Contemporary Perspectives on Women Entrepreneurship in India

Contemporary Perspectives on Women Entrepreneurship in India

Neeta Baporikar (Namibia University of Science and Technology, Namibia & University of Pune, India)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5112-6.ch009
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An entrepreneur is a person who initiates and establishes an enterprise. Entrepreneurship refers to the decisions one takes in setting up and running a new enterprise. The individual constitutes the most important element in entrepreneurship. This individual who decides to be an entrepreneur can be a “HE” or “SHE.” So though the word “Entrepreneur” does not discriminate between genders, yet there is an underlying thread which is of interest to researchers and practitioners alike to study “women entrepreneurship.” Because of the economic restructuring and societal acceptance more women have started establishing enterprises. Being women for whom the social barriers are now breaking and acceptance coming, one should say that women entrepreneurship is in its infancy and transitionary period. Due to this fact, it has its own unique facets. Based on in depth literature review and grounded theory approach, this chapter intends to explore factors which influence women entrepreneurship and provide contemporary perspectives on women entrepreneurship in the Indian context.
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According to the Global Entrepreneurship monitor (GEM) study in 67 countries, there are 126 million women entrepreneurs in the world. In most countries, entrepreneurship levels for women are lower than that for males except in in Panama, Thailand, Ghana, Ecuador, Nigeria and Uganda. The female entrepreneurship rates differ among developed and developing economies and even for economies at the similar stages of economic development. For example, in Zambia, 40 percent of women are engaged in entrepreneurial activity whereas only 1% of women in Pakistan are entrepreneurs (GEM, 2014; Niethammer, Saeed, Sidi, and Charafi, 2007). The entrepreneurial rates in different countries are influenced by the social status of the women in the specific cultural and religious context. To explain the variation, one has to look at both the Individual-centric approach and country-specific approach since individuals operate in a specific context (Singh, 2012). Female entrepreneurship is a reflection of the societal context where the business is located (Pathak, Goltz and Buche, 2013).

Historically, women entrepreneurs have gravitated towards consumer, retail and service sectors, and avoided capital-intensive manufacturing sector (OECD, 2001). In developing economies most women become entrepreneurs by starting businesses out of necessity, as it's the only way they can earn a living. However, women entrepreneurs are active in all the sectors including the necessity-driven, efficiency-driven and innovation-driven sectors of the economy globally but are under-represented in the science and knowledge-based businesses that deal more with intangible assets like information and knowledge (Wiklund, Davidsson and Delmar, 2003). Women may be unsure of their ability to identify, assess and act on an opportunity in a high-technology sector. Knowledge-based women entrepreneurship is more prevalent in the developed or knowledge economies like U.S.A., Canada and Western Europe and India is following the suit. Even in the developed countries, where women often are more highly educated than men, women are less likely than men to think that they can be successful in starting a new innovation-driven business. There are fewer women than men starting a new business and running mature businesses due to individual, social, cultural and institutional factors. The individual factors that limit entrepreneurial success includes lack of education and training, self-doubt, fear of failure and a desire to seek approval from others (Bruin, Brush and Welter, 2006). In developed economies, women may have more years of education but it may not relate to self-perceived confidence in their entrepreneurial capabilities. The social and cultural factors that inhibit female entrepreneurship include male-dominated social structure that leads to household and childcare responsibilities delegated mostly to women (Brush, Duffy and Kelley, 2012). The restrictions for women in some religions and implied deference to men in other religions are not conducive to entrepreneurial success. There is a widespread assumption that women are motivated to start businesses with desire to combine family responsibilities and work commitments. So, also women have only moderate aspirations for the growth of their business, prefer stability and independence to growth (GEM, 2014).

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