The Challenges Women Face as Entrepreneurs

Ashwini Ashwini
Mar 7, 2022 32 min read
The Challenges Women Face as Entrepreneurs

For a long time now, Bollywood and the storybooks have been raking mullahs through selling the idea of a fairy-tale. Something that's so deeply rooted and then marketed in and around women that many has started believing that a fairytale is an ultimate destination for a woman in our country and every woman wishes for it. But then you know this thing about stories - that they're always subjective. The perfect version of a fairytale differs from person to person. And, the truth is - there's no fairytale, whatsoever. For women in India, unfortunately - the process involves continuous tests and proving their mettle, something that makes women possess a qualitative advantage over men owing to the perfection of skill-sets as they pass the tests of time but has the journey been smooth enough? No.

Is the struggle worth it? Definitely yes!

We interviewed several women and stepped into their shoes on the event of International Women's Day and here's what they have to say about the challenges they've faced and overcome over the period:

Karishma V Mangal Director and Trustee Thakur International School - Cambridge
Tina Garg, CEO at Pink Lemonade
Artist Swati Pasari
Anshula Kapoor, Founder Fankind
Annu Talreja, CEO, Founder at Oxfordcaps
Neha Bagaria, Founder & CEO at JobsForHer
Shradha Vyas, founder at Carpediem Events
Nishtha Gupta, Co-founder at Rein Games
Devangi Dalal, Audiologist and Speech Therapist, Co-Founder at JOSH Foundation
Neelam Gupta, Founder President & CEO at AROH Foundation
Vedaxari Joshi, Founder at All 'bout Communication
Rishu Gandhi, Founder & Head Brand Strategist at Mother Sparsh
Charmi Sheth, Senior interior Designer at Livspace
Akriti Khatri, Founder at Venus Detective Agency
Srishti Baweja, Director at E2E Networks
Vishakha Chawla, founder at Vishakha Chawla Interiors
Malika Sadani, Founder & CEO at The Moms Co
Nirupama Subramanian, CoFounder at GLOW
Meghna Kishore, Co-founder Greendigo
San Banerjee, CEO & Founder at ADDA
Bhawana Bhatnagar, Founder at Casa Exotique
Aditi Olemann, Co-founder at Myelin Foundry
Dr. Prerna Taneja, Director at Clinic Eximus
Madhura Moulik, Co-Founder at Skilfinity
Yogita Tulsiani, CEO at iXceed Solutions
Prashanti Malisetti, CEO and Founder at Pixel Pictures
Dr Malini Saba, Founder & Chairman, Saba Group & Anannke Foundations
Amarpreet Rai, Co-Founder & Director of Operations and Development, Sanrai International
Anchal Kadam and Arpan Mahtani - Co-founders, Carat Crush
Ms. Heena Sehrawat, CEO, Geetanjali Miarcle Makers

Karishma V Mangal Director and Trustee Thakur International School - Cambridge

Karishma V Mangal Director and Trustee Thakur International School - Cambridge
Karishma V Mangal Director and Trustee Thakur International School - Cambridge

The worst of it all is the bias- that you are a woman- are you sure?
It takes time for doors to open and one has to be at it consistently to build trust and be finally allowed to explore and make mistakes. Luckily for me, I came into an organisation that has a considerable female employee ratio. However, as an entrepreneur, I feel I have the pressure to prove myself against all odds and that sometimes takes a toll on the entire project or purpose. In most scenarios, I try to take inputs, put my best and then work consistently.

Tina Garg, CEO at Pink Lemonade

Tina Garg, CEO at Pink Lemonade
Tina Garg, CEO at Pink Lemonade

My challenges weren't unusual from any other entrepreneur. They weren't really related to being a woman, fortunately. I believe if you're confident, aware and ahead of your game, you're pretty much on an even footing today. So my challenges were really around hiring when we were smaller, finding the right leadership, and coaching the team for the next level of growth. The right strategic intervention from my mentor and spouse, Tapan, quickly helped us solve many of these, and today he is the chief mentor to the organization as a whole. Most women entrepreneurs must avail of some form of mentoring support from both men and women if possible.

Artist Swati Pasari

 Swati Pasari
Swati Pasari

Yes, being a woman professional is difficult, in a world that is still dominated by men. People often don’t take you seriously, and being an artist, is even more difficult because there will be times when your clients will start bargaining or even ask why is the painting priced high and the likes. However, I have always maintained a smile and considered politeness to be the best way out, no matter what you are facing.

Anshula Kapoor, Founder Fankind

Anshula Kapoor, Founder Fankind
Anshula Kapoor, Founder Fankind

I chose to be an entrepreneur because I had an idea that I believed could help bring joy to people. I am a sole founder and I have never considered my gender to be a deterrent in anything I have done so far in my life. However, since the inception of the idea of Fankind, being taken seriously or getting the respect of being an entrepreneur when I enter a meeting, is still a struggle. And the notion that respect is somehow tied to my gender still confounds me. I am still asked "will Sir be joining us?" or "is your senior on his way". I can literally see their faces fall when I tell them I am the Sir and will be commanding the meeting.

I've attended meetings where men have found it hard to make eye contact and talk to me directly, even when they were meant to be answering a question I have asked! Respect should not be based on my gender. And I have to consciously choose to not let anyone else's perception of my ability or skills hamper how I lead or the decisions I make. I've learned that I just have to put blinders on and charge forward, armed with self-belief and a goal.

Annu Talreja, CEO, Founder at Oxfordcaps

Annu Talreja, CEO, Founder at Oxfordcaps
Annu Talreja, CEO, Founder at Oxfordcaps

One of the biggest challenges I faced in my journey was to build a capable and passionate team that believes in your vision and is willing to work hard for it. This challenge is further amplified if you are a woman as unconscious biases often don’t allow people to imagine women in leadership roles. I have had interviewees actually ask me if I worked in the organisation in HR or admin role and some who asked me what time I personally left work every day. As a woman in one of the most male-dominated industries (real estate), I have developed my own mechanisms to deal with such biases. They have to be dealt with internally as well as externally. Internally, I have always accepted that the world is not fair. Such biases are not just gender-based, they could be based on colour, height, etc. Once you accept this as a person, you start focusing on the solution rather than the problem. This lets you deal with the problem externally by focusing on how you can break these biases and lead by example.

Neha Bagaria, Founder & CEO at JobsForHer

Neha Bagaria, Founder & CEO at JobsForHer
Neha Bagaria, Founder & CEO at JobsForHer

When I founded JobsForHer in March 2015, I was told by a lot of women that they were being advised to hide the ‘gap’ in their resumes because most companies would perceive the gap negatively. The same was corroborated when we started speaking to companies to recruit women returnees and they brashly proclaimed that they don’t want to hire women or women on a break or mothers!
Over the last 5 years, we have made huge efforts and progress in changing the mindsets of both women and companies. Women, so that they feel confident about the gap in their resumes and portray it in the right light and companies so that now they are not only taking back a huge number of women returnees but are working with us closely to reach out to this candidate pool.

Shradha Vyas, founder at Carpediem Events

Shradha Vyas, founder at Carpediem Events
Shradha Vyas, founder at Carpediem Events

Being in the Event industry, there are many difficulties that a woman, in general, would face. I would have hoped being the boss would change how women are perceived. On a regular basis, I manage the execution of events and exhibitions wherein the workers are primarily male-dominated. To ensure, they listen to a woman has been a task, but being in the Industry for almost 7+ years, I have acquired the skills to talk and reach out to everyone and get the job done. On the other hand, we have a secret weapon, for a woman it is simple to solve complex situations – we just get angry and everyone listens to us!

Nishtha Gupta, Co-founder at Rein Games

Nishtha Gupta, Co-founder at Rein Games
Nishtha Gupta, Co-founder at Rein Games

In India, challenges are at multiple levels, and very similar to what a woman employee will face. Some challenges can be solved with time while others are deep-rooted and part of the culture.

Short-term challenges are getting more flexibility - Women often have to manage both office and home. They also want to reach home at safe hours so they expect flexible work environments. At Rein Games, we offer flexible work conditions for all our employees. We also want employees to openly talk about their personal lives and not keep their personal lives personal. The office environment should act as a cushion and the more comfortable they are discussing their personal matters more we can help our people. We see that being kind and understanding drives higher ownership and responsibility in our people.

A few of the long-term challenges as women entrepreneurs are being taken seriously by investors and getting equal respect as our male counterparts. As a woman entrepreneur, I believe if I keep taking stands and being more vocal about these issues, things will gradually change. Finally, we have to nurture more women entrepreneurs, one of my all-time favorite quotes is Strong Women - May We Know Them, Be Them, Raise/Nurture them.

Devangi Dalal, Audiologist and Speech Therapist, Co-Founder at JOSH Foundation

Devangi Dalal, Audiologist and Speech Therapist, Co-Founder at JOSH Foundation
Devangi Dalal, Audiologist and Speech Therapist, Co-Founder at JOSH Foundation

When I started out in back in the early 1990s, very few people were aware of what I do. Being an audiologist and speech therapist, I had to work with normal people having difficulties and disabilities. Every individual has potential and we just need to enhance it.
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions, particularly in dealing with hearing-impaired children and disabilities and I consistently work towards changing the false perception of people by getting results because unless you don’t prove it, people will not believe it. Over the years technology has advanced so much that people want their phones and laptops to have the latest technology but when it comes to adapting technology for the hearing-impaired, people are always reluctant. I had to work really hard to make people realize how technology can make a difference in the lives of these children. That was the major task.
With social work also there is a misconception that social work has to be quantitative but my profession has made me realize that social work is all about qualitative work because that will create an impact and change the lives of people. Taking an example of Swacch India and Swasth India, I believe that one thought process should be swacch(clean) and to make yourself self-dependent (swasth). Every individual, whether normal or disabled, has to be channelized to be self-dependent.

Neelam Gupta, Founder President & CEO at AROH Foundation

Neelam Gupta, Founder President & CEO at AROH Foundation
Neelam Gupta, Founder President & CEO at AROH Foundation

Entrepreneurship is a difficult life, but social entrepreneurship can be more difficult. Working in the social sector has been rewarding for me, as it fulfills my long-cherished dream of helping society. However, there have been daunting challenges. It was a huge challenge to work in the remote, unreached villages, particularly Naxalite-affected areas. AROH took the bold decision to venture into the Red Corridor villages of Bihar, Jharkhand, and Odisha. The field staff and functionaries have gone through the threats of Naxalites. I was personally challenged and threatened by the Naxalites. But we have bravely carried on the work in areas where most needed and come out with great impact.
The social sector also suffers a dearth of good manpower. It is difficult to find competent human resources to work in distant, remote, and backward villages which lack basic amenities. It is also a challenge to work in villages where means of transportation do not exist. In many areas, one has to walk miles to reach the village. Regular flow of funds was another major challenge as it is difficult to sustain the good work when funds dry up.

Vedaxari Joshi, Founder at All 'bout Communication

Vedaxari Joshi, Founder at All 'bout Communication
Vedaxari Joshi, Founder at All 'bout Communication

Well, the challenges I faced were not because I was a woman but because I was very young. I started my journey at 24 and as PR is the most important aspect of a brand, to be taken seriously by brands was important. Fortunately, most of my clients knew me from my previous roles and liked my work. As a woman, on the other hand, one of the things we all face is what the movie Bombshell showcases. When you are at a junior level, men do try to use their designations to draw sexual favours and as a young girl, it can get confusing and stressful. It also does affect your personal life and mental health.

Rishu Gandhi, Founder & Head Brand Strategist at Mother Sparsh

Rishu Gandhi, Founder & Head Brand Strategist at Mother Sparsh
Rishu Gandhi, Founder & Head Brand Strategist at Mother Sparsh

The road to entrepreneurship is always a tough one, more so when you are a woman. Some of the initial challenges I faced were ensuring adequate funding, exploring the scope of mobility, and gaining practical experience. Also, balancing the business and family life posed a major challenge in my journey. But thanks to the determination and support of my family members, I was able to overcome the challenges and channel my efforts in the right direction.

Charmi Sheth, Senior interior Designer at Livspace

Charmi Sheth, Senior interior Designer at Livspace
Charmi Sheth, Senior interior Designer at Livspace

As women, the bar is set much higher for us as compared to our male counterparts. We face various societal and familial challenges we need to overcome, apart from pressures at the workspace. These factors play a role in determining the confidence that women have. As a female entrepreneur, I have faced challenges pertaining to my self-confidence and asserting myself. These issues have stemmed from the constant reassurance from third parties that I would be taken care of- whether by my colleagues at my company, my family, and others. Once I began the journey of being an entrepreneur, I deliberately worked to negate these thoughts and work on my self-confidence. Initially, it was daunting to face these challenges, however, the confidence I received from working on projects from end to end by myself helped me tackle this.

Akriti Khatri, Founder at Venus Detective Agency

Akriti Khatri, Founder at Venus Detective Agency
Akriti Khatri, Founder at Venus Detective Agency

When I began my career in the detective field it was a male-dominant space, I had to face a lot of troubles on a daily basis in order to move up the ladder and I understood that after some time this would not be possible for me to continue working in such an environment, so I left and began working from grass root level with ‘Venus Detective’… though it was not easy at the start yes I feel accomplished to be at the position that I am in today and there is a long way forward. There are different challenges we face as 0-woman entrepreneurs. Firstly, the financial issues, in the beginning, there were many ups and downs, but it never led me to drop my idea and move with the rush. I had to do something, which would be difficult for others. At last, my family raised funds for me and helped me to begin the startup. The second is time management, as a woman, we have to make sure we reach on time at home. Thirdly, it is the support of family and society that is the most important to have respect for your profession from others. Many times, we are at a place, which is not good and safe for us, so we have to take many precautions against it.

Srishti Baweja, Director at E2E Networks

Srishti Baweja, Director at E2E Networks
Srishti Baweja, Director at E2E Networks

Balancing responsibilities is a major challenge. As a spouse, mother, and entrepreneur, at one point, it seemed impossible to do well in each role. Seeking help from other people/family members and learning to delegate tasks and building a support system has helped me to overcome these challenges gradually. Through these tough times, women who have achieved success, like Indra Nooyi, inspired me and have been guiding light to keep myself on the right path of progress and improvement.

Vishakha Chawla, founder at Vishakha Chawla Interiors

Vishakha Chawla, founder at Vishakha Chawla Interior
Vishakha Chawla, founder at Vishakha Chawla Interiors

In the field of Interior Design, challenges are thrown at you last minute. In the start, it was difficult for people to take orders from women, follow my instructions, and get the work done. Since it requires a team of people, from supervisors to workers to get the work done. I did find it difficult at the start, but with time and dedication I came out as a stronger professional. With time I was able to find like-minded people, and form a team for work association.

Malika Sadani, Founder & CEO at The Moms Co

Malika Sadani, Founder & CEO at The Moms Co
Malika Sadani, Founder & CEO at The Moms Co

When we started, it was difficult for me to get people to align with our vision. We wanted to create Natural, Toxin-Free products that adhered to the toughest global safety standards, and convincing partners on the same was often tough. I remember being questioned on if I was going to run the company alone or how would I find the time to do this with young kids. Over the last 3 years, we have come a long way. People have now started believing in my vision of creating high-quality products that don’t compromise on the safety of any ingredient or product we make.

The world is full of men trying to build businesses around women’s needs. Women understand other women’s needs better, it’s time they create businesses for the same.

Nirupama Subramanian, CoFounder at GLOW

Nirupama Subramanian, CoFounder at GLOW
Nirupama Subramanian, CoFounder at GLOW 

One challenge is to stay motivated in the face of failures and uncertainty. It is not always easy to manage family commitments and work commitments, especially if you don't have a system to support you or a boss to whom you can delegate upwards. Another challenge is to keep stepping out of your comfort zone by yourself. I create my own work and set my own pace so I do have to push myself on some days. Sometimes, there is self-doubt and anxiety about the outcomes.
One of the ways I manage this is by connecting to purpose. My purpose of enabling leaders, especially women, and creating inclusive cultures keeps me motivated. Another way I manage the challenges is by constantly reflecting and calibrating my progress.  A simple thing I do is to create a daily list of Must Do activities along with long-term goals. Meeting other women entrepreneurs also helps to get inspiration and energy.

Meghna Kishore, Co-founder Greendigo

Meghna Kishore, Co-founder Greendigo
Meghna Kishore, Co-founder Greendigo

We never view ourselves as women in an industry dominated by men. We are passionate about making organic clothing the new normal and strive hard to have a voice in the industry.

We believe that building something worthwhile involves a lot of knocking on doors. One needs to persevere and be determined while constantly gaining knowledge so that “challenges” can actually be seen as “opportunities”. Having said so, the first and the biggest hurdle that we encountered was to set up a clean, sustainable, tight loop, and reliable supply chain. Manufacturers often do not entertain start-ups since they fail to meet the MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity). Also, given that organic clothing for kids is still a relatively nascent category in India, there are only a handful of manufacturers whose supply chain is end-to-end compliant with the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). Our first big setback actually was encountering a manufacturer who believed in greenwashing and tried coaxing us to follow suit. Since his ideology was not in line with our belief in building an authentic, sustainable and organic brand, we took a business call to delay our go-to-market date rather than do what was not in line with our ethics and principles.

San Banerjee, CEO & Founder at ADDA

San Banerjee, CEO & Founder at ADDA
San Banerjee, CEO & Founder at ADDA

If I went to meet someone along with a male colleague, they would usually assume the male colleague is senior to me. They would continually address him almost ignoring me until they got my visiting card. More of an amusement than a challenge.

Bhawana Bhatnagar, Founder at Casa Exotique

Bhawana Bhatnagar, Founder at Casa Exotique
Bhawana Bhatnagar, Founder at Casa Exotique

Being a woman entrepreneur isn’t easy, and it’s far from the deep-rooted belief that women crave stability and a secure environment, but you don’t do it because it’s easy, you do it because it’s your passion. Women usually have to deal with family pressure, but I have been very lucky in this regard as my parents were very supportive throughout the process and allowed me to chase my dreams. Even choosing to leave my corporate job to become an entrepreneur was a big decision, but they stood with me like a rock.

The notion that Indian society is gender-biased isn’t without a modicum of truth, but in my experience, it exists only if you let it. If you keep working hard with dedication, you’ll eventually gain the respect that you deserve. It would have been much tougher to be a woman entrepreneur a couple of decades ago, but society is evolving and more and more women are finding their way to leadership positions. It will hopefully make things much easier for the new seed of women entrepreneurs.

Aditi Olemann, Co-founder at Myelin Foundry

Aditi Olemann, Co-founder at Myelin Foundry
Aditi Olemann, Co-founder at Myelin Foundry

The biggest challenge for a woman entrepreneur is to get her voice heard and her capabilities taken seriously. If you look at the startup ecosystem today, the number of funded startups with women founders is still very low. This may be a vicious cycle where the lack of confidence of the industry in women founders makes them hesitant to ask for big investments. It is important to break the cycle and a few strong examples in the industry would help remove the inherent bias, and increase the confidence levels women have to take big entrepreneurial risks.

Dr. Prerna Taneja, Director at Clinic Eximus

Dr. Prerna Taneja, Director at Clinic Eximus
Dr. Prerna Taneja, Director at Clinic Eximus

When you take up your life as a women entrepreneurs definitely there are a lot of challenges that we have to face from the very first step. Firstly, because of the mindset of the people. A lot of people don't like to be bossed around by women and they feel that they get intimidated a lot. They have a perception that women can not do anything alone or a woman doesn't have much knowledge to lead a company or these are things women are naturally not possessed with! This is the toughest and also the most challenging thing that we need to fight even before stating our idea or concept of business. As a mother and entrepreneur, I have to stretch myself extra thin to work out the pressure to support and also fulfill the demands of both. I think believing in yourself, managing time, and prioritizing your work will help you to go long way. So, keep faith in yourself and move in your life to get what you desire, and don't give up on your dream as it is not the solution to any of your problems.

Madhura Moulik, Co-Founder at Skilfinity

Madhura Moulik, Co-Founder at Skilfinity
Madhura Moulik, Co-Founder at Skilfinity

There are more internal challenges than external ones. Most of the external challenges are not really gender-related but some obstacles every entrepreneur might have faced. Coming from a patriarchal society the biggest challenge for me was decision making. Most Indian women are not really the final decision-makers in their household, and that sometimes hinders us to make prompt and crucial decisions that are expected from the head of the business.

Early failure of the decisions is important. While you learn to overcome those failures, you gain the confidence to stand by your future decisions. The key is to overcome this mental barrier and start trusting your instincts.

Yogita Tulsiani, CEO at iXceed Solutions

Yogita Tulsiani, CEO at iXceed Solutions
Yogita Tulsiani, CEO at iXceed Solutions

Challenges:

  • Managing remote globally located teams
  • Balancing family/kids with work. They are informative years and  need extra help with school work/emotional support etc
  • Acceptance of myself as an entrepreneur within the community
  • Cultural and societal barriers to woman entrepreneurs

How did I solve them:

  • Explored mentorship and networking opportunities
  • Time management is the key
  • Working on weekends to cope up.
  • Adopt a set of best practices that will benefit female business owners
  • A central repository to coordinate resources and efforts

Prashanti Malisetti, CEO and Founder at Pixel Pictures

Prashanti Malisetti, CEO and Founder at Pixel Pictures
Prashanti Malisetti, CEO and Founder at Pixel Pictures

The image of a producer is often clichéd for one imagines them to be a man dressed in a suit, wearing a couple of gold chains with a briefcase full of cash. This is because most entertainment companies are dominated by men. There are people to judge you on the basis of the clothes you wear, the way you look.

I didn’t do anything and that’s what I did. I have kept a low profile. There were times when people didn’t know I was a producer till the finale for they would see me dressed up fancily and doing all kinds of work on set. I made sure that they believe it’s the worldview and work ethic that defines people and the respect they earn through hard work and not by the way they look or what they wear.

Dr Malini Saba, Founder & Chairman, Saba Group & Anannke Foundations

Malini Saba - Founder & Chairman, Saba Group & Anannke Foundations
Malini Saba - Founder & Chairman, Saba Group & Anannke Foundations

In the last 30 years, working in a male-dominated industry, there have been instances of not being taken seriously, being deemed "high-risk" by potential funders, being denied access to networks, education, social expectations, and mentors, and the list goes on.

The biggest hurdle was getting others to believe me and help raise funds or debt. They felt I didn't understand the commodities market, so they would give me lip service, consider my proposal, but politely decline and say come back when you have sales. I decided to take a loan and used my credit cards to build it out. Essentially, I used all of my life savings to purchase the first few concessions for gold and iron ore and move head.

The third knock from the universe was the worst; the funds we were expecting never showed up and that put us in such a bad place. It was followed by the markets tanking and price volatility. It was a nightmare, but I believed in myself, my dream, and the vision. My savings came into play once more. But now when I look back, it was all worth it.

Amarpreet Rai, Co-Founder & Director of Operations and Development, Sanrai International

Amarpreet Rai - Co-Founder & Director of Operations and Development, Sanrai International
Amarpreet Rai - Co-Founder & Director of Operations and Development, Sanrai International

All entrepreneurs face their own set of challenges. Sanrai is in the medical industry, which is historically a male dominated industry. Because of that, it is difficult to be taken seriously in high-level meetings or discussions. You can always tell when someone has written you off before you even start talking. When this happens, I think it's best to build trust by explaining who you are and why you’ve been successful in a friendly but firm manner. To be taken seriously, women need to consider how to share information without coming across as too aggressive or boastful.  Sometimes it works and other times, people just simply don’t want to work with you. In these cases, we pivot and try something else. Luckily, I've found a team and partners who don't have these biases, which is a trend the world is moving towards more and more.

Priyanka Madnani, Founder & CEO, Easy to Pitch

Thanks to patriarchy nothing has ever been easy for us women.  Women-owned businesses are still in the minority not only in India but across the globe, and the difficulties faced by women who have embraced entrepreneurship are vast and often very different from those experienced by their male counterparts. We are seen as house makers hence when we run a business it is believed that we don’t have the potential. We face a major problem in funding, and we are judged for every move that we make. We need society to trust, we can do whatever we dream of with the support of society.

Disha Singh, Founder & CEO, Zouk

At Zouk, the biggest challenge, in the beginning, was to convince artisans to work with me as a woman founder. They were so conditioned to work with male leaders that it was strange for them. But when they saw the passion which I shared for the products we made together, it became fine. That really helped both sides grow, in terms of quality and quantity of products made over the years.

Somali Singh, Co-Founder, Teknofeet


The problem starts with calling us ‘women entrepreneurs’ every entrepreneur should be referred equally and that’s how the journey from being an women entrepreneur to entrepreneur could be bridged! I feel like the representation of women in entrepreneurship needs to be encouraged by just not providing financial assistance but a strong peer to peer connect and creating a strong network of women irrespective of the quantum of their business.

Devidutta Dash, Founder, Lemme Be

As a woman entrepreneur, we always have to walk one step ahead to stand equal to the other counterparts in business. I aspire to bring about a period revolution, not just in India, but also globally and as a result I am building Lemme Be, young India’s period care brand. My struggles include people being hesitant about having a period conversation. For years, we’ve been preaching that periods are natural but still we’re awkward talking about it. Having open conversations, even with our stakeholders, was a challenge at one point. I have always been a fierce career-oriented person, never looked back since the day I started my entrepreneurial journey. Negative comments and discouragements followed, but my ambitions were stronger than that.

Anchal Kadam and Arpan Mahtani - Co-founders, Carat Crush

Though women are the ones who wear & enjoy jewellery, the jewellery business in India has always been very male centric. Entering this space as two young women entrepreneurs hasn’t been easy. Every step of the way we have had to prove ourselves.

As women we strive to excel as homemakers and professional entrepreneurs, both being full time jobs, juggling them everyday can be a challenge. Throwing into the mix being a young mom, you can sometimes feel guilty for leaving your little one at home whilst you’re trying to fulfill your professional dreams. Hopefully one day, when they grow up they will be proud of who their mom is and what she has achieved, both at home and at work.

Radhika Lavu, Founder & MD, Ellanar Films

Women of today are shaping the bright future of tomorrow. They are revolutionizing various verticals of businesses and working assiduously to fulfill the multiple roles they play. Entrepreneurship is a fulfilling but arduous job. Women entrepreneurs face the challenge of running a business while continuing to excel in their various other responsibilities. Without time management, multitasking can become very strenuous. But the fierce women of today are accepting every challenge head-on and breaking every barrier within the world of entrepreneurship. The female population of this generation has been pioneering the concept of entrepreneurship by raising the bar of it and leading by example. Not only that, but they are breaking the stereotypes and introducing groundbreaking opportunities and results. They are challenging the concepts of women leadership and the preconceived reservations about women in workforces. They are ferociously entering all sectors and succeeding through their trailblazing performances. While wearing different hats, and balancing the different responsibilities at home and work, they are evolving our businesses and society simultaneously. These are the women of today. Their resilience in challenging the stereotypes and proving that they are just as talented and skilled, if not more, is paving a smoother path for the future generation of female entrepreneurs and leaders. They are inspiring the women of tomorrow and leading by example that women are capable, strong, and efficient in all that they do. These women are the ones who are the backbone of our businesses and our communities. We applaud these women.

Anamika Pandey, Founder, Naario

Physical, Emotional, Monetary, Social, you name it. As an entrepreneur the biggest risk you take is betting on yourself. The challenges one faces are a fallout of this risk.

When you are a female entreprenuer, the risk sort of doubles because you  are not just betting on yourself but also going against prevalent societal norms of a woman relying on her better half to venture out and make money or a woman sticking to traditional career options like that of a teacher or HR. When a woman decides she wants to start her entrepreneurial journey, she is not starting from ground zero. She's starting from the negative end of this scale. She has to convince herself and her family that she is going to do something that a very very few other women have done and she's going to be okay. She has to ensure that she doesn't run out of working capital given very very few women entrepreneurs secure any funding or monetary support. She has to toughen herself up against everything she'll be judged on. Be it talking to vendors or doing client meetings in a cafe. She has to show up everyday despite all these challenges and more.

Sylvia Hii, Founder & CEO, DAP Group of Companies

The number of female entrepreneurs is increasing. Regardless of the outcomes, women are fighting to succeed in business due to the multiple challenges they face from all angle throughout the journey. As of 2017, more than 11 million U.S. businesses were owned by women, employing nearly 9 million people and generating $1.7 trillion in sales, according to the National Association of Women Business Owners.  Not all business owners are fortunate enough to have an investor or financier for their new venture. Women's enterprises are among the most prominent endeavours that do not receive financial backing. Women are frequently fail to secure any loans due to gender and cultural biases—many institutions prefer to support male-owned firms. Many women have kids, marriages, and other roles in addition to being entrepreneurs or professionals. Demands from personal and professional responsibilities might put a woman under pressure to give up her business or her family. The family expects her to be a mother and wife, while the business wants her to be a leader and demonstrate devotion. It gets more challenging for people who do not have social support since they must bear the full weight on their own. Some women are able to manage these two aspects of their lives, while others are completely overwhelmed.

Meenakshi Dubey, Co-Founder, Yes!poho

Women are often regarded as goddesses in our country and have been put up high on a pedestal as per our culture; however, people tend to forget that when working in a professional sphere. Women are put in gender-based moulds and fall victim to stereotypes, especially when it comes to running a business. We are constantly asked if we are sure of our decision or the calls we make, and then our decisions are put on a sceptical sword, dissecting and judging every action of ours. From vendors to our competitors in the market undermine our endeavours due to a "gender". Being in a business that is not only supportive of the art of apparels and weaving but also transforming our legacy to business - has made us more prone to being subjected to stereotypes. But that has also inspired us to hold our ground and roar fiercely as we slay it in the markets, profitability and growth in general.

Pragati Agarwala, Partner, Three Fourth Solutions

When we women set out to start something of our own, we're often faced with a mountain of hurdles that our male counterparts don't, a few of those being -

  • Lack of Access to professional networks: A strong network and a well structured team are crucial  for the success of an entrepreneur, but due to the longstanding norm of women traditionally being home, their social bubbles stay limited. Even today, nearly 48% of female businesswomen have reported not having confidants or a guide through their journeys.
  • Lack of Work-life balance: Women across the world, are expected to play a larger part in managing household and taking care of their family. Running a business means long hours and thus, for women work-life balance can become a problem.ponses -
  • Defying social expectations: In our society, most women who set out to make their own path (including me) face this - with most industries and sectors being male dominated, the path to the top, or even to be considered taken seriously is rocky. At the beginning of my journey as well, there was a lot of backlash that I had to deal with because I was leaving behind a cushy job and try running a PR firm in a city where its understanding was barely present, without any backup plan.

Ms.Ankita Dabas, Global CMO & Chief India Business Officer, LaunchMyCareer

Women in India face challenges in both the environments, i.e., in the family and external/ workplace biases. India has not been the leader in gender equality, this needs to change at a quick pace. Many of the families in India are not very comfortable with letting the women of their family work. Most of the women are expected to multitask, manage their families, and work-life simultaneously. This has always been one of the biggest roadblocks in the entrepreneurial journey of women. Women are expected to do more and have a work-life balance. In most cases, a woman requires a nod from their family members to explore a career for themselves. Apart from these internal biases, biases at the workplace are no surprises. A woman leader has to prove her creditability at more junctions, women leaders in many places or sectors are not taken seriously. Restricting the unconscious biases is the first step forward towards achieving a gender-equal society.

Naina Ruhail, Founder, Vanity Wagon

Despite our efforts to constantly make it big, somewhere or the other, we are always judged for what we do. Starting off with the first and very basic challenge that most women face is on the fundamental level. Lack of support from the immediate family members, peers or environment. The absence of a proper support system might shake their confidence and their ability to move forward. Women are often expected and pressured to stick to traditional gender roles. Leading an entrepreneurial life and balancing familial responsibilities is one of the most common challenges businesswomen face. If we look at it from the financial aspect, it is an ugly truth that the funding scene also has massive gender biases. But stronger women are coming forward and breaking the bias, one at a time.

Ms. Sharmilee Agrawal Kapur, Co-Founder, Atmantan Wellness Centre

Today due to the pandemic, most entrepreneurs have faced insurmountable challenges and we have all been set back by a year or two. The government reliefs did make sure that many like us could keep our doors open, and the spirit of entrepreneurship in us Indians stayed alive.

While every day now seems to be better than the last two years,  for us entrepreneurs, the challenges still never end. Some challenges propel us forward and some create a permanent dent in our spirit; this is when we must all go back to the 'why' of what we do, and gain strength and passion to carry forward.

For us it was always about providing transformative wellness, and wellness has never been more seeked or relevant than in these current times. Challenges came in form of creating a safety bubble for people at Atmantan, restricting team strength to those staying in-house, restricting team & guest movement for safety, staying open through the ongoing waves etc. Our team and we tried our best to stay focused on the bigger picture... We had people coming to us who wanted to get better, who believed in our integrated wellness approach and were receptive to wellness!

Their miraculous transformations give us the strength to continue every day! The fact is that my team & I are always grateful that our job is to help and support others get well.

Sargam Dhawan Bhayana, Founder & Director, Tressmart

Women have always faced challenges, especially in the business world. Even though things are changing gradually, the general male dominated mindset remains. Most people don’t take women entrepreneurs as seriously as they should, and the opinion usually is that a woman’s career should be treated as a hobby and not a full-fledged career. Being taken seriously in a male dominated business world is always a struggle.

The other challenge faced very often is that most women don’t have property on their names to use as collateral, so funding from conventional sources like banks is always a problem, making it difficult for women entrepreneurs to raise funds for their business. Women entrepreneurs have a long way to go before their roles are fully recognised in society.

In spite of the fact that women are extremely successful in the boardroom, women owned businesses are still in the minority because of the hurdles faced whilst raising capital to start or expand businesses.

Hopefully, in the times to come, women entrepreneurs will come together as a community and start supporting one another, so less women give up on their entrepreneurial dreams.

Shreya Sharma, C.E.O and Founder, Rest The Case

People usually have a hard time placing trust in a women and difficulty seeing them as an authority figure. I have personally faced instances where a male employee has questioned my directions but has readily accepted the exact same suggestions from  another man in my team.

Ankita Thadani, Co founder, Secret Alchemist

What could be a bigger challenge than adding the word “women” in front of entrepreneurs?

Why is entrepreneur such a male dominated club that we must specify in articles about “women entrepreneurship “.

Women entrepreneurs, face as many challenges as their male counterparts after climbing the mountain of defying the social norms and expectations. The pressure of work life balance somehow takes a deeper toll on women’s health. Lack of access to funding, gender stereotyping, inadequate support system, may deter some women on taking up this challenge of entrepreneurship, which is a humongous task for all sexes.

Ms. Heena Sehrawat, CEO, Geetanjali Miarcle Makers

Entrepreneurship has become a very lucrative career option for talented people in India and many people including women are opting for it in different sectors. But, despite the government's efforts and appropriate measures to promote gender equality, the entrepreneurship space is being dominated by men. This can be attributed to the challenges women have to face if they choose entrepreneurship. There are fewer sectors that are women-friendly. The majority of the big sectors like manufacturing and construction are being dominated by men. Women also find it difficult to get proper guidance from reputed mentors. This happens because the industry veterans don't believe in women's capabilities. Apart from that, there are poor funding prospects for women as investors are reluctant to invest in women-led businesses while banks consider women less credit-worthy. Still today, women are expected to stick to traditional gender roles like domestic chores. Women have limited mobility options, or there are restrictions. They can't travel alone and stay in a hotel due to safety reasons. These are some of the major challenges that badly affect the growth of women in India’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Neha Bagaria, Founder & CEO, JobsForHer

Neha-Bagaria - Founder, JobsForHer
Neha-Bagaria - Founder, JobsForHer

Each role that I have played, especially since starting JobsForHer seven years ago, has a symbiotic relationship with the other with lessons from being a mother helping my entrepreneurial journey, and vice versa.

I was also a young mother who had a desire to get back to work but when I saw that hundreds of women in the country were also going through the same challenges, starting a venture like JobsForHer was the best thing that has happened to me as a mother, as an entrepreneur and as a woman!

As a woman entrepreneur, the biggest challenge is to understand and address unique problems faced by women and curate specific solutions to address them. To ensure that as a platform, JobsForHer leverages technology to offer solutions to each and every woman no matter what her struggles are, and to make sure that we’re offering them the best in career opportunities, mentorship and reskilling, we’ve scaled up the venture significantly since its inception in 2015.

Conclusion

Women as entrepreneurs are seen as a myth and that's because of the many obstacles they have to face in their careers, but these women have faced the odds and come out stronger on the other side! Hope this inspires you to really look into entrepreneurship as a viable career option!


Women Entrepreneurs on Why They Chose Entrepreneurship
It is Sunday. You wake up in the morning, as usual and grab the newspaper to gothrough the headlines and you are pleasingly surprised to know that SBI iswilling to step up and invest in the already troubled Yes Bank. Well, this maysound like any other acquisition news but there’s something differ…

FAQs

What are the major challenges faced by the women entrepreneurs?

The key challenges faced by entrepreneurs are financial arrangement, raw material shortages, stiff competition, restricted mobility, family relations, education shortages, male-dominated society, and low-risk capacity, among others.

Why are there fewer female entrepreneurs?

The primary reasons for low female entrepreneurship rates are unconscious discrimination and insufficient trust in business skills, difficult access to finances and networks, a lack of family support and child care opportunities, and inadequate workplace and public space protection.

Why is female entrepreneurship important?

Female entrepreneurship is essential for any country's economic growth as more and more women join the workforce. It narrows the prevalent gender gap and makes the office environment more passive, trickling down the effect of social change.

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