By Prerna M
Credit and Finance for MSMEs: Although upskilling programmes are available in plenty, access to them for women entrepreneurs is lopsided, said Neharika Vohra, Vice-Chancellor at Delhi Skill & Entrepreneurship University. “Access to skilling institutions which are safe and treat women as equal learners is not very high in India,” Vohra told FEAspire as she stressed how a number of unconscious biases end up playing against women, for instance, lack of access to capital to realise their full potential in business.
“Women do not have access to credit as easily as men do. Even if we look at data, women can access early credit, but to survive in the market, they don’t have access to credit easily,” she added.
According to the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the credit gap for the 15 million women-owned micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) is around Rs 12 lakh crores, with 90 per cent of such women entrepreneurs depending on informal sources of financing.
Vohra also called for eliminating biases such as representation bias and gender homophily faced by women entrepreneurs. “If the bankers are all men and if the marketers are all men, then a woman in most cases is ignored because of her gender.” Representation bias occurs when an individual believes that their own circumstances are representative of the greater world, ignoring other possibilities, it is representation bias. “What I see around me is what is real, while there are possibly many other possibilities that exist.”
Meanwhile, the number of women beneficiaries across different schemes by the government has increased significantly during FY22 from the pre-Covid period. According to the data shared by Minister of State for MSMEs Bhanu Pratap Singh Verma in Lok Sabha in July this year, the total women beneficiary count under the employment generation scheme Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) stood at 39,154 in FY22, up 43 per cent from 27,285 in FY21 and 58 per cent from 24,720 in FY20. Likewise, under the Entrepreneurship Skill Development Programme (ESDP), the number of women entrepreneurs supported increased to 24,734 in FY22 from 13,640 in FY21.