During this difficult time of Corona virus outbreak, how can we as women cope better and support each other? Check our special feed and learn more!

Women & Entrepreneurship In India

Posted: June 27, 2012
Women’s Web examines the rise of Women Entrepreneurs in India and brings you the details about why, where and how successful are these Indian Women Entrepreneurs.

By Aparna V. Singh

Everywhere you look, there is an Indian woman in the pursuit of the entrepreneurial dream. Women have always been involved in small, usually home-based businesses but this is different. We are more visible, we are more ambitious and we hear more women talking about building businesses, not just earning an income.

What is driving so many women to start businesses? What challenges do they face? What helps them succeed? Does gender enter the entrepreneur’s mind at all? These were only some of the questions we had, and out of that emerged the Women’s Web Women & Entrepreneurship in India 2012 Study.

The study was conducted online between June 1st and 20th and we received responses from 114 women entrepreneurs across the country. Below are the results, which will be of interest to entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs-in-the-making, mentors, advisors, funding firms and anyone with an interest in the story of women and entrepreneurship in India.

Women entrepreneurs in India: Who, where, how big?

A significant chunk (58%) of the entrepreneurs we surveyed had started their businesses between the ages of 20 and 30; interestingly, 25% had started up even before turning 25. It raises the possibility of at least some women starting up businesses without first holding a job, right after their education. As expected, most were either graduates or post-graduates.

Women entrepreneurs India, age and educationWhich cities are producing India’s women entrepreneurs?

Bangalore leads all other cities head and shoulders in the presence of women entrepreneurs. Kolkata is the only absentee large metro (tucked away under ‘others’), with all the others such as Chennai, the National Capital Region (NCR), Pune, Mumbai and Hyderabad figuring in the list.

As for industry type, Professional services, IT/ITES, Apparel/accessories and Food & Beverages are the four major sectors in which women own businesses (59% of those surveyed).

Women entrepreneurs in India, city and industryThe majority of women-owned businesses are micro-enterprises or small/mid-sized businesses, with 73% reporting a revenue of under Rs.10,00,000 (Rs. Ten lakh or One million) in the last financial year.

Corresponding to this, the majority had under 5 employees (71%).

Women entrepreneurs in India, business sizeWomen starting businesses: Motivation and capital

57% of women entrepreneurs had started their businesses alone, while 35% had a co-founder and 8% were part of teams that involved more than 2 co-founders.

What drove women to start businesses? The opportunity to work more creatively and the perceived benefit of being one’s own boss were the top reasons chosen. While work-life balance was also chosen (by 36%), that was not the biggest reason for women turning entrepreneurs, as is commonly perceived.

Women entrepreneurs in India motivation60% of women entrepreneurs started their business with a capital of under Rs.1,00,000, and personal funds and savings were used to start the business in a majority of cases. However, 30% of those surveyed stated that they had used more 1 source of funding.

Women Entrepreneurs in India investment

Women entrepreneurs in India: Challenges, support, joys, goals

We asked women entrepreneurs to pick their challenges, both at the time of starting up and at present; they are not the same. Financial and Marketing related challenges emerge as the top pick at both times. People challenges however are stronger at present than while starting up indicating that as teams grow, so do the challenges associated with them. Personal challenges (bandwidth/time management) however, drastically taper off suggesting that women’s confidence in their own abilities as entrepreneurs has grown with the experience.

Women entrepreneurs in India, ChallengesAs for support in their entrepreneurial journey, besides friends and family (the top choices), the growing importance of the entrepreneurial community is reflected in the fact that 26% mentioned other entrepreneurs and entrepreneur groups. 23% also mentioned mentors and advisors.

Perhaps my personal favourite among all the charts that emerged from this survey is the one below. When asked what was the biggest benefit they had derived from starting up their businesses, this is what women had to say.

Women entrepreneurship in India, benefitsOn the question of goals, the majority chose growth and profitability related goals (81 and 53% respectively). This may not directly answer the question of whether women entrepreneurs want to scale up their businesses or not, but it does indicate that women’s businesses are not just hobbies or ‘lifestyle businesses’, as sometimes alleged.

Women entrepreneurs in India, GoalsWe received a total of 107 responses on what would help them achieve these goals, and the ones listed most often were recruiting skilled people (21%) and funding or financial support (20%).

Women Entrepreneurs achieving goalsGender & Entrepreneurship

Finally, we asked our respondents to consider the question of entrepreneurship through the prism of gender. What did they believe? In short: Yes, it is harder to start a business if you are a woman (55%). Yes, knowing other women who run businesses is a big support (73%). Yes, being a woman impacts decisions on how large/fast the business should grow (52%). On the question of whether a female mentor was better for women entrepreneurs, opinion was more divided.

Gender and entrepreneurship in IndiaThe Women’s Web Women & Entrepreneurship in India 2012 Study has been a great opportunity for us to look inside this wonderful, brave world of women pushing the boundaries. I would like to thank here the many people and groups who helped us by sharing it with their networks, especially The Hatch, Your Story, The Open Coffee Club, Bangalore, the HEN network and bloggers Kanupriya Sindhu and Unmana.

Please do share the story on your social networks and help us get the word out to more people!

Women's Web is a vibrant community for Indian women, an authentic space for us

Learn More

What is Domestic Violence & How to report domestic Violence - घरेलु हिंसा से बचाव (in Hindi)



  1. Find your chart very very inspiring!!!

  2. This is great

  3. Great study, very well presented.

  4. true facts entrepreneurship , very much motivating !



  6. good work womens web! would love to read more such analytical studies!

  7. The study that you have presented is very detailed and all the more inspiring for working women like us. I was going through another site on the same lines which spoke on how mothers are rising as entrepreneurs. With love they are called “Mompreneurs”. Sharing the link with you. Hope you enjoy reading it: http://smallbusinessindia.intuit.in/general/mompreneurs%E2%80%94the-rise-mother-entrepreneurs-india/.

  8. Interesting findings

  9. Excellent share!

    I run my own Training Business at http://www.trainism.com/ & I must say that your findings to the subject is so true!

    I am sure it is also inspiring for a lot of young leaders!


  10. The charts are indeed very inspiring, we do not need a backbone support to be independent, its all at the power to dream big and smart…..

  11. Wonderful &inspiring

  12. Quite inspiring

  13. Nice post.. You have covered almost all points.. Even i am an Entrepreneur and i went through similar set of challenges while starting up my business. I approached MoneyChat India, they were of great help… 🙂
    I wish luck to all my friends.

    • Great article! Can I please get in touch with the person who has compiled this data analysis? I am working on the market research part of my business plan and would really appreciate some help.

    • Hi Sampada, could you please share your experience and suggest some guidelines to successfully acquire finances required for the initial set-up?

  14. Really…VERY NICE POST

  15. Today, there are a lot of women entrepreneurs emerging into Industry sectors and its the society’s responsibility to motivate them and to provide support in all terms. Attention women entrepreneurs, Please refer to this website for valuable services and assistance http://www.karthiknandyal.com/moneychatbeta

  16. I so agree with this.. I work for a firm called SmartQ. It gives an amazing oppurtunity to women who would like to do something but cant spend much time due to family occupancies or something else. http://www.smartq.co.in

  17. It was really a good share …i have started my own business with greentrends (hair & style salon) in chennai.it is indeed a turning point of my life. now i am getting 2 lakhs of business net on a monthly basis.its a good opportunity for womoen

  18. this really helped me for my seminar work thank u and pls update many-more things so tht we all wil be motivated to be an entrepreneur…….

  19. I too agree with this. I have started my own IT Company in Madurai with website design, logo design, mobile development services and so on. High growing level and planned to start a new branch office at Coimbatore. I hope I will become in the top list. Nice post.

  20. Inviting Women Entrepreneurs to join Manthan Award for a workshop session by Google ‘Women Entrepreneurs on the web’… ENTRY FREE. Register yourself now at http://www.manthanaward.org

  21. dattatray bagade -

    Very good study and presentation.

  22. My name is S.Indira I am running Poor people education Socoety In Andhra pradesh at chittoor Dist.so many training conducted in rural areas downtrodden women. I have received RSWR 2 times grants. In future my plan to start garments unit. Please any support our organization

  23. good research work!! I am doing a academic project on entrepreneur orientation .women entrepreneurs pls provide your contacts so i can mail you the questionnaire !! your support and cooperation will motivate more studies on women entrepreneurs at doctorate level .

  24. I am a single dentist ,41,unemployed living alone in my flat in Mumbai.i have a computer and internet connection.
    I was working abroad as dentist for ten years,but unable to find a suitable job here.

    I would like to work from home,if possible,manufacturing or internet based,but not marketing.

    please let me know if you have any ideas or whom I can contact.

    I don’t have the money to become a member of tie,fiwe etc.,their membership fees are about rs.3500.

    dr.venus john
    vasai east-401208
    cell no.9158996459 email-venusjohn1972@hotmail.com

  25. i am a reseach scholar doing my research work on the topic role of financial institutions in the development of women entrepreneursip,,somebody among you plz help me in collecting my primary data

  26. Pingback: A Vision For Women Entrepreneurs

  27. Pingback: Why You Should Blog Your Business [Infographic]

  28. Pingback: How to be a Mom entrepreneur in India {New Series}

  29. Wanted educated, enterprising and freelance matured group of ladies for Manufacturing and Selling import substitute product for transfer of technology which is mainly used for ladies personal pleasure. Gross profit is of 200% and still cheep than imported. The market potential is 10 Million per year on all India basis (Minimum ) with export potential too. Contact with detail resume rasabhi2002@rediffmail.com

  30. I am a woman entrepreneur running IT company with excellent business idea,still running out of cash plz help me in getting seed funds for my venture

  31. Thank u so much for such an interesting article which helped me a lot in my research work

  32. Pingback: Reasons for women founders to choose a Co-working Space in Bangalore | StartupHuts

  33. Yes, being an Entrepreneur is tougher for women than it is for men. The difficulties go up a couple of notches when the women entrepreneur is a mother as well. From the usual management issues faced by any entrepreneur, to handling home and children adds to the challenges for Mother’s in business. With all this in mind, we started a network called MompreneursIndia for Mother’s in business. From conducting training programs, upgrading skills, to helping collaborations and connecting Mompreneurs across the country, we at MompreneursIndia have done that and more.
    MompreneursIndia is a wonderful platform for mothers in business to connect with other like-minded and inspiring mothers in business. Check us out at http://www.mompreneursindia.com

  34. Pingback: Get Started – MT100P DICE – OutsideThe Box

Share your thoughts! [Be civil. No personal attacks. Longer comment policy in our footer!]

Stay updated with our Weekly Newsletter or Daily Summary - or both!