. “If India closes the labour-force gender gap by half, your economy could grow by over $150 billion in the next three years,” Ivanka said.
Globally, between 2014 and 2016, entrepreneurship activity among women increased by 10%, she said. In the US, within the last decade, the number of women-owned firms has grown by 45%. Even more promising, minority women have started nearly 8 in 10 new women-owned businesses. Today, more than 11 million women in the US own businesses. They employ nearly 9 million workers and generate over $1 trillion in revenue. “Fueling the growth of women-led businesses isn’t simply good for our society — it’s good for our economy. One study estimates that closing the gender entrepreneurship gap worldwide could grow our global GDP by as much as 2%,” Ivanka Trump said.
Yet, despite the soaring rate of female entrepreneurs, women still face steep obstacles. In developing countries, 70% of women-owned small and medium-sized businesses are denied access to capital. The result has been a nearly $300-billion annual credit deficit for women entrepreneurs in the developing world. In the US, a Harvard Business Review report found that investors ask men questions about their potential for gains whereas they ask women questions about their potential for loss. This could in part explain why women entrepreneurs received less than 3% of venture capital funding in 2016. “We are working to reverse this trend. The US Small Business Administration, for example, increased its lending to women by over $500 million this year alone,” Ivanka said.