Do you know, according to the Sixth Economic Census by the National Sample Survey Organisation, there were 58.5 million businesses in India in 2016—ranging from corner shops to venture-funded startups—and of these, only 8.05 million were run by women entrepreneurs? That’s just about 14 percent. There’s more, and this is, perhaps, cause for worry: about 79 percent of these enterprises that were run by women were self-financed.
Founding Partner, SheCapital
The cold truth is that not much has changed since, and this discreet but-definite inequity regarding financing women’s businesses or startups continues to exist. Anisha Singh, the Founding Partner of SheCapital—an early-stage fund that invests in women-led businesses—shares another interesting insight with Bazaar. “According to research, even in the most gender-progressive countries, there is a bias against women entrepreneurs, when it comes to investing in their businesses. In fact, women are asked very different questions than men by the investors.” She’s not wrong. In a study published in the Harvard Business Review in 2017, men were asked about the potential for ‘gains’, while women were asked about the potential for ‘losses’. “The difference in questioning explains much of why female entrepreneurs received five times less funding than their male counterparts” the report said, adding that “female entrepreneurs receive only about two percent of all venture funding, despite owning 38 percent of the businesses in the US.”
Sargam Dhawan Bhayana, a 26-year-old entrepreneur, can vouch for such partisanship, first-hand. Sargam founded Tressmart—a premium marketplace for hair-care, beauty, and make-up products in India—in 2017, and went on to acquire Paul Penders Botanicals—a Netherlands-based beauty, skin-care and hair-care brand—the same year. “Business is a male-dominated environment and earning respect as a female entrepreneur can be a struggle,” she says. “Women are questioned on their ability to juggle business and family. And no matter what her qualifications or work experience, a woman’s business idea is often considered just a hobby—in extreme cases, even a whim to stay busy. It is a challenge to explain the merits of an idea, or even one’s own competence to execute it, especially when trying to get financial support for the business.”
Director, Talent and Learning Solutions, LinkedIn India
Despite the sorry state of financial support, female-started businesses are often seen to outperform their male counterparts.
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