Women have made strides in business across the world and India has been no different, as entrepreneurial culture has become a key part of India’s economy. Women have traditionally played a key part in the culture of microbusinesses making up 70% – however, when it comes to small to medium enterprises, it would appear that there is still much progress to be made. A 2015 national survey showed that only 14% of businesses in India were owned by female entrepreneurs. But whilst these factors may seem intimidating for someone starting out, they can also be one of your strongest drivers.
As a country, India has made great strides in how it does business and the fact that it has risen 23 places to 77th in World Bank’s ‘Doing Business’ report shows that the country is continuing to open its doors to business opportunities and entrepreneurship is very much at the heart of this. This has provided a platform for women too, who after centuries of oppression are now seeing a shift in the paradigm as they enter and have a huge impact on the economic landscape.
Traditionally, men have always been the focus of society in India. Even today, as the country’s reputation as one of the world’s fastest growing economies grows, the Indian government’s own economic survey reveals that there are 21 million “unwanted” girls in India, with many couples stating a preference for a son, due to old fashioned views. This has had a substantive impact on the status of women in India, and the population of the country as a whole, with statistics showing that there are an estimated 63 million less women than there should be. Women and girls are also disproportionately subject to disease and dropping out of education.
One of the things that has helped to level the playing field has been the rise of women in work and in business. Eschewing traditional roles in favour of jobs that put them squarely in Male-dominated space has helped create much progress for women in India, and the rise of start-ups and the female entrepreneur is the natural next step. The key thing to remember is that the act of entrepreneurship is empowering. As the statistic shows, enterprise in India is dominated by men – the very thought of starting a business and blazing a trail for women by increasing that percentage is empowering in itself. But it goes beyond that; working hard, knowing your strengths, brand strategy and surrounding yourself with a team that brings out the best in you never cease to be an inspiring experience.
Feeling empowered as an entrepreneur is also essential for success. Whether you run a marketing agency or management consulting firms, you can be sure that the success of your venture rests on your shoulders. As a woman of Indian origin and the leader of global communications and brand strategy specialist consultancy based in the UK, I am very aware of how many more obstacles there are for my counterparts in the marketing communication and business advertising sector in India. That’s why it is important as entrepreneurs to be grateful for the business you have started, have a healthy attitude to work and love what you do. There is nothing more empowering than the feeling of having created your own enterprise, and what’s more, others will be inspired by your business.
According to the National Sample Survey Organisation, many women-run business are small-scale with a sizeable 79% of them self-financed. This shows the current challenges facing women in the business world but what they offer to all industries is something empowering which cannot be beaten. With societal stigmas still remaining strong in various parts of India, there will still be many women are unaware of the ability they harbour and if they are to unleash this then they will be able to conquer all before them with their passion, drive and insight to things that many men do not have.
That is why it’s also important to network – working together with others to achieve common success through global business services. Especially in societies where female success in business is far from guaranteed, it is essential to build links and relationships with other women in the industry to help create personal development as well as to help the progression of women who are also at the beginning of their business careers. A good example of this in can be found in Project Everyone’s 2016 campaign #WhatIReallyReallyWant, headlined by the now iconic short film launched by brand strategy and marketing communication specialists Sterling Media. In addition to its positive message of empowerment through showcasing what women and girls “really really want” to the iconic Spice Girls song, the film itself saw women play an integral role at every level of production.
This shows not only what women can create when given the opportunity but also what we can achieve through working together. Through purposeful collaboration and business advertising, we can help women advance and unleash the limitless potential offered to economies the world over.
Another benefit of women entrepreneurs helping each other is the growth of shared knowledge, a powerful tool which will help take more Indian women to the next level of business success. Helping more women to access that knowledge will be pivotal in enabling and empowering female entrepreneurs to be successful and more dominant in any industry.
Above all, the ability to set your own goals and be as ambitious as you want is a hugely empowering part of being a female entrepreneur. This is particularly important for women entrepreneurs in India, where the past few decades have seen women break out from traditional gender roles. It also helps to put more Indian businesswomen in a position with the potential and possibility to inspire and make a real difference to the statistic that only 14% of businesses are owned by women entrepreneurs.
With a new generation growing up in a society that is not conditioning them with a stagnated thought process, they will be able to play a role in the burgeoning start-up industry within India and feel empowered through challenging the stereotypes and working towards their ambitions. The empowering effect of ambition goes beyond just entrepreneurship and can be seen in many women, who are competing in each and every sphere and space of life, to pursue a career or life choice they determine for themselves.
After all, there will be few things more empowering and inspiring for younger women across India than seeing an ambitious female entrepreneur who has been successful in her endeavour.
Miss Natasha Mudhar, Global CEO, Sterling Media, the global business and communications consultancy, bringing brands, individuals and companies closer to their purpose.