Growth of Women Entrepreneurship in India!
Women in India constitute around half of the country’s population. Hence, they are regarded as the “better half of the society”. In the official proclamation, they are at par with men. But, in real life, the truth prevails otherwise. Our society is still male-dominated and women are not treated as equal partners both inside and outside four walls of the house.
In fact, they are treated as abla, i.e., weak and dependent on men. As such, the Indian women enjoy a disadvantageous status in the society. Let us give some facts about it. The low literacy rate (40%), low work participation rate (28%) and low urban population share (10%) of women as compared to 60%, 52% and 18% respectively of their male counterparts well confirm their disadvantageous position in the Indian society.
Our age-old socio-cultural traditions and taboos arresting the women within four walls of their houses also make their conditions more disadvantageous. These factors together serve as non-conducive conditions for the emergence and development of women entrepreneurship in the country.
Given these unfavourable conditions, the development of women entrepreneurship is expectedly low in the country. This is well indicated by a dismally low level of women (5.2%) in total self- employed persons in the country (Gupta and Khanka 1996). Further, women entrepreneurs in India accounted for 9.01% of the total 1.70 million entrepreneurs in the country during 1988-89 (Desai 1992).
A cross-country comparison reveals that emergence and development of entrepreneurship is largely caused by the availability of supporting conditions in a country. To quote, with improving supporting conditions, the share of women owned enterprises in the United States has risen from 7.1% in 1977 to 32% in 1990. It is likely to reach to 50% by the turn of the 20th century.
In India, women entry into business is a new phenomenon. Women entry into business, or say, entrepreneurship is traced out as an extension of their kitchen activities mainly to 3 Ps, viz., Pickles, Powder and Pappad. Women in India plugged into business for both pull and push factors.
Pull factors imply the factors which encourage women to start an occupation or venture with an urge to do something independently. Push factors refer to those factors which compel women to take up their own business to tide over their economic difficulties and responsibilities.
With growing awareness about business and spread of education among women over the period, women have started shifting from 3 Ps to engross to 3 modem Es, viz., Engineering, Electronics, and Energy and other industries under Integrated Rural Development Programmes (David 1992). They have excelled in these activities. Women entrepreneurs manufacturing solar cookers in Gujarat, small foundries in Maharashtra and T.V. capacitors in Odisha have proved beyond doubt that given the opportunities, they can excel their male counterparts (Moore and Buttner 1997).
Smt. Sumati Morarji (Shipping Corporation), Smt. Yamutai Kirloskar (Mahila Udyog Limited), Smt. Neena MaUiotra (Exports), Kiran Majumdar Shaw (Bio-technology) Naina Lai Kidwai (Banking), Jaswantiben Jamnadas Popat (Food), and Smt. Shahnaz Hussain (Beauty Clinic) are some exemplary names of successful and accomplished women entrepreneurs in our country.
Women have traditionally played an important role in the small business development as owners, managers, and workers. They dominate three important sub-sectors, constituting over 80 per cent of the employees in textile, clothing and leather production; 75 per cent in food, beverages and tobacco production; and over 60 per cent in wood and wood processing (quoted by Bhargav (2007). Besides, they also act as micro- entrepreneurs and traders in agri-business.
In India, Kerala is a state with highest literacy (including women literacy) reflecting a congenial atmosphere for the emergence and development of women entrepreneurship in the State. According to a study of the Government of Kerala (Government of Kerala 1984), the number of women’s industrial units in Kerala was 358 in 1981 which rose to 782 in March 1984.
These 782 units included 592 proprietary concerns, 43 partnership firms, 42 charitable institutions, 03 joint stock companies and 102 co-operative societies covering a wide-range of activities. On the whole, proper education of women in Kerala resulted in high motivation among them to enter into business.
The financial, marketing and training assistance provided by the State Government also helped motivate women to assume entrepreneurial career. Women’s desire to work at the place or residence, difficulty of getting jobs in the public and private sectors and the desire for social recognition also motivated women in Kerala for self- employment. Like Kerala, an increasing number of women are entering the business in the State of Maharashtra also.