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MSME Annual Report Analysis

Women have definitely made progress in the field of entrepreneurship in spite of all the gender discrimination they face on a day-to-day basis. But the concern here is in spite of the Government’s multiple schemes and initiatives for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) being in favour of women, we still see a huge gender gap in the progress. Why is it so?

While going through the Annual Report of MSME 2020-21, a particular statistic got me thinking. Let me put down the statistics here:

Taken from MSME’s Annual Report 2020-21

We can clearly see a huge gender gap there.

Also, I would like to bring to your attention an interesting point made in the report that mentions there was no significant deviation in this pattern (of the dominance of males in ownership in proprietary MSMEs) in urban and rural areas, although the dominance of male-owned enterprises was slightly more pronounced in urban areas compared to rural areas (81.58% as compared to 77.76%). If just education and access to technology were factors in women entrepreneurship, shouldn’t it be more pronounced in rural than urban? So what are we missing here? Think!

Sneak-peek into the lives of Indian urban women

Now let the statistics be on one side. Let me draw your attention to the picture of a few educated women’s lives living in urban areas who dream of being an entrepreneur.

Satya*– Age 37, married with two kids. A brilliant girl who had cleared her UPSC prelim in her 20’s, got married and is now a homemaker made to believe making 3 different breakfast types each day catering to the taste of her family members (and not hers) is all about being a woman.

Joy*– Age 28, an MBA grad from a prestigious institute. A self-made woman who had the ambition and a foolproof plan for her business idea fall in love with a wrong person who ends up stalking and blackmailing her for nothing wrong on her part. Confidence shattered and cynical of cyber security, she now prefers taking a 9-5 job.

Veda*– Age 35, mother of 2 kids, a free and independent woman prior marriage lives a life of a “parrot in a golden cage”, pampered but not set free. Even her dressing and choice(?) of not being on social media is a decision(!) made by her husband.

Shashi*– Age 40, a software engineer, an ex-data analyst, a mother to 2 teens, decides to upgrade her professional skills and make her entrepreneurial dream come true. The family accepts on one condition that she makes sure the prestige and peace of the household be intact by making sure she gives her due time and attention to take care of the elders at home and follows the customs of the family to a T. Most importantly, to make sure that the onus of household chores doesn’t fall as a burden on anyone else. She still chases her dream, registers her company, multitasks, toils day & night only to end up falling chronically ill just in the next 2 years.

The above women are not any fictional characters and you can easily find one in your family too. I hope this could have thrown light on the picture that we overlook.

Even in a recent episode of a Tamil talk show, social activist Smt.Oviya mentions how still women are trapped in the patriarchal mindset that there is a need for women to develop a business mindset. She goes on to mention that even when women come to register for MSME, there are many cases where women don’t even have a single utility bill in their name to proceed with the paper works.

The need for change

Social stigma, patriarchal mindset, women being bound to unpaid care work, cyber crimes against women- no matter how much ever she is educated or has access to technology- are all few factors that act as roadblocks in a woman’s entrepreneurial journey that we overlook.

Here, a man’s business is considered legit and even seen as a family business while a woman’s business is not; it’s mostly seen as her hobby. A successful woman is portrayed as one who could multitask striking the right balance between work and family while a man is not expected to strike such balance.

Gender biases should be eradicated. Unpaid care work should be shared and not seen just as a woman’s duty. Only then, a woman can scale in her entrepreneurial journey at an exponential rate.

The government may come with multiple schemes and banks may provide non-collateral loans but are we as a society ready to unlearn our cultural conditioning and biases that hold back our women at home?

“The best thermometer to the progress of a nation is its treatment of its women.”

– Swami Vivekananda 

*Names changed for privacy concerns.

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8290cookie-checkRoadblocks that we overlook in an Indian woman’s journey towards entrepreneurship
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