Women in the Startup World: Risking it Right

India may be the land of opportunity today and home to many startups and businesses, but gender disparity continues to be a hurdle. While India has many women entrepreneurs who have carved a niche for themselves in the startup world, there still exists an element of bias both in the corporate and startup world.

It is not merely a coincidence that only 21 of the total number of 670 startups funded in 2016 were run by women co-founders or solo woman entrepreneurs. Even startups with male and female co-founders managed to attract attracted only 14% of the total number of funding deals. These numbers underline the presence of two basic trends. One, the numbers of women entrepreneurs are significantly low as compared to their male counterparts. Second, many still believe women at some point in their career will give priority to family life over their work.

Breaking traditional stereotypes remains a challenge

An educational degree is treated with much respect in India. The Census 2011 figures revealed that the number of women getting post graduate degree in India increased by 116 percent in the last decade. While women are getting well paying jobs, the move to entrepreneurship is considered to be a risky affair and often discouraged by families.

The traditional stereotype of work being the solo responsibility of the husband has deterred many well educated Indian women to remain confined in their homes and families. In fact, a 2014 Grant Thornton report revealed that fewer Indian women were at senior corporate positions compared to other nations.

Tough balancing act, feel investors

The reluctance to take the risk of jumping into the entrepreneurship bandwagon is another aspect that remains a silent factor. Being an entrepreneur is a full time job. While a woman in a salaried job can give up her job to manage family affairs, the same is not possible in the startup world. The fear in the minds of investors that managing family and business can be risky affair also leads to lower investment inflows.

Success of the entrepreneurial Indian women

While the number of solo women founder startups may be low as compared to their male counterparts, Indian women have been able to weave many success stories across various sectors.

The examples of Anisha SIngh who started her career with the Clinton administration but came back to India to create Mydala.com, India’s largest coupon provider, or Garmila Saluja who created PoshVine, a community marketplace for travelers and adventure seekers are not isolated examples.

Radhika Ghai Aggarwal of ShopClues, an online shopping place, Upasana Taku of MobiKwik, Neeru Sharma of Infibeam—all are inspirational stories in their own right.

The role of women mentorship

Many female entrepreneurs have come together to form informal mentorship platforms to guide newer women who are facing the same dilemma as they had at some point in the past. Many networks like Indian Angel Network have been actively offering support and motivation to female aspirants, helping with funding and startup mentorship.
Gender disparity remains a truth in our world today including the world of entrepreneurship. It may be a while when gender may no longer play a role in building successful businesses but that is not deterring many a Indian woman to walk the path of entrepreneurship successfully.

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