Some would say that age is just a number, but when you want to start your own business and especially for young women, it can be much more than just a number. It gets even worse for women who are young and look even “younger” if that’s even a thing. We have a mere 14% Indian businesses owned by women and a major part of why it is like this is because of the several challenges that women face in starting their businesses.
One of them, for many women who start early, is that they look young which for many translates into “not serious enough”.
At a recent event when asked about the difficulties Supriya Paul, Director and Co-founder of Josh Talks, said that the first challenge was, “I was too young and wasn’t taken seriously. Specially as a 20-year-old you go up to large businesses and advertisers and pitch your idea, nobody thinks that this is going to be something that you are going to do full-time. I still get asked quite often even with investors that is this your full-time job?”
Paul was 21 when she started her venture in partnership Shobhit Banga. She goes on to list the next challenge, which was that in a all-men meeting, no one spoke to her even about her own area of work where she was the decision-maker. She finally dealt with it by putting her foot down and voicing her concern.
It seems we as a society still aren’t equipped enough with our responses when we have to deal with a woman leader. This is what slows the progress down. But if we look back a decade, we hardly had any women entrepreneurs. Startup entrepreneurship was coming up big time and women were talking about it but barely any who would want to take on the risk. And today, women hustle, save up the money, start a business bootstrapped and then go on for investor-funding. So clearly, women-owned businesses have achieved some milestones.
Today we see that 45% students want to study abroad for higher education and of the remaining 55%, almost 40% of the girls want to start their own venture.
Talking about the progress and young girls desiring entrepreneurship, Dr Balvinder Shukla, Vice Chancellor of Amity University found out that a decade ago girls would want to get a job after studies and then get married a few years down the lane.
“Today we see that 45% students want to study abroad for higher education and of the remaining 55%, almost 40% of the girls want to start their own venture. And when asked why they want to start a business, they said a couple of things like even if they don’t succeed, then they will at least gain experience, freedom to work at their own pace and the fact that it is booming in the digital medium they believe that they will get support,” said Dr Shukla.
It is true that these gender biases and discrimination will take a long while before they actually subside but as long as the younger lot of women are kicked to start a venture, we have hope.