Challenges Confronting Today’s Women Entrepreneurs in India: A Top 7 Overview

Chahna Baksani
Chahna Baksani
Chahna Baksani is the Social Media Manager as well as a Content Writer at The Address. If you ever happen to visit The Address' Ahmedabad offices, do not miss to stop by and say Hi to her.

In the past few years, we’ve come a long way with the number of women entrepreneurs in India. Studies indicate that if women had an equal presence in the formal economy as men, India’s economy could expand by an impressive 60% by 2025, an additional $2.9 trillion.

However, currently, only 14% of businesses in India are led by women. The latest census indicates that of 58.5 million entrepreneurs in India, about 8.05 million (13.76%) are women.

While there has been some growth in the number of women entrepreneurs, it’s been slow and uneven, and more progress is needed.

Image Source: Instamojo

While women-owned enterprises remain in the minority, the challenges confronted by Indian women who embark on modern entrepreneurship are substantial. And they are often distinct from those encountered by their male peers.

Keep reading to learn about the top 7 challenges women entrepreneurs in India face.

Top 7 Hurdles for Women Entrepreneurs in India

When launching and running businesses, women entrepreneurs in India encounter several obstacles. These challenges often deter them from getting started, and many companies either never take off or shut down shortly after opening.

Let’s explore eight of the most prevalent challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in India.

1. Gender Gap in Financing

Accessing funds is crucial for starting a business, but it’s tougher for women entrepreneurs in India. About 90% of them can’t secure financing from traditional institutions because they lack collateral. Traditional practices favored passing property and financial rights to male heirs, leaving women without assets in their name.

Banks and government agencies have yet to be very supportive of women’s business needs, often viewing them as less creditworthy than men. This results in higher interest rates on loans, with women entrepreneurs being 30% more likely to need a guarantor.

Moreover, men-led businesses generally secure more venture capital, while women entrepreneurs often turn to microfinance loans and self-help groups for financial support.

2. Management Challenges and Gender Bias

Gender bias in the business world often surfaces in management roles. Women in such positions may face stereotypes that challenge their authority. What may be seen as confidence in men is sometimes seen as bossiness in women, making it harder for them to assert themselves.

Deep-rooted societal biases still suggest that certain tasks or industries are better suited for men, which can lead to women not receiving the recognition they deserve. When women lead teams with male members, they may struggle to have their instructions taken seriously due to questions about gender-based authority.

Furthermore, the perception that women are less capable can result in unsolicited advice from individuals who believe they know better. This can be frustrating and creates additional challenges for women in management roles.

3. Work-Life Balance Challenges

Balancing work and personal life can be a significant challenge for women entrepreneurs in India due to several key factors:

  • Social Expectations: Traditional gender roles in India often expect women to shoulder most household and caregiving duties. This societal expectation makes it challenging for women entrepreneurs to allocate sufficient time and energy to their businesses and home life.
  • Lack of Family Support: Insufficient family support can hinder a woman’s ability to manage work and home effectively. Limited access to reliable childcare or help from family members further complicates the work-life balance.
  • Meeting Expectations: Women must juggle both family and professional expectations, creating a constant struggle to satisfy everyone.
  • Stress and Burnout: Balancing work and personal life can lead to high levels of stress and burnout, which can have detrimental effects on both health and business performance.

4. Limited Industry Knowledge

Many women entrepreneurs in India face hurdles regarding industry knowledge and opportunities. A significant issue is that successful women entrepreneurs tend to cluster in a few industries like beauty, entertainment, and commerce, while you’ll find fewer women-owned startups in areas like production, technology, or science.

This situation is partly due to persistent gender stereotypes in India, which often label women as the “weaker sex” and suggest that physically demanding tasks are better suited for men. In practical terms, this can limit a woman’s ability to actively engage in certain industries that require hands-on work actively, hindering her progress.

Recruitment can also be a challenge, as women entrepreneurs may struggle to hire women for roles traditionally seen as men’s work, further limiting opportunities for women in various fields.

5. Building a Support Network

For women entrepreneurs in India, a significant challenge is building a solid support network. This challenge has several important aspects.

First, there are few female role models or mentors in various industries. Thus, finding mentors who truly understand the unique challenges women entrepreneurs face can be an arduous task.

Building professional networks can also be demanding, as many existing groups are mostly made up of men. This can leave women feeling isolated and limit their opportunities to connect with others.

Balancing business and family responsibilities can also leave little time for networking. Access to money for attending networking events and professional development is often limited, making it harder to build a support system.

6. Safety Concerns

Safety is a big concern for women entrepreneurs in India, with several important aspects. With increasing crime rates, many women are cautious about taking risks, even in their businesses. Going out in the evening or at night can be tricky.

Safety worries are real because some women have faced domestic violence, sexual assault, or worse, just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This fear of harm affects their decisions, and their families often push them to prioritize safety over their businesses.

Women-owned businesses also face a higher risk of theft and robbery, partly because people think female business owners are more vulnerable. These safety concerns are a major hurdle for women entrepreneurs in India, influencing their choices and limiting their opportunities.

7. Limited Risk-taking

Taking risks is a core component of entrepreneurship, but Indian women often have limited experience due to family obligations and societal norms.

Critical decisions, like where to live or travel, are typically made by husbands or family members, limiting women’s exposure to making tough choices and handling the outcomes.

This lack of independence compared to men makes it challenging for women when making crucial business decisions. While both genders usually seek family counsel and approval before starting a business, men may have more leeway, while women cannot afford the same spontaneity.

In many cases, married women must inform their husbands before investing, even if the funds are accessible. Unmarried and married women may also need to consult with their fathers and brothers.

While Challenges Exist, Women Entrepreneurs Can Still Find Success with The Address

Women entrepreneurs might face specific challenges on their path to success, but the growing number of women-led businesses proves these obstacles can be overcome. Connecting with fellow female entrepreneurs is a great way to build a robust support system, potentially introducing you to women investors interested in supporting your creative ideas. Even in male-dominated industries, being true to yourself and expressing your unique voice can lead to success in business and beyond.

Here At The Address, we understand the unique challenges women entrepreneurs in India face. And we’re here to help you overcome them. Our coworking solutions offer a nurturing and supportive environment beyond the workspace. You’ll become part of a dynamic community, receiving valuable guidance, support, and collaboration opportunities.

Our flexible workspaces and business centers are designed to ignite your creativity, enhance productivity, and prioritize your safety and security. We’re dedicated to providing access to essential resources, hosting enriching networking events, and offering mentorship programs crucial to your success.

Don’t let challenges hold you back. Join The Address and take a step toward achieving your business goals. Your success is our top priority!

Come be a part of shaping the future of entrepreneurship and reaping the rewards of success. Schedule a free tour today!