The invisible woman entrepreneur

25 January 2014 | by The Petticoat Journal | NEW DELHI

When was the last time you came across a woman who told you that she was totally bogged down because she had to look after home and office at the same time and with equal alacrity? Chances are you would not remember. That’s because women hardly crib about it!

 

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s 2013 Report released this Tuesday, says that women entrepreneurs are more satisfied with their work-life balance than men. This makes for an inspiring picture for a world which has 126 million women entrepreneurs. But Zankhana Kaur, director, TiE Stree Shakti, begs to differ.

 

Zankhana says, “Women entrepreneurs have grown in number over the past few years. But the woman entrepreneur is ‘invisible’ as she is not forthcoming to build networks in order to grow her business. Women use measured resources like the existing circle of friends and acquaintances to market their ventures. This is due to lack of awareness and also due to time challenges. Women have to multi-task in a bid to keep the work-life balance intact.”

 

So while women are keen to start businesses, the passion fizzles out somewhere down the line.

woman entrepreneur

Gurpreet Siddhu, founder-director of People Tree, a design studio, says women are risk averse as compared to men. ‘There is some kind of fear about going there and making money. I have kept away from Venture Capitalists and bank loans. There was a fear of becoming answerable or maybe default. I wanted to run free!’ she says. But she feels money is important and agrees that starting a business is easy but it is really difficult to keep it going. Those who sail through, kudos to them!

 

India has only five per cent women entrepreneurs. This number would look easily ignorable in the first, second, third or even the umpteenth instance. But it’s heartening that it’s better than a few years back. Zankhana says ‘I see much more zeal among women to take up entrepreneurship these days,’ she says. But in the long run, other factors like, societal expectations to keep work-life balance intact, take over.
According to Dell’s gender-focused, global entrepreneurship index based on the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index (GEDI) 2013, in some countries, the business environment for success is right, but female entrepreneurship is still low. This is often due to social and cultural norms that make it less conducive for women to become entrepreneurs.

 

The GEM’s 2012 Women’s Report states “In most economies around the world, there are fewer women than men starting and running new businesses, but there are even fewer running mature ones. This raises a red flag about the ability of women to easily transition from starting to sustaining their businesses.”

 

The disparities in the number of men and women involved in starting, and owning and managing, new businesses are quite high in almost all economies. But in Sub-Saharan African economies, the number women entrepreneurs is the nearly the same as men entrepreneurs. This is largely attributed to the fact that women have mentors immediately available all around them. At least a few women are entrepreneurs in one woman’s circle of friends or relatives or neighbours.

 

The other economies, like India, where this connect is not there by default, should emphasise on mentorship programmes specifically for women. It should be taken care that the mentors at these programmes are strictly only women entrepreneurs, mostly self-made.

 

Illustration: The Shape of Silence by Heather Keith Freeman, pen and ink on vellum

 

 

  • Gargee Gupta

    I agree to the fact that there are really very few women enterpreneurs in proportion to men but let us also consider the truth that women have learnt to step in so called “men’s world”, firmly,recently. By and large many women were satisfied or forced into their roles of just a housekeeper and not considered as housemanagers.To evolve will take time ……..she has been gifted with an ocean of talents and know’s how to juggle many tasks with equal perfection.The world had always known this fact and that’s why they kept her in veil from the fear of her conquering their territories but now with education and liberal thinking she has been accepted in various male dominated fields too.The social scenario is changing and I won’t be surprised to see many women CEO’s leading, guiding and making difference in professional as well as social set up. Patiently wait and watch the magic of that extra ‘X’ and ‘WO’ + ‘MAN’ .

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