Why women tech entrepreneurship yet to grow in India

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New Delhi: As the world marks International Women’s Day on March 8, a new report reveals that women tech entrepreneurship is still lagging in India despite the rising number of females pursuing engineering studies.

The ‘State of Women Tech Entrepreneurship in Indiareport released by Sheatwork – a one-stop knowledge hub for women entrepreneurs, in partnership with Techarc, highlights the disparity between the rising number of female engineering students and women starting up companies.

While female students count in top engineering institutes like the IITs has increased to 16% now from 5% in last four years, the report points out this is not really translating into more women starting up companies.

In fact, going by current trends, India should have more than 200 unicorns (startups with at least $1 billion valuations) by 2025, many of them going public, but this growth story will be primarily led by men.

The report surveyed 2,000 women across India including women professionals, students, startup founders and business leaders. Almost 48% of women in non-metros are eager to take up tech entrepreneurship as a career option against 23% of women in metros that would like to pursue their own ventures, finds the report.

perception map

Women in metros often prefer opting for corporate jobs as convenient career choices as per the report. This reflects the challenges and opportunities that women get in India, hinting at why women tech entrepreneurship hasn’t gained enough ground.

There are five major barriers for women to take up entrepreneurship. These include:

Access to capital
Around 58% of the surveyed women highlighted the difficulty in raising funds and gaining access to capital in comparison to their male counterparts. Amongst women in metros, 38% of the respondents felt that access to capital in metros is one of the major barriers to taking up entrepreneurship.

Lack of infrastructure and mentorship
As many as 73% of women in non-metros have pointed to the non-availability of adequate infrastructure as a barrier to their move-in taking up entrepreneurship. While 22% of women in metros feel that physical infrastructure is a problem for them.

Lack of mentorship-
67% of women in non-metros adjourn lack of mentorship as another crucial factor in taking up entrepreneurship. 34% of women in metros also feel that mentorship is important and without a guiding light, it becomes difficult for them to shine.

Lack of Talent
Although women from non-metros are inclined towards starting off on their own, finding the right skill set in smaller cities hinders their progress. 48% of non-metro respondents have attributed lack of skilled and talented team often stops them to pursue entrepreneurship in comparison to women from metros where 18% feel that finding the right talent isn’t a hindrance.

Access to Technology: Despite an increasingly educated population, limited access to relevant business and technical resources is a major impediment in scaling the venture, with 74% of respondents from non-metros attributing lack of technology as the primary challenge. 24% of women in metros also opine that technology access is imperative for women entrepreneurs which can make or break their venture.

According to Sheatwork’s Founder Ruby Sinha, women shouldn’t merely be consumers of tech but be creators of tech-driven products/platforms.

“It is for all stakeholders including venture investors, mentors and society at large to ensure that the startup ecosystem especially in the technology space is rich with diversity – not just of ideas but even more women turning entrepreneurs to ensure all round growth of the startup ecosystem,” said Sinha.

“It is the first time that India has more women than men on record as per the recent data released by the National Family and Health Survey,” said Faisal Kawoosa, Chief Analyst and Founder, Techarc further added,

“With this, the need for diversity at workplaces and in industries have become more important. In times to come, we’ll see that the tech sector will welcome women in leading roles where they stand as an icon of power and creativity at the same time,” added Kawoosa.

The key highlight from the report talks about how the entire ecosystem needs a revamp by making entrepreneurship gender agnostic. It is a guide to understanding the state of women in tech, their challenges, and ultimately how to develop solutions to encourage women and promote meaningful gender diversity, equity, and inclusion.

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