We recently came across an article with some numbers related to women entrepreneurship and it left us shocked. It suggested that only 13% of small businesses in India are run by women. Mind you, there are approximately 6.3 crore micro, small and medium enterprises that operate in our country that contribute 30% to India's GDP and employ the most people after agriculture.
But, there are more shocks to follow. Activity rates among early stage entrepreneurship for the women business owners is way below that of men. And this And this rate actually fell from 79% to 62% during 2018 and 2019, in spite of the government's MSME push. Another figure that merits mention is that 98% of all women-led MSMEs are in the micro category, which means many of these could have either folded up or are facing major pandemic-led crises.
This is not all. A McKinsey Global Institute report says women entrepreneurs and employees were impacted more than their male counterparts by layoffs and business losses. Around 90% of women entrepreneurs reported a significant decline in sales revenues lockdown in 2020 and there is no reason to believe that things would be different now.
Though there is a lot of talk about encouraging women entrepreneurship that could witness the creation of between 15-17 crore additional jobs in the country, the fact remains that India ranks third among countries reporting gender gaps in business. Just one-third of early-stage business owners are women. What stops them from coming to the fore? For starters, most women have lower access to funds than their male colleagues. There is also the issue of their having less robust support networks caused by skewed social norms and restricted mobility.
Of course, this doesn't mean that the future is all bleak. Not when we have folks like Medarisha Lyngdoh making a difference to the community and not being a passive member. In fact, she agreed to as a founding member of the eSamudaay team because the platform offered her an opportunity to do just that. Being part of a matrilineal society in Meghalaya also meant that she was aware of the power of women in society.
In the early part of this journey, the team found that most of the campaigns that they ran to get LCommerce entrepreneurs turned up only men. "We received thousands of applications but none were from women. Which prompted the team to focus exclusively on women in order to encourage them to take up the challenge. In fact, eSamudaay is aware of the constraints that women have compared to their male counterparts and seeks to mitigate them with the right dose of mentorship, financial support as well as support networks around them.
With people in tier-3 and tier-4 cities losing out due to lack of digital tools and awareness, Meda and her team have set their sights on empowering women in these locations to take up digital entrepreneurship, which in turn would enable small businesses within the circle to get the digital edge and grow their enterprise.
Medarisha's dream is to ensure that women form half of all such entrepreneurs on our platform.