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Entrepreneurship Should Be Gender Neutral: Women Panel
‘How the society and its stakeholders can help in nurturing women entrepreneurs’ was the crux of the panel discussion at the BW Businessworld Women Entrepreneurship Summit & Awards
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What kind of support system is required for grooming women as tech entrepreneurs? How can people at home and at work help? How can the government, and other institutions play their respective roles in encouraging women to become tech entrepreneurs? These were some of the questions deliberated in detail at a panel of achievers in the space.
Initiating the discussion, the session chair Ruby Sinha, MD Kommune Brand Communications said: “There are only 14 per cent women entrepreneurs in India and this suggests that there is lack of support from all the stakeholders.” Agreed Rashi Narang Founder, ‘Heads Up for Tails’. “It does have its own challenge but I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. In fact, I did not face much opposition from family – on the contrary, got full family support. However, I didn't have much knowledge about it back then so it was a bumpy ride for me,” Narang said recalling her journey and achievements.
Moving from family support system to the systemic support, Narang said: “There was no policy support when I had started which is there now but the complicated laws make it difficult to manage. We as women are more committed to prove ourselves and that's why an investor should have more faith in us,” said Narang.
Participating in the discussion, Shanu Mehta Co-Founder MMC Convert raised the issue of investors adopting a differential approach towards women compared to the men when it comes to fundraising. “Especially if the woman is from a non-technical background. But for men, they are termed as leaders,” Mehta said terming ‘entrepreneurship’ as a gender-neutral field amidst a round of applause from the audience.
For Parbati Bhattacharya, Director, Wanderers Footprint, the journey was ‘difficult’ to say the least. “…But I did it as I had the vision to do it,” she said. “Across the globe women tend to play different roles side-by-side. But when it comes to financing and funding, it has always been difficult,” said Bhattacharya.
Citing an example of how there is a visible difference between the Urban India and the rest of the country, Sanjeeva Shivesh Founder and CEO of The Entrepreneurship School said: “At least, Urban India is changing rapidly in terms of their mindset“. Shivesh applauded the Women Football League that started recently. However, Shivesh was unhappy with the outcome of the Atal Innovation Mission, a central government initiative to support and encourage home-grown entrepreneurs. “It has not started in the way it should have,” he said. Shivesh cited raising finance as “a major challenge” for the entrepreneurs.