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Women entrepreneurs may be defined as a Woman or a group of women who

initiate, organize and run a business enterprise. Government of India has defined women
entrepreneurs based on women participation in equity and employment of a business
enterprise. Accordingly, a woman run a enterprise is defined as an enterprise owned and
controlled by a women having a minimum financial interest of 51% of the capital and giving
at least 51%of the employment generated in the enterprise to women. Women entrepreneur
constitute 10 % of the number of the number of entrepreneur in the country. This has been a
significant growth in self-employment of women with women now starting new ventures at
three times the rate of men. They constitute 50% of the population of our country with a
lower literacy rate than men. This statistical fact indicates that for the economic growth of
the nation, women should not be encouraged to make their share of economic contribution
towards the country. one way of achieving is by making women come out and become
entrepreneurs. In the traditional society, they were confined to the four walls, playing
household roles, but in the modern society, they are coming out to participate in all sorts od
activities. Normally, women entrepreneurship is found in the extension of their kitchen
activities, mainly in preparing commercially the 3Ps namely, Pickles, Papads and Powder.
Few of them venture into services industry relating to hospitality, catering, educational
services, consultation or public relations, beauty clinics, etc.

Women enter entrepreneurship due to economic factors which pushed them to be

on their own and urge them to do something independently. Women prefer to work from
their own work residence, difficulty in getting suitable jobs and desire for social recognition
motivate them towards self-employment. We see a lot of women professionals in
engineering, medicine, law etc. They are also setting up hospitals, training centers, etc.

An enterprise owned and controlled by a women having a minimum financial interest of 51

per cent of the capital and giving at least 51 per cent of the employment generated by the
enterprise to women.
Government of India

A woman entrepreneur can be defined as a confident, innovative and creative woman

capable of achieving self economic independence individually or in collaboration, generates
employment opportunities for others through initiating, establishing and running the
enterprise by keeping pace with her personal, family and social life.


Women entrepreneur are risk bearers, organizes and innovators too. Indian women,
who are regarded as better half of the society , are not equal partners in society. Perceptual
variables have a crucial influence on the entrepreneurial propensity of women and account
for much of the gender differences in entrepreneurial styles. The low literacy rate ( 40% ),
low participation rate ( 10 %) of women as compares to 60%, 52%, 18% respectively of their
male counterparts prove their disadvantageous position in the society.

The results of the survey conducted by IIT, Delhi are:

Women own one-third of small business in USA and Canada and the number is likely
50% in the 21st century.
Women account for 40% of the total work force in Asian countries.
Women outnumber men by at least two lines in China.
The percentage of women entrepreneurs has increased from 7.69% in 1992-93 to 10%
in year 2000-01, but the number still is significantly low as compared to overall work
participation rate i.e. 25.7%.
The number of women in technical courses, professional courses and in engineering
stream has shown a tremendous rise. Polytechnics and IITs have only 15% girls out of
total entrolled students and very less join and set their own enterprises.

Bowen & Hisrich, (1986), compared & evaluated various research studies done on
entrepreneurship including women entrepreneurship. It summaries various studies in this
way that female entrepreneurs are relatively well educated in general but perhaps not in
management skills, high in internal locus of control, more masculine, or instrumental than
other women in their values likely to have had entrepreneurial fathers, relatively likely to
have frts born or only children, unlikely to start business in traditionally male dominated
industries & experiencing a need of additional managerial training.

Cohoon, Wadhwa & Mitchell, (2010), present a detailed exploration of men &
women entrepreneurs motivations, background and experiences. The study is based on the
data collected from successful women entrepreneurs. Out of them 59% had founded two or
more companies. The study identifies top five financial & psychological factors motivating
women to become entrepreneurs. These are desire to build the wealth, the wish to capitalize
own business ideas they had, the appeal of startup culture, a long standing desire to own
their own company and working with someone else did not appeal them. The challenges are
more related with entrepreneurship rather than gender. However, the study concluded with
the requirement of further investigation like why women are so much concerned about
protecting intellectual capital than their counterpart. Mentoring is very important to women,
which provides encouragement & financial support of business partners, experiences & well
developed professional network.

Women network report on Women in Business & in Decision Making focus on

women entrepreneurs, about their problems in starting & running the business, family back
ground, education, size of business unit. Some interesting facts which came out from this
report are less educated women entrepreneurs are engaged in micro enterprises, have
husband & children but have no help at home. Most of the women establish enterprises
before the age of 35, after gaining some experience as an employee somewhere else. The
motivational factors were desire for control & freedom to take their own decision as well as
earning handsome amount of money. Dedication of more than 48 hours in a week with the
family support to their enterprises gave them a sense of self confidence. However, to
maintain balance between family & work life is a major challenge before women
entrepreneurs especially for those who have children & working husband.
Darrene, Harpel and Mayer, (2008) performed a study on finding the relationship
between elements of human capital and self employment among women. The study showed
that self employed women differ on most human capital variable as compared to the salary
and wage earning women. The study also revealed the fact that the education attainment
level is faster for self employed women than that for other working women. The percentage
of occupancy of managerial job is found to be comparatively higher in case of self employed
women as compared to other working women. This study also shed light on similarity and
dissimilarity of situations for self employed men and self employed women. Self employed
men and women differ little in education, experience and preparedness. However, the main
difference lies in occupational and industry experience. The percentage of population
holding management occupation is lower for self employed women as compared to self
employed men. Also the participation levels of self employed women are found to be less
than of self employed men in industries like communication, transportation, wholesale trade,
manufacturing and construction. The analysis is based on data from the Current Population
Survey (CPS) Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC) from 1994 to 2006.

Singh, 2008, identifies the reasons & influencing factors behind entry of women in
entrepreneurship. He explained the characteristics of their businesses in Indian context and
also obstacles & challenges. He mentioned the obstacles in the growth of women
entrepreneurship are mainly lack of interaction with successful entrepreneurs, social un-
acceptance as women entrepreneurs, family responsibility, gender discrimination, missing
network, low priority given by bankers to provide loan to women entrepreneurs. He
suggested the remedial measures like promoting micro enterprises, unlocking institutional
frame work, projecting & pulling to grow & support the winners etc. The study advocates for
ensuring synergy among women related ministry, economic ministry & social & welfare
development ministry of the Government of India.

Tambunan, (2009), made a study on recent developments of women entrepreneurs

in Asian developing countries. The study focused mainly on women entrepreneurs in small
and medium enterprises based on data analysis and review of recent key literature. This
study found that in Asian developing countries SMEs are gaining overwhelming importance;
more than 95% of all firms in all sectors on average per country. The study also depicted the
fact that representation of women entrepreneurs in this region is relatively low due to factors
like low level of education, lack of capital and cultural or religious constraints. However, the
study revealed that most of the women entrepreneurs in SMEs are from the category of
forced entrepreneurs seeking for better family incomes.


The prepared paper is a descriptive study in nature. The secondary data and
information have been analyzed for preparing the paper extensively. The secondary
information have been collected from different scholars and researchers published books,
articles published in different journals, periodicals, conference paper, working paper and


Besides the above basic problems the other problems faced by women entrepreneurs are as

1) Family ties:
Women in India are very emotionally attached to their families. They are supposed to
attend to all the domestic work, to look after the children and other members of the family.
They are over burden with family responsibilities like extra attention to husband, children
and in laws which take away a lots of their time and energy. In such situation, it will be very
difficult to concentrate and run the enterprise successfully.
2) Male dominated society:
Even though our constitution speaks of equality between sexes, male chauvinism is
still the order of the day. Women are not treated equal to men. Their entry to business
requires the approval of the head of the family. Entrepreneurship has traditionally been seen
as a male preserve. All these puts a break in the growth of women entrepreneurs.
3) Lack of education:
Women in India are lagging far behind in the field of education. Most of the women
(around sixty per cent of total women) are illiterate. Those who are educated are provided
either less or inadequate education than their male counterpart partly due to early marriage,
partly due to son's higher education and partly due to poverty. Due to lack of proper
education, women entrepreneurs remain in dark about the development of new technology,
new methods of production, marketing and other governmental support which will
encourage them to flourish.
4) Social barriers:
The traditions and customs prevailed in Indian societies towards women sometimes
stand as an obstacle before them to grow and prosper. Castes and religions dominate with
one another and hinders women entrepreneurs too. In rural areas, they face more social
barriers. They are always seen with suspicious eyes.
5) Shortage of raw materials:
The scarcity of raw materials, sometimes nor, availability of proper and adequate raw
materials sounds the death-knell of the enterprises run by women entrepreneurs. Women
entrepreneurs really face a tough task in getting the required raw material and other
necessary inputs for the enterprises when the prices are very high.
6) Problem of finance:
Women entrepreneurs stiffer a lot in raising and meeting the financial needs of the
business, Bankers, creditors and financial institutes are not coming forward to provide
financial assistance to women borrowers on the ground of their less credit worthiness and
more chances of business failure. They also face financial problem due to blockage of funds
in raw materials, work-in-progress finished goods and non-receipt of payment from
customers in time.
7) Tough competitions:
Usually women entrepreneurs employ low technology in the process of production. In
a market where the competition is too high, they have to fight hard to survive in the market
against the organised sector and their male counterpart who have vast experience and
capacity to adopt advanced technology in managing enterprises
8) High cost of production:
Several factors including inefficient management contribute to the high cost of
production which stands as a stumbling block before women entrepreneurs. Women
entrepreneurs face technology obsolescence due to non-adoption or slow adoption to
changing technology which is a major factor of high cost of production.
9) Low risk-bearing capacity:
Women in India are by nature weak, shy and mild. They cannot bear the amount risk
which is essential for running an enterprise. Lack of education, training and financial support
from outsides also reduce their ability to bear the risk involved in an enterprises.
10) Limited mobility:
Women mobility in India is highly limited and has become a problem due to
traditional values and inability to drive vehicles. Moving alone and asking for a room to stay
out in the night for business purposes are still looked upon with suspicious eyes. Sometimes,
younger women feel uncomfortable in dealing with men who show extra interest in them
than work related aspects.
11) Lack of entrepreneurial aptitude:
Lack of entrepreneurial aptitude is a matter of concern for women entrepreneurs.
They have no entrepreneurial bent of mind. Even after attending various training
programmes on entrepreneur ship women entrepreneurs fail to tide over the risks and
troubles that may come up in an organisational working.
12) Limited managerial ability:
Management has become a specialised job which only efficient managers perform.
Women entrepreneurs are not efficient in managerial functions like planning, organising,
controlling, coordinating, staffing, directing, motivating etc. of an enterprise. Therefore, less
and limited managerial ability of women has become a problem for them to run the
enterprise successfully.
13) Legal formalities:
Fulfilling the legal formalities required for running an enterprise becomes an
upheaval task on the part of an women entrepreneur because of the prevalence of corrupt
practices in government offices and procedural delays for various licenses, electricity, water
and shed allotments. In such situations women entrepreneurs find it hard to concentrate on
the smooth working of the enterprise.
14) Exploitation by middle men:
Since women cannot run around for marketing, distribution and money collection,
they have to depend on middle men for the above activities. Middle men tend to exploit
them in the guise of helping. They add their own profit margin which result in less sales and
lesser profit.
15) Lack of self confidence:
Women entrepreneurs because of their inherent nature, lack of self-confidence which
is essentially a motivating factor in running an enterprise successfully. They have to strive
hard to strike a balance between managing a family and managing an enterprise. Sometimes
she has to sacrifice her entrepreneurial urge in order to strike a balance between the two.



Push factors are elements of necessity such as insufficicient family income,

dissatisfaction with salaries job, difficulty in finding work and a need for flexible work
schedule because of family responsibilities. These factors may have more importance for
women than for men.


Factors that work as entrepreneurial drive factors relate to independence, self-

fulfillment, entrepreneurial drive and desire for wealth, power and social status, co-operation
and support of family members and a strong network of contacts. The most prominent factor
is self achievement expressed in terms of challenge which helps women to start, run their
own business and turn it into a profitable venture. When a strong need for achievement could
not be fulfilled through a salaried position or when there was a desire to transform a
perceived opportunity into a marketable idea, then these factors work for a person to stat
their own venture.

The 21st leading business women in India:-

Akhila srinivasan, Managing Director , Shriram Investments ltd.

Chanda Kocchar, Executive Director, ICICI Bank
Ekta Kapoor, Creative Director, balaji Telefilms Ltd.
Jyoti Naik, President, Lijjat Papad.
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairman & Managing director, Biocon Ltd.
Lalita D.Gupte, JMD , ICICI Bank.
Naina Lal Kidwar, Deputy CEO , HBSE.
Preetha Reddy , Managing Director, Apollo hospitals.
Priya Paul, Chairman, Apeejay Park Hotels.
Rajshree Pathy, Chairman, Rajshree Sugars & Chemicals ltd.
Ranjana Kumar, Chairman, NABARD.


The growth and development of women entrepreneurs required to be accelerated

because entrepreneurial development is not possible without the participation of women.

Therefore, a congenial environment is needed to be created to enable women to

participate actively in the entrepreneurial activities. There is a need of Government, non-
Government, promotional and regulatory agencies to come forward and play the supportive
role in promoting the women entrepreneur in India.

The Government of India has also formulated various training and development
cum employment generations programs for the women to start their ventures. These
programmes are as follows:

1. Steps taken in Seventh Five-Year Plan:

In the seventh five-year plan, a special chapter on the Integration of women in

development was introduced by Government with following suggestion:

Specific target group: It was suggested to treat women as a specific target groups in
all major development programs of the country.
Arranging training facilities: It is also suggested in the chapter to devise and
diversify vocational training facilities for women to suit their changing needs and
Developing new equipments: Efforts should be made to increase their efficiency
and productivity through appropriate technologies, equipments and practices.
Marketing assistance: It was suggested to provide the required assistance for
marketing the products produced by women entrepreneurs.
Decision-making process: It was also suggested to involve the women in decision-
making process.

2. Steps taken by Government during Eight Five-Year Plan:

The Government of India devised special programs to increases employment and income-
generating activities for women in rural areas. The following plans are lunched during the
Eight-Five Year Plan:

Prime Minister Rojgar Yojana and EDPs were introduced to develop entrepreneurial
qualities among rural women.
Women in agriculture scheme was introduced to train women farmers having small
and marginal holdings in agriculture and allied activities.
To generate more employment opportunities for women KVIC took special measures
in remote areas.
Women co-operatives schemes were formed to help women in agro-based industries
like dairy farming, poultry, animal husbandry, horticulture etc. with full financial
support from the Government.
Several other schemes like integrated Rural Development Programs (IRDP), Training
of Rural youth for Self employment (TRYSEM) etc. were started to alleviated
poverty.30-40% reservation is provided to women under these schemes.

3. Steps taken by Government during Ninth Five-Year Plan:

Economic development and growth is not achieved fully without the development of women
entrepreneurs. The Government of India has introduced the following schemes for
promoting women entrepreneurship because the future of small scale industries depends
upon the women-entrepreneurs:

Trade Related Entrepreneurship Assistance and Development (TREAD) scheme was

lunched by Ministry of Small Industries to develop women entrepreneurs in rural,
semi-urban and urban areas by developing entrepreneurial qualities.
Women Comkp0onent Plant, a special strategy adop0ted by Government to provide
assistance to women entrepreneurs.
Swarna Jayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana and Swaran Jayanti Sekhari Rozgar Yojana
were introduced by government to provide reservations for women and encouraging
them to start their ventures.
New schemes named Women Development Corporations were introduced by
government to help women entrepreneurs in arranging credit and marketing facilities.
State Industrial and Development Bank of India (SIDBI) has introduced following
schemes to assist the women entrepreneurs. These schemes are:

(i) Mahila Udyam Nidhi

(ii) Micro Cordite Scheme for Women
(iii) Mahila Vikas Nidhi
(iv) Women Entrepreneurial Development Programmes
(v) Marketing Development Fund for Women
4. Consortium of Women entrepreneurs of India provides a platform to assist the
women entrepreneurs to develop new, creative and innovative techniques of
production, finance and marketing. There are different bodies such as NGOs,
voluntary organizations, Self-help groups, institutions and individual enterprises from
rural and urban areas which collectively help the women entrepreneurs in their
5. Training programmes:

The following training schemes especially for the self employment of women are introduced
by government:

Support for Training and Employment Programme of Women (STEP).

Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas (DWCRA).
Small Industry Service Institutes (SISIs)
State Financial Corporations
National Small Industries Corporations
District Industrial Centres (DICs)

6. Mahila Vikas Nidhi:

SIDBI has developed this fund for the entrepreneurial development of women
especially in rural areas. Under Mahila Vikas Nidhi grants loan to women are given to start
their venture in the field like spinning, weaving, knitting, embroidery products, block
printing, handlooms handicrafts, bamboo products etc.

7. Rashtriya Mahila Kosh:

In 1993, Rashtriya Mahila Kosh was set up to grant micro credit to pore women at
reasonable rates of interest with very low transaction costs and simple procedures.


Entrepreneurship plays an imperative role in the growth of any society.

Development of entrepreneurship culture and qualitative business development services are
the major requirements for industrial growth. Entrepreneurship emerges from an individuals
creative spirit into long-term business ownership, employment creation, capital formation
and economic security. Entrepreneurial skills are essential for industrialisation and for
alleviation of mass unemployment and poverty.

As technology speeds up lives, women are an emerging economic force, which

cannot be neglected by the policy makers. The worlds modern democratic economy depends
on the participation of both sexes. Irene Natividad has observed that Global markets and
women are not often used in the same sentence, but increasingly, statistics show that women
have economic cloutmost visibly as entrepreneurs and most powerfully as consumers1.
Today, women in advanced market economies own more than 25 per cent of all businesses
and women-owned businesses in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America are
growing rapidly. In some regions of the world, transformation to market economy, women
entrepreneurs is a growing trend2. However, in India, the actual participation of women in
income generating activities is quite unsatisfactory, only eight per cent of the small scale-
manufacturing units are owned and operated by women.

Concept Of Women Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is an economic activity which is undertaken by an individual or

group of individuals. Entrepreneurship can be defined as the making of a new combination
of already existing materials and forces; that entrepreneurship throws up as innovations, as
opposed to inventions and that no one is entrepreneur for ever, only when he or she is
actually doing the innovative activity.

Women entrepreneurship is the process where women organise all the factors of
production, undertake risks, and provide employment to others. The definition of women
entrepreneurship has never been differentiated on the basis of sex and hence could be
extended to women entrepreneurs without any restrictions.

According to Medha Dubhashi Vinze, a woman entrepreneur is a person who is an

enterprising individual with an eye for opportunities and an uncanny vision, commercial
acumen, with tremendous perseverance and above all a person who is willing to take risks
with the unknown because of the adventurous spirit she possesses.

Thus, a woman entrepreneur is one who starts business and manages it

independently and tactfully, takes all the risks, faces the challenges boldly with an iron will
to succeed. Women entrepreneurship is an economic activity of those women who think of a
business enterprise, initiate it, organise and combine the factors of production, operate the
enterprise and undertake risks and handle economic uncertainty involved in running a
business enterprise.
Evolution of Women Entrepreneurship :

Although women form a very large proportion of the self- employed group, their
work is often not recognised as work. The prevailing household strategy catalyses the
devaluation of womens productive activities as secondary and subordinate to mens work.
Womens contributions vary according to the structure, needs, customs and attitudes of
society. Women entered entrepreneurial activities because of poor economic conditions, high
unemployment rates and divorce catapult. In Babylonia, about 200 B.C., women were
permitted to engage in business and to work as scribes. By 14th century, in England and
France, women were frequently accepted on a par with men as carpenters, saddlers, barbers,
tailors and spurriers. Dressmaking and lace making guilds were competed more with men for
some jobs, but were concentrated primarily in textile mills and clothing factories7. In 1950,
women made up nearly 25 per cent of both industrial and service sectors of the developing
countries. In 1980, it increased to 28 per cent and 31 per cent respectively. Meanwhile, in
1950, 53 per cent of females and 65 per cent of males of industrialised countries were in
non-agricultural sectors.

As a result of the economic crisis of the 1980s and the commercialisation and
modernisation of the economy, women lost employment in agriculture and industries. This
pushed women in urban areas to find out a suitable solution for generating income, which
resulted in the emergence of self-employment, largely in micro- businesses in the informal

Importance of Women Entrepreneurship

Women perform an important role in building the real backbone of a nations

economy. There is considerable entrepreneurial talent among women. Many womens
domestic skills such as people and time management and household budgeting are directly
transferable in the business context. Women have the ability to balance different tasks and
priorities and tend to find satisfaction and success in and from building relationships with
customers and employees, in having control of their own destiny, and in doing something
that they consider worthwhile. They have the potential and the will to establish and manage
enterprises of their own. These qualities and strengths of women are to be tapped for
productive channels. But simultaneous creation and development of small business among
women is a difficult task. According to Brady Anderson J., Even though womens
contributions to business are one of the major engines of global economic growth, too often,
women do not have access to basic business education, commercial credit and marketing
opportunities ...10. Maintenance of proper quantitative balance among various economic
activities is one of the principal functions of the economic system, which should operate to
give equal freedom of choice to men and women.

The process of economic development would be incomplete and lopsided, unless

women are fully involved in it. The orientation of a society as a whole, regarding desirability
that women should play an equal part in the countrys development, is a very important
precondition for the advancement not only of women, but the country as a whole. The
highest national priority must be for the unleashing of woman power which is the single
most important source of societal energy. Women entrepreneurs should be regarded as
individuals who take up roles in which they would like to adjust their family and society,
economic performance and personal requirements. Emancipation of women is an essential
prerequisite for economic development and social progress of the nations.

In the closing years of the 21st century, multi- skilled, productive and innovative
women entrepreneurs are inextricable for achieving sustained economic growth.
Globalisation of industrial production and economic interdependence have become the
torch-bearers for all international cooperations. In the dynamic world which is experiencing
the effects of globalisation, privatisation and liberalisation, women entrepreneurs are likely
to become an even more important part of the global quest for sustained economic growth
and social development. The economic status of woman is now accepted as an indication of
the societys stage of development. Women (especially rural women) are vital development
agents who can play a significant role in the economic development of a nation, but they
should have an equal access to productive resources, opportunities and public services. It has
also been realised in the last few years that the widespread poverty and stunted economic
growth can be overcome only by gainful and sustainable economic participation of women.
National development will be sluggish, if the economic engine operates only at half power.
Women in Enterprise Building has emerged as an agenda for many policy makers,
researchers, and trainers and as well as for associations and organisations involved in women
development. If women acquire skills, they can carve a niche for themselves in the outside
world too. This is the reason why women entrepreneurship development has become a
subject of great concern and serious discussion in recent times.
Women Entrepreneurship in India

Women entrepreneurship in India represents a group of women who have broken

away from the beaten track and are exploring new vistas of economic participation. Women
in India entered business due to pull and push factors. Their task has been full of challenges.
In spite of the family opposition, many women have proved themselves independent and
successful entrepreneurs. The emergence of women entrepreneurs and women-owned firms
and their significant contributions to the economy are visible in India and these businesses
are ready for continued growth in the future. In India, women constitute half of the total
population (495.74 million), but their participation in the econom ic activity is very low. The
Fem ale W ork Participation Rate was 25.7 per centin 2001.

In India, women are relatively powerless with little or no control over resources and
little decision making power. Women in the informal sector are found to be home-based
workers, engaged in the petty manufacture of goods, either on piece rate basis or on own
account, petty traders and petty shopkeepers or service specialists. Studies reveal that 89 per
cent of Indias women workers toil in the informal sectors in sub-human conditions. Over
2/3 of the enterprises are self owned and have a fixed capital of less than Rs.50/- . Over 4/5
of the women workers in this sector earn less than Rs.500/-p.m. The income earned by
women in this sector is said to be about of that of a woman in the organised sector13.

Nowadays women are well-educated with technical and professional qualifications.

Many of them have medical, management and similar degrees and diplomas. Many entered
their family business as equal partners. Women set up their own clinics or nursing homes,
small boutiques, small manufacturing enterprises and entered garment exports. They have
their own personal choices and the courage to undertake new ventures. However, many have
to face family antipathy and do not get adequate support from their family.

Evolution of Women Entrepreneurship in India

In India, womens participation in economic activity is common from time

immemorial. The role of women has gone through several transitions. It took centuries for
womens roles to move in the present direction. There are some regions where women live in
a barbarian era, chained and shackled to the social taboos, restrictions and lakshmanarekhas
of others who frame a code of conduct. At the same time there are other regions where
women fight for and win freedom and opportunity to play their roles in a new context with
new occupations and a new way of life.

As regards the ancient industries of India, family was the unit of production where
women played an important role in the production process. Even in Mohenjodaro and
Harappa culture, women shared a responsible position with men and helped in spinning and
clay modelling and other simple arts and crafts. Women played a very pivotal role in creating
household utility requirements and agricultural activities and weaving during the Vedic
Period. In the traditional economy, they played vital roles in agriculture industry and
services. They were the makers of intoxicant soma-juice, a skilful task14. In the 18th
century, women had a significant role in economy and a definite status in the social structure.
Womens informal trading activities in the international distribution system have been well
documented since early 1950s. Since 1970 systematic efforts have been made by the
Government to promote selfemployment among women. Women entrepreneurship in India
became popular in the late 1970s and now more and more women are emerging as
entrepreneurs in all kinds of economic activities.

According to the 1971 Census, the total female working population is about 13.8
per cent of the total work force. It was only from Fifth Five Year Plan (1974-78) onwards
that womens development was recognised as an identified sector. 1980s provided the real
breakthrough for women in many fields and many frontiers. During the 1990s, women were
capable, competent, confident and assertive and had a clear idea about the ventures to be
undertaken and they succeeded in them. Many women entered large-scale enterprises of their
parents or husbands and proved their competence and capabilities. Women acquired high
self-esteem and the capability of solving the problems independently through economic

In the 21st century women are becoming experts in all the fields. With the growing
awareness about business and the spread of education, they have entered new areas such as
engineering, electronics and energy and acquired expertise in these fields. Many of the new
industries are headed and guided by women. However, in India a large number of highly
educated women do not seek employment. Marriage and family have always been the first
choice for most Indian women. Female role prescriptions have created mind blocks. Men are
more likely to engage in entrepreneurial activities. The number of men in autonomous start-
up category is twice that of women, thrice in the category of manageresses.



National Resource Centre for Women (NRCW)

An autonomous body set up under the National Commission for Women Act, 1990
to orient and sensitise policy planners towards womens issues, facilitating leadership
training and creating a national database in the field of womens development.

Womens India Trust (WIT)

WIT is a charitable organisation established in 1968 to develop skills of women and
to earn a regular income by providing training and employment opportunities to the needy
and unskilled women of all communities in and around Mumbai.

Women Development Corporation (WDC)

WDCs were set up in 1986 to create sustained income generating activities for
women to provide better employment avenues for women so as to make them economically
independent and self- reliant.

Development of Women and Children in Urban Area (DWCUA)

DWCUA was introduced in 1997 to organise the urban poor among women in socio-
economic self-employment activity groups with the dual objective of providing self-
employment opportunities and social strength to them.

Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Karnataka (AWAKE)

AWAKE was constituted by a team of women entrepreneurs in Bangalore with a

view to helping other women in different ways to prepare project report, to secure finance,
to choose and use a product, to deal with bureaucratic hassles, to tackle labour problems, etc.

Working Womens Forum (WWF)

WWF was founded in Chennai for the development of poor working women to
rescue petty traders from the clutches of middlemen and to make them confident
entrepreneurs in their own right. The beneficiaries are fisher women, lace makers, beedi
making women, landless women, labourers and agarbathi workers.

Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Small Scale Industries (AWESSI)

It was founded in Ambattur in Chennai in 1984 to promote, protect and encourage

women entrepreneurs and their interests in South India to seek work and co-operate with the
Central and State Government services and other Government agencies and to promote
measures for the furtherance and protection of small-scale industries.

Womens Occupational Training Directorate

It organises regular skill training courses at basic, advanced and post advanced
levels. There are 10 Regional Vocational Training Institutes (RVTIs) in different parts of the
country, besides a National Vocational Training Institute (NVTI) at NOIDA.

Aid The Weaker Trust (ATWT)

ATWT was constituted in Bangalore by a group of activists to impart training to

women in printing. It is the only one in Asia. Its benefits are available to women all over
Karnataka. It provides economic assistance and equips girls with expertise in various aspects
of printing and building up self- confidence.

Self- Employed Womens Association (SEWA)

SEWA is a trade union registered in 1972. It is an organisation of poor self- employed

women workers. SEWAs main goals are to organise women workers to obtain full
employment and self- reliance.

Women Entrepreneurship of Maharashtra (WIMA)

It was set up in 1985 with its head office in Pune to provide a forum for members
and to help them sell their products. It also provides training to its members. It has
established industrial estates in New Mumbai and Hadapsar.

Self- Help Group (SHG)

An association of women, constituted mainly for the purpose of uplifting the women
belonging to the Below Poverty Line (BPL) categories to the Above Poverty Line (APL)
category. The major activities of the group are income generation programmes, informal
banking, credit, unions, health, nutritional programmes, etc.

The National Resource Centre for Women (NRCW)

An autonomous body set up to orient and sensitise policy planners towards womens
issues, facilitating leadership training and creating a national data base in the field of
womens development.

Women Development Cells (WDC)

In order to streamline gender development in banking and to have focused attention
on coverage of women by banks, NABARD has been supporting setting up of Women
Development Cells (WDCs) in Regional Rural Banks and Cooperative Banks.