On September 4th, we hosted a roundtable discussion on the challenges and opportunities of women entrepreneurs in the Indo-US ecosystem at our office housed in the BSE Building. The panel discussion was led by Manisha Singh -State Department’s Assistant Secretary of Economic and Business Affairs. The discussion was also joined by some senior women leaders including Anjali Bhansal – Former Global Partner and MD with TPG Private Equity and strategy consultant with McKinsey’s Company, New York and Mumbai; Zankhana Kaur – Director and Co-founder of Ybiz Ventures Private Limited; Poyni Bhatt – Founding team member of the Society for Innovation and
Entrepreneurship (SINE) at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay; Karon Shaiva – Chief Impact Officer, and Managing Director, Idobro Impact Solutions.
The event started off with introductions, with everyone specifying what inspired them to take the first leap to start their own venture. A variety of answers were stated ranging from ‘doing something of my own’, ‘creating an impact’, and ‘getting inspiration from my children’. The main question of discussion was ‘What are some ideas the government can promote or barriers it can remove to help women entrepreneurs?’ The question resulted in interesting revelations about the problems faced by women entrepreneurs because of government procedures such as the requirement of husband or father collateral in some parts of India. Some other hurdles that were highlighted in this panel discussion included limited opportunities for financing across the supply chain, lack of family support, unawareness of the opportunities available, a male-dominated organizational culture, poor information flow, limited viability of finance across the supply chain etc.
“When the scheme trickles down from policy to action level a big company lens is used to evaluate a startup, resulting in no loans being disbursed,” says Poyni Bhatt – Founding team member of SINE. It was concluded that in terms of providing women with equal opportunities, we still have a long way to go as a society. A mindset shift is a key to a progressive society where everyone has equal opportunities. This shift can only start from our own homes and through the right childhood education. Lastly, women entrepreneurs have the responsibility to take risks, be
aware of the loans and opportunities available to them, and empower others.
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