Women entrepreneurship is an important source of economic growth for any country. Currently, India ranks low among countries with women entrepreneurs as it is ranked 49th among 54 economies globally. It also has comparatively low numbers in Women Business Ownership percentages. From heading management to adding value to an organization, women entrepreneurship creates employment not only for women but also for others. When women have productive, paying jobs either as employees or as business owners, it has a positive impact on their spouses as well as their children which reflect in overall higher human development indices.
Keeping this in mind, there are a few initiatives initiated by the government that encourage Women entrepreneurship:
- Co-working spaces for women –
An open and communicative work culture is synonymous with a co-working office space. Working in a coworking space gives women entrepreneurs and freelancers an advantage of working by themselves with access to all the resources available in a corporate. Co-working spaces provide their clients with infrastructure like printers, the internet, office booths, conference rooms for meetings etc. all of which facilitates efficient functioning of a small business thereby reducing the investment on self-owned office space. Apart from this, it also gives them an opportunity to collaborate with other like-minded freelancers and entrepreneurs and brainstorm about their ventures together. All of this without actually having to shell out large sums of money for an office space. Additionally, Co-working spaces conduct events which can be very educative as well as a great networking tool for new entrepreneurs.
- Stand-up India Scheme for Women, 2016-
The Stand-up India scheme for women was launched on 5th April 2016. It aimed at promoting entrepreneurship amongst SC/STs and Women by giving out loans within the range of 10lakhs to 100 lakhs.
Broad features of the scheme include-
- Giving out composite loans to meet the requirements of assets like plants and machinery etc for setting up a business as well as including working capital loans. These loans are granted within the range of Rs. 10 lakh upto Rs. 1 Crore.
- A Debit card (Rupay) for the withdrawal of working capital including equipment financing can be issued.
- Development of credit history of the borrower through a set of questions categorizing them as: i) Ready borrower ii) Trainee borrower.
- A ready borrower will require no hand-holding support and post registration on the portal, his loan application number with the selected bank and his information will be shared with the bank, a lead district manager as well as with the offices of SIDBI and NABARD.
- A trainee borrower would be provided with handholding support by educating them regarding the loan process as well as other business skills.
- A Refinancing window through Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) with an initial amount of Rs.10,000 crore is facilitated under this scheme.
- Creation of a corpus of Rs.5,000 crore for credit guarantee through National Credit Guarantee Trustee Company(NCGTC).
- An interactive web portal was designed for online registration and support services aimed at educating borrowers about entities providing handholding support to them. Some of these services include: Pre-loan training, Facilitating loan-processing, Factoring, Marketing, Bill discounting, Margin money, Technical/Financial Skill training, E-com registration, Raw material sourcing and Registration for taxation.
- MUDRA Funds –
MUDRA(Micro Unit Development and Refinance Agencies) was launched to promote and fund microfinance institutions, which in turn would provide loans to small businesses.
Through the initiative, the government was able to disburse money to the underprivileged and it claimed that 70% of the beneficiaries were women entrepreneurs. This scheme has three options for the beneficiaries-
- Shishu (Loans upto Rs. 50,000)
- Kishore (Loans up to Rs. 50,000-5 lakhs)
- Tarun (Loans up to Rs. 10 lakhs)
This implies that wide range of entrepreneurs can be benefited from the scheme. From women who need small business loans, quick business loans, equipment financing, collateral free loan or a working capital loan to those in need of larger sums of money upto 10 lakhs can be furnished.
- Mahila E-haat
Mahila E-haat is an initiative launched to meet the needs and aspirations of women entrepreneurs. It consists pf a Web-based marketing platform created for women artisans across India to directly sell their product to their buyers. It is a unique E-Commerce Platform that leverages technology for showcasing products that are manufactured and sold by women entrepreneurs across the country. It will help artisans showcase their talents and have a platform to sell with a pan-India reach. It is a unique initiative for the socio-economic empowerment of women. This empowerment of women will take place in three stages in which Mahila E-Haat is the first stage. In the second stage, it is planned to integrate it with e-commerce portals to provide a larger platform for selling and buying. Ultimately it will culminate into Women’s Entrepreneurs Council which will help to expand this initiative further and give it an institutional shape.
- Online Lending platforms
Apart from the government initiatives, online lending platforms are also trying to minimize the struggles of SMEs and Women entrepreneurs by providing adequate and flexible collateral free loans. They aim at providing Quick Business Loans at a fast pace with transparent finance charges to empower SMEs and women entrepreneurs to grow their business. One such eg. is Neerja from Agra, an E-commerce vendor who reached out to FlexiLoans for a loan. Their easy and efficient technology enabled her to have access to funds within 48 hours thereby helping her business grow at a faster pace.
Thus these are some of the initiatives in our country for empowering women to take on their businesses and become an aggressive growth partner in India’s economic story.