Encouraging women entrepreneurs to increase their participation in the Indian economy

Encouraging women India has traditionally been a patriarchal society with low participation of women in the economy. But the fact remains that women represent nearly 50 percent of the total population, and it is crucial to encourage women’s role in the economy at every level. At present women’s entrepreneurial role is limited in the large scale industries and technology based businesses. But even in small scale industries, the women’s participation is very low. As per the third all-India census of Small Scale Industries, only 10.11% of the micro and small enterprises were owned by women, and only 9.46% of them were managed by women. (1)

The following are three key strategies that can help to foster women entrepreneurship in India: (2)

Promoting women entrepreneurs in micro enterprises

An increasingly large number of women in India are engaged in the informal economy and operating in the small scale sector, cottage industries, and micro enterprises. With proper governmental and societal support, these women can create sustainable, organized and growth-oriented enterprises with a vision.

Institutional and policy based support

Government policies and regulations regarding business and industry can be formulated with the intent to encourage women entrepreneurs. The first part of the approach must be to review the existing regulatory framework, and make necessary modifications. The second part should be to take vital steps to reduce the administrative hurdles especially for women entrepreneurs. The third part must be to include easy and subsidized financing for women’s entrepreneurial projects.  

Directing women entrepreneurs into high growth areas

Another key part of the strategy must be to facilitate the entry of women entrepreneurs into areas where high growth is expected. Special incentives, tax rebates, duty cuts and subsidized land and machinery can be provided to encourage women in emerging sectors. Special recognitions and award can be instituted for women participating in such targeted industries.

The government of India launched a scheme called “Trade Related Entrepreneurship Assistance and Development Scheme for Women” (TREAD) during the 11th five-year plan. This schemed envisioned economic empowerment of women through the development of their entrepreneurial skills in non-agricultural activities. (3)

Higher education incentives for women from rural regions, advanced training programs for development of management skills among women, and setting up of polytechnics and industrial institutes for women are the key thrust areas to strengthen the women’s entrepreneurial talent through education and training. Counselling in entrepreneurship through women oriented NGO’s, cheap micro financing and bank support for new business projects launched by women entrepreneurs, and privileged infrastructural support such as priority land allotment and administrative approvals can also promote the cause of women entrepreneurs substantially. (4)

Private sector can also contribute in its own way to women’s entrepreneurial participation in the economy. A leading example is the setting up of TiE Stree Shakti (TSS) with support from a premier group of NRI investors and Indian entrepreneurs in 2009. This organization is reaching out to women who run micro, medium, and large-scale enterprises across manufacturing, services and social sectors. It is a pan-India endeavour to recognize, award, and empower women entrepreneurs from different backgrounds. (5)

A lot still remains to be done to improve the participation of Indian women entrepreneurs in the economy, with an aim to come at par with the women’s participative role in the developed economies of the west. In the 21st century India where nuclear families are becoming popular, the dividing line between the roles of men and women is blurring. Women are equally keen to become active participants in the economy. Therefore, the role of women cannot remain confined to jobs, but they must also engage in employment generation and bring out their entrepreneurial talent. The women’s family and the society have a key responsibility to support this shift in the women’s economic profile.


- Vikas Vij (views expressed in the article are that of the author)


(1) http://www.dcmsme.gov.in/publications/women_schemes.pdf

(2) http://www.rbs.edu.in/delhi/articles/SPSinghWomen%20Entrepreneurs.doc

(3) http://www.dcmsme.gov.in/publications/women_schemes.pdf

(4) http://www.thisismyindia.com/writers_fourm/women-in-the-globalized-indian-economy.html

(5) http://indiamicrofinance.com/blog/business/business-opportunities/tie-launches-stree-shakti-tss-to-empower-women-entrepreneurs-across-india.html