What lies ahead for women entrepreneurs in India? | The Financial Express

What lies ahead for women entrepreneurs in India?

While both investors and entrepreneurs believe dealmaking this year will continue at a slower pace to the benefit of both investors and companies, they also state that some of the most exciting opportunities are with women-led companies.

What lies ahead for women entrepreneurs in India?
While both investors and entrepreneurs believe dealmaking this year will continue at a slower pace to the benefit of both investors and companies, they also state that some of the most exciting opportunities are with women-led companies.

At the start of 2022, venture investors in India predicted that dealmaking would slow from the previous year’s record, but few could have anticipated the extent of the downturn that eventually materialised.

The Indian VC market closed December on a decidedly less optimistic note than in previous years, with ongoing uncertainty over how long current market conditions will persist and what the full impact on startups will be.

While both investors and entrepreneurs believe dealmaking this year will continue at a slower pace to the benefit of both investors and companies, they also state that some of the most exciting opportunities are with women-led companies.

A primary reason for this is because female-founded companies still today receive significantly less funding than male-led startups, and that is why these companies learn to be cash efficient – a skill set many more startups need this year. 

In recent years, there has been a surge in the number of women entrepreneurs in India. According to a report by NASSCOM, the percentage of women-led startups in India has increased from 8 per cent in 2014 to 13 per cent in 2019.

Also, according to IBEF  some of the compelling reasons to invest in women-run businesses are higher return potential and high risk appetite. As per a survey taken by KPMG, 43% of women are willing to take more risks.

We reached out to entrepreneurs and investors to see what they expect for the year ahead. Here are the key takeaways. 

Shauraya Bhutani, Co-Founder of Capital Connect Advisors and Founder and Partner at Breathe Capital

All things being equal, female founder-led start-ups have a demonstrable competitive advantage. It’s just not subjective debate anymore as multiple evidence-based studies have proven this – a study of 350 start-ups conducted by BCG, businesses founded by women yielded higher revenue—more than two times as much per dollar invested—than those founded by men. These start-ups also have a more inclusive work culture and employ 3x more women compared to men-led start-ups.

The smart venture capital firms are taking notice of the data and not only looking to back more female founders but also increase women representation on their teams – this will eventually lead to more women entrepreneurs raising funds in 2023 and beyond.

Closer to home – India witnessed the most women-led start-ups turning into unicorns in 2021. In addition, the Indian government has increased the budget for Women and Child Development by 14% in 2021 – setting aside over Rs. 30,000 crores in FY21, we are hoping a certain portion of it enables women to start their entrepreneurial journey.

This drastic transformation underlines the potential of Indian women and their determination. In the coming decades, India is set to witness a major shift, with women dominating the workforce as well as shaping and enhancing the future of the country. It is estimated that over 30 million more women-owned businesses are expected to provide 150–170 million jobs by 2030. This could be a game changer and help the economic outlook look brighter than ever.

Divya Gokulnath, Co-Founder, BYJU’S

I’ve always believed that entrepreneurs must be defined by the courage of their conviction and not gender. We can only build an equitable future when we remove the prefixes of men and women, and focus on building leaders.

Having said that, 2022 was a landmark year. We saw a continued rise of women shattering barriers across spectrums — in Droupadi Murmu India saw its first tribal woman president, the success of Falguni Nayak-led Nykaa’s IPO has paved the way for more women-led businesses to come to the fore, Madhabi Buch is scripting history as the first woman chairperson of SEBI, and there could not have been a better end to 2022 than Savita Punia and Co. lifting the FIH Hockey Women’s Nations Cup in Spain. These icons have overcome layers of generational biases to keep us hopeful for the future. 

In 2023, I look forward to many more such defining wins for women everywhere.

I envision women not waiting to get a seat at the table but building their own tables, of the world removing its gender-tinted glasses, and each one of us making incremental changes that will last for decades. I see women entrepreneurs leverage technology to accelerate their personal evolution and push the boundaries of what they consider possible.

This year, we can expect more representation not just on paper but in tangible and impact-generating spaces. With investors and policymakers paving the way for more women to take up entrepreneurship, the future of women-led businesses is ripe for disruption.

Even as macroeconomic challenges and funding winters may impede the ecosystem, it is the inherent conviction, passion, and resilient spirit of entrepreneurs that will help us emerge stronger on the other side. 

Aakanksha Bhargava, CEO, PM Relocations Pvt Ltd

The Indian economy has been hailed as one of the fastest-growing ones in the world over the last few years. This uptick in economic activity is the result of the labor of many talented business owners and entrepreneurs. The rise of India’s economy has also been greatly helped by female company owners and entrepreneurs.

By showcasing women’s empowerment in every industry—including technology, sports, lifestyle, entertainment, and business—we challenge preconceptions every single day. Women who are determined to prove their worth to the world will have a lot of opportunities in 2023. The number of women entrepreneurs has increased, which has had a good impact on India’s social and economic demographics. Women entrepreneurs must focus on acquiring the fundamental skills and abilities that will enable them to fully realize their rarity and spread the word about their distinctive influence.

Priyanka Kanwar, Co-Founder, Falcon

2023 will be a year of great challenge and great reward for entrepreneurs. The current economic reset presents a unique opportunity for women ounders in the tech industry to assess their strategies and prioritise solid business practices and innovative ideas over “growth at all costs” expansion. Those startups that tackle genuine problems will be the ones to experience the most growth, as the market becomes more discerning and we see less clutter and more meaningful progress.

Madhumita Agrawal, Co-Founder & CEO, Oben Electric

We are going through a very stirring phase in the country today where we are designing, building, and offering products and services in India, and for the rest of the world. What is more interesting to note is that at the forefront are women who are coming seemingly strong as entrepreneurs building billion-dollar businesses on their own, taking risks, raising investments despite daunting limitations.
In 2023, I strongly believe that such women will inspire more women to tread this path and take entrepreneurship and businesses to a whole new level.

Shaili Chopra, Founder, Gytree.com and SheThePeople.TV

To succeed, women entrepreneurs must solve for real world problems. As I see it, 2023 will see transformation in women’s health led by platforms that are solving for their biggest needs – from menstruation to menopause. And this will happen not just by offering products and services but a differentiated approach, handholding, building trust and personalising care. In our world ahead, it will be easy to build platforms led by tech, but the hardest parts will be growing communities of customers.

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First published on: 13-01-2023 at 16:57 IST
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