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Entrepreneurial Journey: Navigating Challenges And Opportunities For Young Women – IMPRI Impact And Policy Research Institute

Entrepreneurial Journey of Young Women Navigating Challenges and Opportunities

Session Report
Reetwika Mallick

The Gender Impact Studies Center, at IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi conducted a Two-Month Online National Winter School Program on ‘Young Women Leaders in Public Policy Fellowship’ from January 6th, 2024 to March 8th 2024.

The course, spread over two months, provided a unique opportunity to gain in-depth insight into public policy. The course led by esteemed experts, empowered young women to be effective leaders. Through a combination of engaging lectures, interactive workshops, networking, guidance by thematic experts and practical exercises.

On day 8 of the ‘Young Women Leaders in Public Policy Fellowship’,  Ms Anjali Bawa, Founder of Voila Experts addressed the challenges faced by young women entrepreneurs and the opportunities available for them to navigate through this journey.

Defining an entrepreneur-

Ms. Bawa commenced the session explaining entrepreneur as an individual who creates a new business and enjoys most of the risks and enjoys most of the rewards. Ms. Bawa also highlighted that the world is not yet ready for equally accepting young women as leaders of businesses. It is traditionally believed that young people are not suitable for leadership roles, due to their attitude to challenge the status quo and their faith in transforming the world to a better place.

Ms. Bawa underlining the reality of the entrepreneurial world, outlined 4 major challenges that women encounter in their journey of becoming a successful entrepreneur.

Challenges Faced by Women Entrepreneurs-

Ms. Bawa discussed the major challenge faced by women entrepreneurs is gender biasedness and stereotypes. As a young woman pitches her idea, there is always an attitude of dismissal she has to encounter, highlighted Ms. Bawa. Such biases and stereotypes create significant barriers in the entrepreneurial journey- from funding to garnering respect.

Lack of access to funding and resources is another significant challenge in the journey in entrepreneurship by women. Highlighting the figures, Ms. Bawa substantiated that lack of funding towards women led businesses is not due to women being incompetent but rather because of their gender. She highlighted that about 28% of the tech professionals are women and out of which merely 14% receive funding and only 1% are able to secure funding in the global ecosystem. Despite, the fact that women owned businesses generate 8-10% more revenue than their male counterparts in the same industry. Only 5% of the women owned businesses receive venture capitalist funding as compared to 77% of the male owned businesses.

The third challenge, Ms. Bawa outlined is the pressure of managing domestic and care-giving responsibility along with their work commitments. Such a pressure to excel in both leads to burnout and feeling of guilt among women.

Lack of mentorship and networking opportunities is another obstacle in the entrepreneurship journey, according to Ms. Bawa. Having a mentor helps in navigating the complexities of the journey of entrepreneurship.  Young women find it difficult to navigate through this without guidance of experienced professionals. This problem is specially observed in tier 2 and 3 cities. In networking events, lack of women representation makes it even more difficult for women entrepreneurs to start a conversation.

How to Navigate Through the Challenges-

To address gender stereotypes, visibility and representation will help the entrepreneurs to tackle the challenge, according to Ms. Bawa. Building a personal brand and speaking on the social media platforms aides in the process. Upskilling and taking inspiration from women working towards the same goals also opens up new avenues for the entrepreneurs. Such improvement in skill sets will give leverage over others and will help in overcoming gender stereotypes, Ms. Bawa underlined.

To get funding access and resources, Ms. Bawa highlighted it is important to seek funding opportunities which are tailored for the women like government grants, start-up India initiatives, female backed VCs, Angel investors. Try to network with women who have gained funds, this will enhance opportunities to raise funds. She gave some of the resource list for funding- government and venture capitalists.

Through effective time management and prioritisation and setting boundaries, work-life balance can be maintained, according to Ms. Bawa. Self-care is not selfish and taking time for relaxation is necessary for gaining long term success. Prioritizing both physical and mental health -eating healthy, exercising and taking enough breaks in between helps in managing the physical and mental pressure.

For Mentorship and networking, Ms. Bawa suggested the young entrepreneurs to actively seek out for mentorship programmes specifically designed for women entrepreneurs. Some of the programmes were mentioned.

Concluding the session, Ms. Bawa enumerated that by raising awareness and advocating for change, we can create a more inclusive environment for young women entrepreneurs. She reiterated, every obstacle presents an opportunity for growth and innovation.

Read more event reports of IMPRI here:

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