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The Tech Panda sought to know the challenges that women entrepreneurs in India still face as the pandemic recovery starts.

Since the world has been turning, women have been told they can’t do business. Women have been consistently proving them wrong. And they continue to do so. Today, women in business mean it. The challenges are still there, and women entrepreneurs take them head on.

India, which has one of the most successful startup ecosystems in the world, doesn’t fare that well when it comes to female entrepreneurship. According to Forbes India, only 13.76% of Indian entrepreneurs are women, with the number of self-employed women going down by 4.85% in 2018-19 since 2011-12. Instead, the number of salaried women has gone up by 22.9%.


Read more: Women in Business 2022: New leadership in a post-pandemic hybrid & teched up ecosystem


Challenges still remain such as social and family constraints, cultural control, lack of financial autonomy, lack of social networks and lack of exposure to the market. A study by Bain and Google (2019) showed that though there has been a substantial growth in the number of women entrepreneurs in the last decade, almost 80% of women in the labour force are still unpaid for formal work.

It further adds that if this situation sees no change, then by 2030 nearly 400 million women will become unemployed. This situation has placed India in the 112th position in the Global Gender Gap Index, 2020.

Today, the Indian startup ecosystem buzzes with successful names of businesswomen like Kiran Mazumdar Shaw of Biocon, Falguni Nayar, Founder of Nykaa, Aditi Gupta of Menstrupedia, Anisha Singh of mydala.com, Shradha Sharma of YourStory, and Upasana Taku of Mobikwik.

But we want to hear more names. There are thousands of names that are still struggling to be added to this list. What’s stopping them? What challenges are they facing?

The Tech Panda asked several women entrepreneurs what challenges they continue to face in the modern world of business.

Tarusha Mittal, COO & Co-founder, UniFarm 

“Being an entrepreneur in the Blockchain and Defi industry, which is still at a nascent stage in itself is pretty challenging. There is a huge chasm between males and females in the space but after years of having been in tech I believe in letting my actions speak louder than words.

There is a huge chasm between males and females in the space but after years of having been in tech I believe in letting my actions speak louder than words

“So, build without letting gender shackle you. A challenge is that there is less representation and fewer peers that are females hence sounding boards are all mostly male but that will change as the space grows.”

Priyanka Srinivas, Founder & CEO, The Live Green Company

“Although the industry is booming, according to this study companies with only female founders in agriculture and foodtech receive a paltry 7% of investment deals—representing just 3% of all investment dollars.

“Female founders in foodtech are few, but one that is of color and not of the native language where her company was piloted has been practically non-existent to date. When I first hatched the idea to move from the corporate world in India as a Senior Manager at retail giant Target to Santiago, Chile, not knowing any Spanish to start my own company—many thought I was crazy.

I feel very proud as a female entrepreneur who has navigated her own way through the challenges of adversity and come out on top despite the odds

“But when I create an affirmation to achieve something, I strongly visualize it in my mind with 100% conviction, and I truly believe that the world needs more availability of healthy and sustainable foods. Although it was very difficult at times from facing the civil unrest in Chile in 2019, Pandemic in 2020 while working hard with my team to grow the company and fundraise at the same time, for me personally it was a huge leap of faith where I truly tested my limits and empowered myself along the way.

“I am grateful to be backed by a team that works very relentlessly and passionately for a big purpose, mirroring my own ambitions in many ways. Now that we are expanding from Chile into the United States after growing Live Green Co 10X since its US$1.2M seed round in 2020, we will turn a page on a whole new chapter for the company. I feel very proud as a female entrepreneur who has navigated her own way through the challenges of adversity and come out on top despite the odds.”

Srividya Kannan, Founder & CEO, Avaali Solutions

“As an entrepreneur, there are numerous challenges to keeping brand Avaali top of mind for both customers and prospective employees. These only become more complex as attention span continues to shrink and the need for instant gratification continues unabated.

There are no real challenges as a woman per se. I’ve always believed that you get what you expect; therefore, it is vital to plan and execute with diligence to expect the best results

“There are no real challenges as a woman per se. I’ve always believed that you get what you expect; therefore it is vital to plan and execute with diligence to expect the best results.”

Niranjana Neelakantan, Co-founder & COO, TESSOL

“Maybe since we were all operating in a fully virtual world under similar constraints, surprisingly, many of the challenges I used to face in a physical setting in my sector vanished once we started working virtually.

In our sector otherwise, the greatest challenge one faces is the biases that people hold against women and their ability to deliver in this sector. Things are getting much better with time, but we still have a long way to go

“Professionally, I noticed, gender suddenly did not really play a part in day-to-day activities. In our sector otherwise, the greatest challenge one faces is the biases that people hold against women and their ability to deliver in this sector. Things are getting much better with time, but we still have a long way to go.”

Silky Singh, Co-founder, Lori Health

As women entrepreneurs, we see there is an inherent bias that people carry. Because women our age (I mean in ’30s) have personal commitments such as marriage and kids

“As women entrepreneurs, we see there is an inherent bias that people carry. Because women our age (I mean in ’30s) have personal commitments such as marriage and kids. I feel this is hard-wired in people’s minds.”

Aishwarya Shivakumar, CEO, Oddz Finance

“The web3 sector has been unconventional and disruptive fundamentally but when it comes to gender disparity, it is an industry that is improving. 2021 saw women in blockchain technology increase to 12% from an earlier count of 8%.

The web3 sector has been unconventional and disruptive fundamentally but when it comes to gender disparity, it is an industry that is improving

“This again might seem like a small win but it is a sign that this web3 world is moving forward into an inclusive world which is exactly what it stands for.”

Divya Jain, Co-founder, Seekho

Nothing comes linear in life, but it is all about inching towards that perfect trajectory

“Speaking of challenges faced during this journey, I must say I’m fortunate enough in not having too many roadblocks. Striking the right balance between family-work and moving from a brick and mortar single founder business to a VC funded startup are two things which come to the top of my mind. Nothing comes linear in life, but it is all about inching towards that perfect trajectory.”

Shweta Kataria, Co-founder & Chief Product Officer, GENLEAP

“Being an entrepreneur and a woman, brings with itself some challenges of its own. Women leaders are often seen as less of risk takers and not strong on the finance and business side of things. It is essential that women get a supportive ecosystem which is not driven by gender biases and pre-conceived notions about their skills. We must build a culture where women’s abilities are seen for what they are, and they are encouraged to do and learn more.

We must build a culture where women’s abilities are seen for what they are, and they are encouraged to do and learn more

“Even though I am in the creation side of the business, which is product development, a skill set I believe I inherently possess, I have been able to understand my capabilities, and enhance my strength in the finance side of the business as well. I have been fortunate to be surrounded by co-workers who lift each other up. As women entrepreneurs, the right ecosystem, along with a ‘can-do’ mindset will help us overcome these challenges.”

Deepshikha Kumar, Founder & CEO of SpeakIn

“It’s true in general that women face greater challenges in an entrepreneurial venture than men. As awareness grows about what women bring to business and leadership, the inequity is on the wane, but it is happening very slowly. We may have a long way to go still but there is much greater acceptance of the skill sets that a woman brings to a leadership role than was the case say ten or fifteen years ago.

Research after research has shown that women are empathetic leaders. And empathy is a quality the world in general, and the corporate world in particular, needs in no small measure in times of Covid, where all of us are grappling with our personal and professional issues

“It is widely recognised now, for instance, that women excel at soft skills. Research after research has shown that women are empathetic leaders. And empathy is a quality the world in general, and the corporate world in particular, needs in no small measure in times of Covid, where all of us are grappling with our personal and professional issues.

“In the training and coaching space, where we at SpeakIn operate, women understand the importance of education and career advancement more, given their life experiences.”

Neha Suyal, Co-founder, Woovly

“In many ways, 2021 was a landmark year as many people started acknowledging and speaking out about the dearth of women led startups. Lack of women in leadership roles highlights the gender disparity in the corporate sector.

Lack of women in leadership roles highlights the gender disparity in the corporate sector

“This has led to a lot of initiatives by public and private organization as well as the government to encourage women on the path of entrepreneurship. I think more women entrepreneurs will definitely have a manifold impact on job creation and economic growth and promote inclusivity.”


Read more: Women remain a minority in India’s startup ecosystem: Will the saga continue in 2022? 


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