As girls, we were raised to believe that we can achieve innumerable goals and that nothing can come in our way. However, reality speaks a different story. Things aren’t exactly equal in the relative middle-class society of India. Women make up almost half of the world’s working-age population of nearly 5 billion people. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), only 50 percent of those women participate in the labor force compared to 80 percent men.
Apart from the huge gender pay gap and unequal positions, social norms and traditional gender roles are other major things holding women back. Almost half of the women population carries out domestic tasks for their families, like childcare. This can limit their opportunity to engage in paid labor. Women who are branching out from social norms have their issues. The environment is not at all favorable towards Indian women who might want to set up and/or advance their own business. Banks and investors rate a business ‘risky’ if it is run by a woman. Furthermore, state institutions and programs that promote business start-ups and existing enterprises frequently do not pay attention to the challenges and limitations faced by women entrepreneurs.
To provide an aid for Indian women entrepreneurs and start-ups by them, German agency Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ) is implementing the project ‘Economic Empowerment of Women Entrepreneurs and Start-ups by Women’, to promote aspiring and existing women entrepreneurs in India on behalf of the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Under the name of ‘Her & Now’, the project supports the Indian Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MoSDE) in improving the overall framework conditions for women-led businesses in India through the implementation of incubation and acceleration support programs for women entrepreneurs.
GIZ, along with NGO Dhriiti- The Courage Within, will help women entrepreneurs in selected regions (Assam, Rajasthan, Telangana) to establish their businesses by providing training and other kinds of support. The project, ‘Her&Now’ will be implemented in Rajasthan over the next 2 years by GIZ through its implementation partner Startup Oasis.
On 23rd July 2019, GIZ and Dhriiti organized a joint consultation workshop to interact and learn from relevant stakeholders about the key sectors that lend themselves to micro-entrepreneurship for women in Rajasthan. The consultation attempted to gain insights into the existing and potential value chains for women-led enterprises in the region.
The discussion focused on sectors and enterprise value chains that are women-centric. Representatives from organizations like PM Yuva, NABARD, Rajasthan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Tata Trusts, Barefoot College, FICCI, SEWA, TiE, Ambuja Cement Foundation participated in the consultation. There was also a wide representation of women entrepreneurs from various sectors like Handicrafts, Art, and Film Making.
It emerged from the discussion that policy measures should be immune to political instability and women micro-enterprises should be made part of the main value chain to ensure a long-term impact. Proper ecosystem for women entrepreneurs is not only about incubation and financing support. It is also about the ecosystem within them and that within their families.
For over sixty years, GIZ has been operating collectively with partners in Asian countries for property economic, ecological, and social development.
GIZ is contributing to some of the most vital initiatives that Indian government had launched to address the country’s economic, environmental, and social challenges. It establishes key initiatives such as smart cities, clean India and skills India.