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‘Sales, revenue down for 87% of women-owned businesses’

Our Bureau Chennai | Updated on August 27, 2020

Survey on Covid impact highlights labour shortage, too

The Consortium of Indian Associations (CIA), which represents over 30 associations including several women trade bodies, said that 87 per cent of women-owned businesses experienced significant reduction in sales and revenue due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The findings are part of a survey commissioned by the CIA to assess the impact of Covid-19 on women-run enterprises. The survey, conducted by Mala Sarat Chandra, covered a total of 1,420 respondents from Chennai, Bengaluru, Delhi and Noida in July and August, in partnership with various trade associations and student interns.

The Federation of Indian Women Entrepreneurs, All India HAIR & BEAUTY Association, Consortium of Women Entrepreneurs of India and ITF-Industry & Trade Forum are some of the associations that are part of the CIA.

According to the survey, 18 per cent of the respondents said they have changed their business focus with a new product mix to sustain operations while 74 per cent expressed concerns about being able to resume business after a five-month cessation.

Low awareness of schemes

The survey highlighted that while 83 per cent of participants expressed concerns about cash flow and liquidity lasting beyond September 2020, 98 per cent of those surveyed were unaware of government schemes available for women entrepreneurs.

“The government has invested in a lot of programmes or schemes but most of the women I spoke to knew nothing about them and those who knew are reluctant to go after them because they are difficult to navigate and get approval,” Chandra said,. “So that would be something that the government has to fix but business support organisations like FICCI, CII, CIA can take up as a promotional activity,” she added.

The survey further revealed that 70 per cent of the businesses which restarted in July 2020 are facing acute shortage of workforce in the absence of migrant workers.

Transport restrictions, increased responsibility for domestic care, increased social pressures and thereby limited family support, absence of guidance on financial matters and not-so-easy availability of government assistance programmes are some of the major issues faced by the women in the informal sector.

Setting up a women empowerment division in each bank to fund women-owned enterprises (WOE), creating mentor network by providing online training and skill development on digitisation, social media, online marketing and creation of online business directory for WOE to provide access to resources, information, mentors, networking and market are some of the recommendations of the survey.

“There can be a platform or portal through which women can be taught skills or put in touch with other women who can exchange skills. It needs to be a coalition of effort by government, industry and business support organisations to create something like SheTrades in Commonwealth countries,” Chandra added.

Published on August 27, 2020

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