Dell on the rise of women entrepreneurs in India and how tech is helping them drive global economic growth | Exclusive | The Financial Express

Dell on the rise of women entrepreneurs in India and how tech is helping them drive global economic growth | Exclusive

“Technology is a key driver for up-and-coming cities for entrepreneurs.”

Digital transformation
Swati Mishra, Director, and GM, Small Businesses, at Dell Technologies India

Dell Technologies has announced the findings of its 2023 Women Entrepreneur Cities (WE Cities) Index. Being conducted since 2016, the report provides insights into the different needs of female entrepreneurs and the importance of creating a conducive operating and enabling environment. The research ranks cities based on the impact of market size, local policies, connectivity, technology support, availability of funding, and access to a skilled workforce. It showcases how technology connects all other aspects of the business environment (e.g., markets, capital, talent, and culture).

Delhi, Bengaluru, and Mumbai are featured among the top 50 in this list, indicating these cities provide a favourable business environment for women entrepreneurs. Delhi has shown significant improvement over its score in 2017 by offering a skilled workforce and cost benefits, making it a preferred city for women-led businesses. Mumbai is a new entrant to this list and Bengaluru is one of the top 10 cities in the world, which provides accessibility and inclusive policies.

In an exclusive interview with FE’s Saurabh Singh, Swati Mishra, Director, and GM, Small Businesses, at Dell Technologies India reveals some key insights into the findings and what that means for India’s burgeoning start-up ecosystem. Excerpts.

What are the objectives of the 2023 We Cities Index? What are the key highlights of the report?

WE Cities Index report is an annual report by Dell Technologies that measures the ability of cities to attract and support High-Potential Women Entrepreneurs (HPWE). It serves as a diagnostic tool for leaders and policymakers on how to foster the growth of women entrepreneurs backed by data-driven research and recommendations. The index features a total of 55 cities, with five new cities making it to the list this year. These five cities include Montpellier, Auckland, Wellington, Hamburg, and Mumbai. With Mumbai’s entry, it becomes the third Indian city to make it to the Index after Delhi and Bangalore. Of the 23 key areas scored for cities to support high-potential women entrepreneurs, all 55 cities scored above the median score in at least 2 areas, highlighting the competitiveness of this group of cities. These include pillars such as the cities’ operating environment scores such as market, talent, and capital alongside enabling environment scores such as culture and technology.

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In this year’s report, APAC (Asia, Pacific, and China) region has done particularly well. APAC has the greatest number of cities moving up in the rank with 12, followed by Europe with 9. In India, Delhi has topped the overall momentum and Bangalore now ranks amongst the Index’s top operating environments for markets – showcasing the country’s progress towards empowering women leaders. Overall, the data from the report shows some preliminary evidence that the pandemic may have helped disperse capital, talent and markets to more cities meaning it has tightened the correlation between talent and technology. Additionally, the report also concludes that technology is a key driver for up-and-coming cities for entrepreneurs.

How has India performed in the WE Cities Index 2023?

The performance of Indian cities has been noteworthy in this year’s WE Cities Index. Mumbai is a new entrant in the index; however, Delhi and Bangalore have made significant improvements to provide a favourable business environment for women entrepreneurs. Compared to the base year of 2017, Delhi has the highest momentum score globally, which means that Delhi has improved both relative to its history and others as well. Delhi benefits from the low cost of living, and increasing population which results in increased market size, and availability of educated and skilled workforce across genders. Finally, Delhi’s ambition to become the start-up destination for the world by 2030 in line with the recent Delhi Start-up policy also adds to the potential of the city.

Some potential areas of improvement for Delhi include increasing the labour force participation rate among women which stands at 16.1 percent and is significantly lower than many global cities. Without greater representation in the workforce, the barriers for women in Delhi seeking to start and scale a business will remain high.

Making its debut in the top ten cities that provide a beneficial operation environment, Bangalore has been recognized for its accessibility and inclusive policies for women entrepreneurs. Bangalore has been ranked higher than Paris and Washington D.C., making it a huge feat for India. The city also offers a large market size and affordable costs that can support women entrepreneurs. Both Bangalore and Delhi are also placed in the “Cities on the radar” category of progress, which is a list of 13 cities that have the potential to attract and host more women entrepreneurs.

Can you elaborate upon Dell’s role in helping women entrepreneurs scale up their businesses?

At Dell, entrepreneurship is part of our DNA and we aim to help people and organizations achieve more with the help of technology. There has been a rise in women entrepreneurs and the increasingly powerful role they play in driving global economic growth. Dell has been committed to building and supporting a network of women entrepreneurs that can foster growth. An enduring example of this is the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN). DWEN, established in 2009, is a community of women entrepreneurs which provides them with access to IT resources, funding, and expert knowledge to help them scale their businesses. We also work closely with small businesses in India to evaluate if certain investments can help reduce costs, solve business issues, and drive growth.

This community of like-minded women exchange ideas which encourage newer women entrepreneurs to venture into the space. The established ones also get an opportunity to explore the possibilities of expanding their business beyond borders and other barriers. Since 2009, DWEN has been committed to the mission of advancing women entrepreneurs’ businesses through the power of technology, community, and access to key resources. As a global network, DWEN supports more than 80,000 members. DWEN has also created entities such as the DWEN Dream Tech contest, DWEN Tech Hub, Empower Hour, Tech Talk series, and the WE Cities Index, among others, that play an important role in the ecosystem’s overall growth. Our innovative technology solutions and strategic guidance are designed to empower start-ups to scale up and foray into the new future, thereby making India the world’s largest start-up destination and accelerating the impact of women in the workforce.

How do you think technology has played a key driver for up-and-coming cities in this report?

Technology plays a significant role in enabling cities to provide a beneficial business environment for all including women entrepreneurs. The smart cities mission which was kicked off in India in 2015 acted as a catalyst for budding women entrepreneurs to kick off their business ideas with the availability of robust IT connectivity and digital platforms. India aims to improve the percentage of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) to 30% by 2030 and a strong IT-enabled infrastructure provides the flexibility these women need to be successful owing to the complexity of the role they play. A digital world also provides access to a larger marketplace which was traditionally limited to physical marketplaces.  

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The WE Cities Index reports that technology is directly correlated to talent, which has transformed massively due to remote workspaces. This is a transformational change since 2019 when the culture had the strongest relationship with talent. While cities from almost every region are represented in the top 10 cities for technology equality, it is interesting to see APAC has the most cities appearing in this list indicating the agility with which these cities have embraced digital transformation. These cities pose as perfect tech hubs for women entrepreneurs who want to scale their businesses by adopting technology and right IT framework for tapping newer markets.

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First published on: 27-01-2023 at 19:37 IST