A lot of women entrepreneurs are still struggling to find the right framework, the right support system to grow and sustain businesses. Why do you think that is the case?
You are right. While about 20-25% of businesses in India are run by women, less than 2% of them actually are able to raise any capital and the participation of women in work forces has been declining. All these factors are related to the whole conditioning while growing up as well as support that women are able to get at their homes.
I myself have faced biases in my entire fundraising journey. In the last three-four years, things have improved and come a long way. Firstly, a lot of the decision making is still controlled by men and that means companies which want to invest are more related to categories that they can relate to. Also the kind of founders that VCs want to invest in are a specific type of ambitious characters which sometimes women are not. I do feel that it all boils down to the bias in the decision making process.
Apart from that, there is definitely a structural lack of access and while there are certain policies and amazing initiatives like the SIDBI Fund of Funds which is of several thousands of crore, do not have a clear mandate of supporting more women entrepreneurs. So, as women, we struggle with equity as well as debt fund raising and the number of women founders should go to about a 30% to 40% over the next decade.
Hopefully we will have a similar ratio in terms of the number of women getting funded as well because without access to capital, it is hard to scale and build large enterprises.
How difficult was it on that count?
I am a mother of two but I am one of the privileged ones who had a lot of support but the data says that in India, the domestic participation is so skewed that women put in six times more hours in a day than man in doing domestic chores and the surprising part is this includes educated women, women who are working as well as women entrepreneurs.
If there is a certain bandwidth that one has in a day and if you are putting in six hours compared to one hour that your better half is putting in, you just have so much physical and mental bandwidth available to invest in your business or in your career. So the starting point is at home. I have been very lucky because I think my spouse puts in 50% and without that load sharing, it would have been impossible to come this far.
That is why I feel that the biggest partnership that is required to solve this in the long run is of men not just in decision making positions but at home because without that, all other stuff we are doing in our organisations or in the government is not going to change anything because we will still be doing a heavy lifting at home.