The role of the woman worker in India’s growth story has largely been ignored, underplayed and unrewarded. The World Bank estimates that 75 percent of working-age women, which is 35 percent of India’s working-age population, currently do not have paid work.
Only 59 percent of women have access to mobile phones and only 35 percent of women actively use their bank accounts, further limiting their opportunities. Women represent 42 percent of the agricultural labour force in India, but they own only 2 percent of farmland.
While there are plenty of barriers, unlocking entrepreneurship among women is a vital component of the overall solution. An women entrepreneur will not only boost the economy through job creation, but also deliver transformational, social and personal outcomes.
According to a report published by Google and Bain, India has more women-owned enterprises than many other countries, with an estimated 13.5 million to 15.7 million involved in MSMEs and agri-businesses. However, while women-owned enterprises are growing, India still faces a large gap compared to peers.
In addition, women-owned enterprises in India are largely single-person enterprises. This translates to lower returns and employment. Only 17 percent of all women-owned enterprises employ hired workers versus 28 percent for all enterprises.
In fact, the study found that true entrepreneurship among women is over-represented in numbers. To provide economic independence to women, enterprises need to be owned, controlled or run by women.
So what needs to be done to unlock female entrepreneurship potential in India? To create a level playing field for the high-impact, job-creating entrepreneurs? To enable business owners to scale and become high-impact entrepreneurs and to encourage more women to start their own enterprises?
CNBC-TV18’s Shereen Bhan talks to entrepreneurs who are working to create valuable and scalable enterprises powered by women.