Can Women Build A Better World?
Harper's Bazaar India|March 2021
With more finances and funds at their disposal, female entrepreneurs help in accelerating social progress. Here is how...
Humra Afroz Khan

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.

ANISHA SINGH

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.”

RUCHEE ANAND,

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.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM HARPER'S BAZAAR INDIAView All

STRONGER TOGETHER

For the first time in 15 years, two of the country’s most powerful fashion platforms—Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) in Delhi and Lakmé Fashion Week (LFW) in Mumbai—joined forces to host one phygital, seasonless edition that was streamed across social media channels. A prudent decision, many stated; one lauded for the collaborative efforts to preserve an industry impacted by the global pandemic. In a special conversation with Bazaar, Sunil Sethi and Jaspreet Chandok share their views on the historic decision and the future of Indian fashion...

7 mins read
Harper's Bazaar India
March 2021

THE SUPERS

They have witnessed an exclusive industry become inclusive. They have dealt with the changing norms of beauty. They have battled countless hurdles to stay at the top of their game. Meet India’s most celebrated supermodels as they connect with their inner beauty, and share their journey of self-love, acceptance, and evolution in the modelling world that is as unforgiving as it is glamorous.

5 mins read
Harper's Bazaar India
March 2021

NATURE LOVERS

In a first, two prominent advocates for the cause of environment protection have a conversation about the urgent actions needed to safeguard our future. Dr Krithi Karanth, Director of Centre for Wildlife Studies, speaks with actor Dia Mirza, champion of environmental rights, about her work and views.

8 mins read
Harper's Bazaar India
March 2021

REBEL WITH A CAUSE

Parliamentarian Mahua Moitra is unapologetic, unafraid, and here to make her voice heard. Bazaar gets to know the woman everybody is talking about...

10+ mins read
Harper's Bazaar India
March 2021

THE MIGHTY, MIGHTY BIRKIN

How the Hermès carryall withstood trends and weathered seasons to become an indelible part of the culture.

5 mins read
Harper's Bazaar India
March 2021

A MOVEABLE FEAST

Follow in the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway in Cuba, visiting the author’s cherished haunts and discovering new culinary delights.

4 mins read
Harper's Bazaar India
March 2021

The Power Of Sisterhood

Mothers, daughters, and sisters...they are the women who shape us and teach us the value of female bonds. In a special Bazaar feature, we speak with four leading families of India, to celebrate the relationship they share.

10 mins read
Harper's Bazaar India
March 2021

Can Women Build A Better World?

With more finances and funds at their disposal, female entrepreneurs help in accelerating social progress. Here is how...

6 mins read
Harper's Bazaar India
March 2021

INDIA ON A PLATE

Celebrity chef Sarah Todd marries classical Indian favours with French techniques in her latest cookbook.

2 mins read
Harper's Bazaar India
March 2021

ENCHANTED FOREST

High couture takes a whimsical journey into the unknown...

1 min read
Harper's Bazaar India
December 2020