Women entrepreneurs take the pandemic in their stride
A survey of 350 Indian women entrepreneurs showed that more than half of them have made significant changes to their businesses due to the pandemic and more will follow.
India has anywhere between 13.5 to 15.7 million women-owned businesses, which make up just 20% of the total number of enterprises in the country. Most are single-person operations but helping them survive and grow can generate 150 to 170 million jobs by 2030. The good news is that the pandemic has proven their ability to respond rapidly because they are mostly service-oriented, run of less capital and can adapt faster.
Bain & Co., Google, and AWE Foundation surveyed 350 urban women entrepreneurs and found that 54% of them had already have made strategic changes to their businesses and another 24% were working towards this, saying they would achieve this change by the end of the year. Encouragingly, close to 90% of them said they will be able to survive this crisis and emerge from the other side.
This has been possible because 60% of the businesses made changes to their products and services, supply chains, sales and marketing channels and digital models, while 46% of them focussed on retraining themselves and the staff with new skills. While 20% of them said they were nearly wiped out, a small percentage of them also were able to return to pre-pandemic levels. They were those that could digitise different areas of their businesses very quickly.
Over 73% of them reported a sharp decrease in revenue, attributed to a variety of reasons like lack of customer orders, supply chain disruptions, financial crunch, etc. Another big impact was the personal challenges that came with working from home. 43% of the women said they had become less productive because of increased domestic responsibilities and distraction. Across all spheres and spectrum, women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and it is no different when it comes to business. The government should recognise the potential of women-driven businesses and leverage them to jump-start the economy. They have to be extended more financial and cultural support to start and sustain their businesses. Formal and informal programmes of mentorship can also come a long way in making sure these businesses survive and thrive.