Studies conducted around the world all show that when women participate in building the economy, they gain financial freedom and improve the overall economy of the country. This is due to women’s ability to cater to a different consumer base or niche than their male counterparts. Reports show that most businesses started by women have innovative concepts or cater to the needs of women. In developing countries, entrepreneurship has been a proven way for women to elevate themselves from poverty and gain financial autonomy.
In India, there are currently very few women entrepreneurs. As per the Sixth Economic Census that was released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation in the year 2018, women only account for 14% of all entrepreneurs. While there are women who have achieved success in their field, it is important to support women entrepreneurs who are struggling to make it big. In order to level the playing field, banks, government organisations and private companies have all started offering incentive programs to support woman entrepreneurs.
Schemes Offered By The Government
Acquiring funding is one of the key steps in setting up a project or business. The Government of India has set up a range of schemes to help women gain economic independence. Additionally, they have also begun offering funding programs for woman entrepreneurs.
- TREAD Scheme: The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) offer the Trade Related Entrepreneurship Assistance and Development scheme for women. The objective of the scheme is to help women achieve economic empowerment with the help of trade-related training, counselling sessions and economic support. Under the scheme, women can avail a government grant of up to 30% of the project cost while the remaining 70% is offered up as a loan.
- Mudra Yojana Scheme: Set up under the guidance of the Prime Minister, the Mudra Yojana Scheme For Women is aimed at women trying to set up small units of business. This includes beauty parlours, tailoring unit, etc. It offers benefits such as subsidised interest rates for women and loan options up to INR 50 lakhs. Loans are available under three categories Shishu, Kishor and Tarun that cater to new businesses, well-established enterprises and business expansion projects respectively.
- STEP Scheme: Set up by the Department of Women and Child Development (WCD), the Support to Training and Employment Programme for Women (STEP) Scheme works with the objective to train and support women who are working towards self-employment or entrepreneurship. It offers training in Agriculture, Horticulture, Food Processing, Handicrafts, Computer & IT enabled services and much more. Under this programme, the Government of India offers grants that can cover up to 90% of a project cost.
Schemes Offered By Banks
As the country and economy develop, more and more women are stepping out to begin their own ventures. However, women still make up a small percentage of entrepreneurs. In a bid to support women and jumpstart their entrepreneurial journey, banks have begun offering schemes that provide subsidies and lower interest rates for women-led organisations.
- Synd Mahila Shakthi: Offered by the Syndicate Bank, the SyndMahilaShakthi scheme aims to offer financial support that covers the capital requirements for existing or new units. It is targeted at new and existing businesses where women own at least 50% of the financial holding. Under the scheme, businesses can avail a loan amount of up to INR 5 crore with a maximum repayment period of 10 years.
- Stree Shakti Package: Offered by the SBI, the scheme is aimed at women enrolled under the Entrepreneurship Development Programmes (EDP) organised by the respective state agency. The bank offers loan schemes and concessions to enterprises where women have majority ownership in the business. Under this scheme, the interest rate is lowered by 0.5% for loans exceeding Rs.2 lakh with a concession on security for loans up to Rs.5 lakh.
- Bharatiya Mahila Bank Business Loan: The Bhartiya Mahila Bank offers loans specifically for manufacturing enterprises. Aimed at women, the scheme offers loans up to Rs.10 crore at a concessional interest rate. Additionally, under the Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises scheme, women entrepreneurs can avail loans up to Rs.1 crore without collateral.
Competitions For Women Entrepreneurs
Reports show that there is a significant pay gap between men and women in the corporate sector. However, companies in the technology sector have begun taking initiative to close the pay gap and promote women entrepreneurs.
- She Loves Tech: The Chinese initiative has partnered with Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) in 2019 for the first ever competition in India for women entrepreneurs from India and across the world. The annual competition is open for companies that develop technologies that positively impact women. Not only does this help promote companies and give them publicity, but the winner also receives funding for the company. The winner of the competition receives a cash award of USD 15,000.
- Women Entrepreneur Quest: Founded in the year 2011, Women Entrepreneur Quest is an annual contest that recognises and awards women entrepreneurs that have founded startups in the technology industry. Winners of the contest get cash prizes, networking opportunities and the chance to go on an all-paid educational trip. The competition promotes growth in companies led by women and offers a platform for them to showcase their brand.
- empoWer: Launched by Zone Startups India, empoWer is an initiative that aims to help women entrepreneurs scale up their businesses. The competition s targeted at women entrepreneurs working in the tech sector. Zone Startups India shortlists a group of startups and offers cash prizes, grants and training programs to help companies build their business. They also conduct networking events to promote women entrepreneurs and enable growth in the community.
In order for a country to truly develop, it is important to encourage women to participate in the economy. Although women account for 48% of the Indian population, they only account for 25% of the economic participation in the country.This highlights a huge gap in economic activity that could lead to national development if addressed properly. Only when women receive mentorship, financial backing and community support will they be able to achieve financial independence.