Accelerating women entrepreneurship in India can generate 150–170 million jobs

Realizing this potential will account for more than 25% of all new jobs needed by 2030.

Women in entrepreneurship can generate transformational employment in India and generate 150–170 million jobs, which is more than 25% of the new jobs required for the entire working age population by 2030, according to a joint report by Bain & Company and Google titled “Women Entrepreneurship in India – Powering the economy with her” – released today. The report underlines the need to accelerate efforts to grow women entrepreneurs in India in both quantity and quality to solve employment challenges in the country.

The report highlights the unprecedented opportunity India has, as it soon grows into a nation with the largest working age population in the world, by focusing on growing the overall base of women entrepreneurs as well as enterprise quality. It presents women entrepreneurship, as a vital component to boost the economy through job creation as the private and government sector alone have not been sufficient in generating the required jobs.

The report identifies six dominant segments of women entrepreneurs and estimates India to have 13.5–15.7 million women-owned enterprises, representing approximately 20% of all enterprises today. In many cases, women are named as owners for financial and administrative reasons with no active role to play, which overstates true entrepreneurship amongst women. Of all women-owned enterprises, a majority are single person enterprises, with the largest group represented by rural non-farm home-based business owners at 38% followed by urban self-employed women solopreneurs at 31%, who usually work from home. The other dominant segments include rural agripreneurs who are farm-based business owners at 18% and small business owners at 14% - split across urban (6%) and rural (8%), employing less than 10 employees and contributing most to employment generation. Finally, there are the scalers, who employ more than 10 people and account for less than 1%. In total, these women entrepreneurs provide direct employment to an estimated 22 to 27 million people today.

The report projects an opportunity to accelerate both quantity and quality of entrepreneurship to create over 30 million women-owned enterprises out of which 12 million can generate employment.

The report outlines the following four opportunity areas to unlock the potential of women and entrepreneurship in India:

  • Level the playing field for the high-impact, employment-creating entrepreneurs
  • Enable the willing middle—the ambitious solopreneurs and small business owners—to scale and become high-impact entrepreneurs
  • Expand the funnel to get more women to start enterprises
  • Build, strengthen and scale productive rural agripreneurs

The report provides rich insights into the motivations, advocacy and constraints across the six distinct types of women entrepreneurs and outlines the following challenges:

  • Access to finance impacts nearly every entrepreneur across segments, but it manifests in the form of disparity in the investor ecosystem for the scalers, and lack of information and absence of tailored products for rural and urban solopreneurs.
  • Scalers are disadvantaged due to exclusion from networks, especially informal ones, but for urban solopreneurs, it is about not having had the opportunity to create a network of any sort.
  • Rural agripreneurs is a distinct segment, which is here to stay, and can be a critical catalyst of the modernisation of agriculture.
  • Across all segments, women face cultural constraints that continue to stall advancement. These manifest in the form of denial of the social permission to work and for those that work, gender biases and expectations that persists widely.
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