6 Problems Faced By Women Entrepreneurs In India While Starting A Business

Written by Peter Keszegh

India's business world is diverse and everchanging, it's where women are making big leaps forward yet face specific challenges that hold them back. It's important to not only recognize these obstacles but to deeply understand where they come from and how they affect women entrepreneurs.

In this article, I talk about the problems faced by women entrepreneurs in India's business sector and how they are overcoming these challenges to change India's norms.

Problems faced by women entrepreneurs in India

For a long time, women in India only worked in family businesses and were rarely given praise for it. By the late 20th century, they started to get up on their own feet and followed their entrepreneurial dreams.

A shift in perspective

In the 1990s and early 2000s, economic changes helped women in India enter different fields like retail and tech. They started breaking stereotypes and reached heights that no Indian women had ever reached before!

Stories of women starting successful businesses inspired others, leading to more women starting their own businesses. This changed the way Indians saw women in business.

With supportive government policies that we will go into later, the world is making more and more space for women entrepreneurs. More women are starting businesses, landing investments, and being recognized both in India and overseas.

Beyond traditional boundaries

Today, women entrepreneurs in India are not just making waves in traditional sectors but are also innovators in tech, e-commerce, and biotechnology. They're challenging norms, changing narratives, and paving the way for future women leaders in business.

As we look to the future, it's clear that the journey of women entrepreneurs in India is one of resilience and transformation. The progress made so far promises a more inclusive and dynamic entrepreneurial landscape in the years to come.

6 Problems Faced By Women Entrepreneurs In India While Starting A Business infographic

Problem 1: Societal stereotypes and gender bias

an indian woman on the phone discussing problems faced by women entrepreneurs

Despite big improvements, a majority of India's society still sees women entrepreneurs through an outdated lens, underestimating them. These box women into old stereotypes, adding extra challenges for women.

Additionally, gender bias is a real struggle for women, affecting everything from getting funds to just being taken seriously. This often leads to their businesses not getting enough recognition they deserve.

Women battling stereotypes and biases

Ankita Jain, a co-founder of GoPaisa, faced criticism in the tech world. Her ideas were often overlooked due to gender biases, and she was robbed of multiple opportunities. Despite this, she continued to challenge norms and persevered.

Sneha Choudhry, from ZoloStays, also dealt with similar challenges in a startup industry mainly filled by men. She stood her ground and proved her worth, demonstrating the strength needed for women to be recognized in such environments.

Breaking out of the mold

Despite stereotypes and biases, women are still making big impacts. In fact, each success story weakens old stereotypes and opens doors for more women to follow.

A successful woman in business starts a chain reaction, motivating others to join the entrepreneurial world. Together, their goal is to shift society's focus towards women's achievements rather than their gender.

Problem 2: Limited access to funding

a team of women discussing problems faced by women entrepreneurs

Getting money to start or grow a business is hard for anyone, but for women in India's business world, it seems like a giant hurdle. Even with the right skills, women entrepreneurs often struggle to get the funds they need.

The funding gap

There is a whopping $11.4 billion funding gap, according to Smile Foundation. This problem is caused by gender bias, with the investors less likely to trust women in starting businesses. This has caused women to struggle to find financial support.

Shockingly, in 2021, only 0.3% of India's venture capital went to women-led startups. It's more than just a problem for women entrepreneurs now, it's a missed opportunity for the economy. This is because women's businesses are known to bring in more revenue and open more jobs.

Real-life examples

Aditi Bhutia Madan, CEO of Yangkiez By MomoMami, initially faced problems with high-interest loans before getting funding through the Women StartUp Programme (WSP) at NSRCEL and presenting her pitch on Shark Tank India.

Preksha Kaparwan of AlphaaAI and Super AI noticed investors treated her differently due to gender bias, often diverting conversations away from her business expertise. This was especially disrespectful for Preksha due to her expertise in design, coding, and website development, skills normally connected to men.

Problem 3: Balancing business and personal responsibilities

an indian office woman talking to her team

For women entrepreneurs, juggling business and personal life is tough. They have to manage their business while also managing home responsibilities, affecting their success and well-being.

This juggle between business and life means making tough choices, such as missing a few business meetings to prioritize a few things at home.

Managing the dual role

To have a chance in managing both roles, Indian woman entrepreneurs need to conduct smart planning. That means reassigning work and trusting their team to complete tasks. This helps them concentrate on more important business areas without neglecting personal life, a skill that requires continuous learning and adjustment.

Real-life examples

Aditi Gupta, who co-founded Menstrupedia, excels in balancing her roles. She's revolutionized education on menstruation, reaching over 13 million girls globally with her comics. Her story shows how dedication to a cause can align with personal ambitions.

Hemlata Pal, founder of Chachi Cross Stitch, launched her business in her 50s, proving age and gender aren't impossible challenges. Her journey is a testament to pursuing passions at any stage in life, successfully merging personal interests with entrepreneurial goals while combatting norms and stereotypes.

Problem 4: Lack of networking opportunities

an indian woman with a man on his phone

For women entrepreneurs in India, finding good networking opportunities is a big hurdle. Networking isn't just about meeting people; it's needed for growing a business, getting mentorship, and meeting potential customers.

The importance of networks for business growth

Having a strong network is vital for any business owner. It helps you find new chances, get valuable advice, and work with others, speeding up your business's growth. This is especially important for women entrepreneurs who face more obstacles in business.

Good networking isn't just about how many people you know but about having meaningful relationships. For women in business, being part of a network that provides real support, shares knowledge, and gives access to specific resources can make a huge difference.

Federation of Indian Women Entrepreneurs (FIWE)

The Federation of Indian Women Entrepreneurs (FIWE) serves as a platform for connecting and empowering women entrepreneurs across India. FIWE offers a range of services including mentoring, training, and networking opportunities, as well as advocating for policies that support women's economic empowerment and entrepreneurship. 

They organize various events, workshops, and conferences that not only showcase women entrepreneurs' achievements but also provide them with essential networking and mentoring opportunities.

Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP)

The Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP) by the Indian Government supports women across India in their business endeavors. It offers resources like funding access, details on government schemes, mentorship, and networking to help women achieve their entrepreneurial goals.

WEP's mission is to make these resources available to more people, making it easier for both new and established women entrepreneurs to get the help they need to thrive in their businesses.

Problem 5: Navigating the digital world

an indian woman on her laptop researching problems faced by women entrepreneurs

Navigating the digital world is crucial for success. However, for women entrepreneurs in India, this journey is fraught with unique challenges, particularly in mastering digital marketing and online business management.

Challenges in digital marketing and business management

Navigating the digital world is a big challenge for women entrepreneurs in India. Even when some support exists for funding and networking, there's still a big gap in digital literacy aid for women. The move to digital marketing and online platforms, sped up by COVID, shines a light on this issue.

Women entrepreneurs, especially in India's smaller towns and rural areas, face societal hurdles and lack help with online finance, cloud services, and old tech. Access to tech and the internet is limited in some places, making it tough to fully use digital tools. Plus, many women entrepreneurs don't have the tech skills to grow their business online.

Problem 6: Overcoming educational and skill gaps

Learning and skill development are needed for women entrepreneurs to thrive. It lays the groundwork for understanding how to run a business and learn the market's needs.

For women entrepreneurs in India, education is even more vital. Education will help close the gap between traditional expectations and the demands of the modern business world. Through education, women will gain the tools to come up with fresh ideas and turn them into thriving businesses.

Yet, many women entrepreneurs find it hard to keep learning and improving their skills due to lack of time and resources. They need access to training that matches the latest tech and market trends.

Support in this area would not only boost their confidence but also help them create businesses that will do better and grow.

Opportunities for skill development and learning:

a woman researching about problems faced by women entrepreneurs
  1. 1
    Digital Literacy Programs: Courses like Google's Digital Garage offers free online courses that can help women entrepreneurs in India learn about digital marketing and using online tools to manage their businesses better. These courses cover topics like social media, SEO, and more.
  2. 2
    Entrepreneurship Development Workshops: The Startup India Learning Program is a free online entrepreneurship program developed by Invest India, under the Startup India initiative. It offers courses in business planning, pitching, and raising capital, tailored to the specific needs of women entrepreneurs.
  3. 3
    Online Education Platforms: Coursera and edX provide a variety of courses in entrepreneurship and business management from top universities that can be accessed online. Courses like "Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies" from Harvard University or "Business Strategies for Social Impact" from Wharton School can be particularly beneficial for skill development.

Problems faced by women entrepreneurs as trailblazers

In India, the problems faced by women entrepreneurs are being met head-on. From managing limited budgets to navigating the digital landscape, they're not just facing these issues; they're mastering them. Their path shows how innovation and passion can transform challenges into chances for success.

A salute is due to these amazing women of India!

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