Encouraging women’s entrepreneurship in India – Triple track for growth
Women’s Entrepreneurship Day is coming up and will be celebrated in Delhi-NCR on 16th November. Women’s entrepreneurship is a subject of great importance to the economy. As a percentage, women form a very small minority of all entrepreneurs in India. This is because of significant financial and societal barriers that face women entrepreneurs as they begin contemplating a business journey.
However, their increased involvement in entrepreneurship would lead to many significant advancements in the Indian economy. Their increased participation as entrepreneurs would see huge rises in GDP, increased opportunities for labor force participation for other women and a benefit to society at large.
It has been demonstrated that women entrepreneurs give back to society and value environmental concerns more than their male counterparts. In a rapidly changing society that needs community and environmental issues addressed, a growth in the number of women entrepreneurs is only a positive. Their aspirations should be encouraged and they should be given the same opportunities and space to find their feet when it comes to entrepreneurship as in any other aspect of life.
In light of this, I believe there are steps that can be taken to encourage women’s entrepreneurship in the country. They are listed below in my ‘Triple track for growth’.
1. Women entrepreneurs have the Mahila Bank and Bandhan Bank supporting their endeavors and I wanted to suggest to banks and institutions with women chiefs to consider setting up crowdfunding platforms with the help of GlobalLinker. This can support innovation, startups, hesitant entrepreneurs to help test their ideas. Worldwide, many such platforms exist but there isn’t one in India yet.
2. Companies Act on CSR Sec 135 Schedule VII provides for 2% of net profit spend on CSR activities by listed companies. The forums here and the program in Delhi may consider persuading the corporates which are listed and others to commit at least 25% of the sum for skill development of women entrepreneurs and the creation of Incubation centers and accelerators.
3. Women entrepreneurs need priority treatment when they choose to become social entrepreneurs. That is when they choose to start a Sec8/ Sec 25 company and set up a trust/ NGO / skill development institute etc. They should be given priority by the various ministries concerned for e.g. if they have lined up a foreign donor the process of granting FCRA should be made less complicated and if they have a portal where they invite foreign donors to contribute in foreign currency for the cause they stand for and do advocacy – they should be given swift approvals.
I have met many aspiring women entrepreneurs who have had inhibitions about starting a business but are now in charge of thriving businesses and social enterprises. Women are a big part of the future of business in the country with significant GDP growth projected with their increased participation in the economy. Despite their immense potential, women do face unique hurdles on the path to becoming entrepreneurs and my ‘Triple track for growth’ is one way to ensure that they are given the opportunities they deserve.
To explore business opportunities, link with me by clicking on the ‘Invite’ button on my eBiz Card.
This week, the Paradise Papers released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and its partners, showed us how the rich and powerful are able to hide and hoard their wealth through complex and opaque financial structures.
The sheer volume of the Paradise Papers documents (13.4million in all) hints at a vast, secret parallel financial universe where the reporting requirements that the rest of us are subject to do not apply.
Public figures, such as the Queen and US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, are shown to have hidden offshore investments, while companies involved include household names such as Apple, Nike and Uber.
You might think: “So what? This isn’t necessarily illegal.”
Well, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be concerned.
The documents show that even the compliance manager at offshore law firm Appleby found plenty to worry about, like large amounts of money that were “definitely tainted”, and proceeds of alleged corruption infiltrating the business.
They reveal activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo by mining giant Glencore, which appears to have secured under-valued extraction licenses with the help of a powerful lobbyist that it loaned $45million to.
The documents also reveal how the company that manages Angola’s sovereign wealth fund used this money to finance its other projects. And how Kazakhstan’s former oil minister built up a vast personal fortune obscured behind a labyrinthine network of companies held by a corporation called Meridian.
“This was possible, in part, thanks to Kazakhstan’s notorious corruption and weak rule of law,” write the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. “But it was the Meridian founders’ exploitation of the international financial system that enabled them to hide their riches from the eyes of their own people.”
That’s the problem here, and that’s why we’re calling for tougher controls on the offshore financial markets.
Secrecy can lead to corruption, and the kinds of structures exposed in the Paradise Papers are the tools of the trade that the corrupt use to launder their ill-gotten gains.