Women Entrepreneurs Expand Their Opportunities Through Digitization and Upskilling
India is in the midst of an entrepreneurial revolution. Talented women are key drivers of this revolution, embracing digital and technology to help them meet their potential. Successful women entrepreneurs can also help transform India’s economy and catalyze economic growth, job creation, and innovation in the country. According to a research report on women entrepreneurship, women-owned businesses could add 150-170 million jobs to India’s economy by 2030.
However, with limited resources and capacity constraints, women-owned small businesses are unable to fully leverage transformative modern technologies to meet their full potential, an issue that has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. According to the Government of India’s 2021-22 annual report on the MSME sector, only 20.37% of MSMEs in the country are currently led by women entrepreneurs. To increase the participation of women in founding their own ventures, central and the state governments have launched several schemes and programs designed to assist them with credit, technology, infrastructure, skill training and capacity development to help increase their market presence. These are good programs, and even more be done to realize the full potential of women entrepreneurs, including providing them with the right tools and support for a more rapid integration with domestic and international supply chains.
Our experience collaborating with women-led MSMEs through supplier development programs shows that women entrepreneurs who rapidly integrate digital technologies into all their business processes catalyze immense growth. We have consistently witnessed that the right support and training, including mentoring and advisory assistance, focused on generating scale through e-commerce, can transform women-owned MSMEs. The pandemic has shown that women-owned MSMEs have the capability, agility, and flexibility to navigate uncertain times and transform their businesses by leveraging digital technologies and eCommerce.
Online business models are particularly important for women entrepreneurs because they provide flexibility and national market access to MSMEs, not just in metros but also in tier 2 and 3 cities. The resulting growth can increase incomes, and encourages innovation and entrepreneurship, which helps to support the local and national economy. These successful women entrepreneurs then go on to become role models in their community, creating a virtuous cycle of even greater participation of women in the workforce, greater economic resilience, and a change in perspectives that inspires a new generation of women entrepreneurs.
As we think about collaborating with women entrepreneurs, it is important to pay attention to their unique needs and how they vary based on context. Women are more likely to begin their entrepreneurial journey from their homes, meaning that it is important to provide digitally enabled programs that empower and skill women entrepreneurs from the comfort of their homes and give them the confidence to scale their businesses.
Successfully creating the support systems needed by women entrepreneurs to upskill themselves and their workers creates a significant employment and growth opportunity for India. A study by EdelGive Foundation projects that businesses owned by women entrepreneurs in India are likely to witness up to 90% growth in the next five years. The collective impact of this growth, where small, home-operated businesses add just 2-3 additional employees, can have a major ripple effect across the economy. This will help create a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem and provide inspiration for other women to follow. By bringing together know-how and assets across sectors, we can collectively begin to scale solutions that work for them.
Women entrepreneurs are eager to lead India’s entrepreneurial revolution and are hungry for programs that provide them with the skills necessary to succeed in modern India. Now is the time to realize the aspirations of Indian women entrepreneurs to transform local communities and the Indian economy.
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