Women Entrepreneurs may be defined as the women or a group of women who initiate, organize and operate a business enterprise.
Government of India has defined women entrepreneurs as an enterprise owned and controlled by a women having a minimum financial interest of 1% of the capital and giving at least 51% of employment generated in the enterprise to women.
Problems of Women Entrepreneurs in India/Challenges faced by Women Entrepreneurs
Women in India have faced many problems to get ahead their life in business. Women entrepreneurs face a series of problems right from the beginning till the enterprise functions. The problems of Indian women pertains to her responsibility towards family, society and work.
The traditions, customs, socio cultural values, ethics, motherhood, physically weak, feeling of insecurity etc. are some peculiar problems that the Indian women are coming across while they jump into entrepreneurship.
Women in rural areas have to suffer still further. They face tough resistance from men. They are considered as helpers. The attitude of society towards her and constraints in which she has to live and work are not very conducive.
Besides the above basic problems the other problems faced by women entrepreneurs are as follows:
- Family ties
Women in India are very emotionally attached to their families. They are supposed to attend to all the domestic work, to look after the children and other members of the family. They are over burden with family responsibilities like extra attention to husband, children and in laws, which take away a lots of their time and energy. In such situation, it will be very difficult to concentrate and run the enterprise successfully.
- Male dominated society
Even though our constitution speaks of equality between sexes, male chauvinism is still the order of the day. Women are not treated equal to men. Their entry to business requires the approval of the head of the family. Entrepreneurship has traditionally been seen as a male preserve. All these put a break in the growth of women entrepreneurs.
- Lack of education
Women in India are lagging far behind in the field of education. Most of the women (around sixty per cent of total women) are illiterate. Those who are educated are provided either less or inadequate education than their male counterpart partly due to early marriage, partly due to son’s higher education and partly due to poverty. Due to lack of proper education, women entrepreneurs remain in dark about the development of new technology, new methods of production, marketing and other governmental support which will encourage them to flourish.
- Social barriers
The traditions and customs prevailed in Indian societies towards women sometimes stand as an obstacle before them to grow and prosper. Castes and religions dominate with one another and hinders women entrepreneurs too. In rural areas, they face more social barriers. They are always seen with suspicious eyes.
- Shortage of raw materials
Neither the scarcity of raw materials nor availability of proper and adequate raw materials sounds the death-knell of the enterprises run by women entrepreneurs. Women entrepreneurs really face a tough task in getting the required raw material and other necessary inputs for the enterprises when the prices are very high.
- Problem of finance
Women entrepreneurs have to struggle a lot in raising and meeting the financial needs of the business. Bankers, creditors and financial institutes are not coming forward to provide financial assistance to women borrowers on the ground of their less credit worthiness and more chances of business failure. They also face financial problem due to blockage of funds in raw materials, work-in-progress finished goods and non-receipt of payment from customers in time.
- Tough competition
Usually women entrepreneurs employ low technology in the process of production. In a market where the competition is too high, they have to fight hard to survive in the market against the organized sector and their male counterpart who have vast experience and capacity to adopt advanced technology in managing enterprises
- High cost of production
Several factors including inefficient management contribute to the high cost of production, which stands as a stumbling block before women entrepreneurs. Women entrepreneurs face technology obsolescence due to non-adoption or slow adoption to changing technology, which is a major factor of high cost of production.
- Low risk-bearing capacity
Women in India are by nature weak, shy and mild. They cannot bear the amount risk which is essential for running an enterprise. Lack of education, training and financial support from outsides also reduce their ability to bear the risk involved in an enterprises.
- Limited mobility
Women mobility in India is highly limited and has become a problem due to traditional values and inability to drive vehicles. Moving alone and asking for a room to stay out in the night for business purposes are still looked upon with suspicious eyes. Sometimes, younger women feel uncomfortable in dealing with men who show extra interest in them than work related aspects.
- Lack of entrepreneurial aptitude
Lack of entrepreneurial aptitude is a matter of concern for women entrepreneurs. They have no entrepreneurial bent of mind. Even after attending various training programmes on entrepreneur ship women entrepreneurs fail to tide over the risks and troubles that may come up in an organizational working.
- Limited managerial ability
Management has become a specializedjob which only efficient managers perform. Women entrepreneurs are not efficient in managerial functions like planning, organizing, controlling, coordinating, staffing, directing, motivating etc. of an enterprise. Therefore, less and limited managerial ability of women has become a problem for them to run the enterprise successfully.
- Legal formalities
Fulfilling the legal formalities required for running an enterprise becomes an upheaval task on the part of an women entrepreneur because of the prevalence of corrupt practices in government offices and procedural delays for various licenses, electricity, water and shed allotments. In such situations women entrepreneurs find it hard to concentrate on the smooth working of the enterprise.
- Exploitation by middle men
Since women cannot run around for marketing, distribution and money collection, they have to depend on middlemen for the above activities. Middlemen tend to exploit them in the guise of helping. They add their own profit margin, which result in less sales and lesser profit.
- Lack of self-confidence
Women entrepreneurs because of their inherent nature, lack of self-confidence, which is essentially a motivating factor in running an enterprise successfully. They have to strive hard to strike a balance between managing a family and managing an enterprise. Sometimes she has to sacrifice her entrepreneurial urge in order to strike a balance between the two.
How to Develop Women Entrepreneurs?
Right efforts on all areas are required in the development of women entrepreneurs and their greater participation in the entrepreneurial activities. Following efforts can be taken into account for effective development of women entrepreneurs.
- Consider women as specific target group for all developmental programmes.
- Better educational facilities and schemes should be extended to women folk from government part.
- Adequate training programmes on management skills to be provided to women community.
- Encourage women’s participation in decision-making.
- Vocational training to be extended to women community that enables them to understand the production process and production management.
- Skill development to be done in women’s polytechnics and industrial training institutes. Skills are put to work in training-cum-production workshops.
- Training on professional competence and leadership skill to be extended to women entrepreneurs.
- Training and counselling on a large scale of existing women entrepreneurs to remove psychological causes like lack of self-confidence and fear of success.
- Counselling through the aid of committed NGOs, psychologists, managerial experts and technical personnel should be provided to existing and emerging women entrepreneurs.
- Continuous monitoring and improvement of training programmes.
- Activities in which women are trained should focus on their marketability and profitability.
- Making provision of marketing and sales assistance from government part.
- To encourage more passive women entrepreneurs the Women training programmes should be organized that taught to recognize her own psychological needs and express them.
- State finance corporations and financing institutions should permit by statute to extend purely trade related finance to women entrepreneurs.
- Women’s development corporations have to gain access to open-ended financing.
- The financial institutions should provide more working capital assistance both for small scale venture and large scale ventures.
- Making provision of micro credit system and enterprise credit system to the women entrepreneurs at local level.
- Repeated gender sensitization programmes should be held to train financiers to treat women with dignity and respect as persons in their own right.
- Infrastructure, in the form of industrial plots and sheds, to set up industries is to be provided by state run agencies.
- Industrial estates could also provide marketing outlets for the display and sale of products made by women.
- A Women Entrepreneur’s Guidance Cell set up to handle the various problems of women entrepreneurs all over the state.
- District Industries Centers and Single Window Agencies should make use of assisting women in their trade and business guidance.
- Programmes for encouraging entrepreneurship among women are to be extended at local level.
- Training in entrepreneurial attitudes should start at the high school level through well-designed courses, which build confidence through behavioural games.
- More governmental schemes to motivate women entrepreneurs to engage in small scale and large-scale business ventures.
- Involvement of Non Governmental Organizations in women entrepreneurial training programmes and counselling.