Let’s start with the statistics: India is home to close to 18% of the world’s population and 50% of it is female. Currently, only 39% of Indian women are formally employed, compared to 81% of Indian men. Less than 20% of women are entrepreneurs and of those that are, only 9% sit at the helm of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the social sector.

Why is the percentage of women who engage in entrepreneurship, much less those in a leadership position, so low? Unfortunately, the reasons are all too obvious: scrutiny from family, judgement from the community, and lack of funding from investors. With India consistently ranked painfully low on various gender equality studies, securing the 108th position out of 149 countries surveyed for the 2018 gender gap index, addressing this disparity calls for new approaches in gender-lens investing and support.

On top of this, the global pandemic disproportionately affected Indian women. Between March and April 2020, 15.4 million women lost their jobs, or 37% of the female workforce, versus 28% of men. Moreover, women-owned small businesses will be the slowest to revive as many operate in consumer-facing sectors such as textiles, food processing and handicrafts which faced a drastic demand dissipation.

After running these initiatives, I have identified three approaches to inspire fellow capacity builders to support women entrepreneurs around their communities more effectively.

  1. Who you are is how you lead. With most companies around the world transitioning to remote working conditions, different ways of working are emerging, and they are posing as new challenges for leaders.
  2. Can my business survive using either current or new offerings? In what ways can my business contribute towards current relief efforts? Particularly during the Covid-19 crisis, fundraising essentials, business modeling and scaling strategies are key elements for entrepreneurs to master. Exploring and practicing new storytelling skills to help refine and craft fundraising pitches will allow them to reach new types of donors. It can also help identify new ways to generate revenue based on current market needs and limitations.
  3. Breaking the silos for women entrepreneurs in India is key to providing them with access to information, opportunities and community.

Read the full article about supporting women entrepreneurs by Shezia Lilani at avpn.