People@Work

Unlocking the hidden entrepreneur within homemakers

| Updated on July 01, 2020 Published on July 01, 2020

A screenshot from the Britannia event

Game for it The fact that Britannia received 1.5 million applications for its start-up contest shows the enterprising streak that runs in women

The all-virtual finale of the My Start Up Season 2 saw 10 women receiving a cheque to kickstart their dream enterprises

The Britannia Marie Gold My Start Up initiative gives women entrepreneurship a needed boost

There is a big gender gap in entrepreneurship in the country. Only around 14 per cent of businesses run in India were owned or run by women and of these 90 per cent were micro-enterprises, according to the 2014 Economic Survey. More recent official data has been hard to come by.

However, the good news is that in the last few years a growing number of accelerators, incubators, government platforms as well as corporate programmes have begun focusing on giving a boost to women entrepreneurship.

Walmart India, for instance, has graduated three batches in its women entrepreneurship development programme. SAP India has a Girl Power Tech programme aimed at helping drive entrepreneurship in areas like cyber security. Britannia is now on Season Two of its Marie Gold My Start Up initiative aimed at turning homemakers into entrepreneurs.

On Tuesday, the 10 winners of the second edition of Marie Gold My Start Up were announced, with an interesting range of ideas — from a science museum for kids to a linen baby clothing enterprise to an eyecare clinic.

The 10 winners will get seed money of ₹10 lakh to start up their dream enterprise. In addition, 10,000 women were chosen for a digital skilling programme on entrepreneurship that will be conducted in partnership with the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).

The fact that Britannia received 1.5 million applications for its start-up contest shows the enterprising streak that runs in women. While working women are also encouraged to apply, they got more applications from homemakers, says Vinay Subramanyam, head of marketing, Britannia Industries.

In fact, the group was inspired to start the programme as a survey the brand did in 2018 showed that 48 per cent of homemakers had aspirations to start their own business, reveals Subramanyam.

The three biggest barriers were financial support, lack of confidence and lack of guidance. In Season One, the financial support part was addressed by giving seed money to ten winners, says Subramanyam. This year, the programme is additionally addressing the confidence and guidance aspect through a 48-hour-long, specially tailor-made skilling programme created in English and Hindi in partnership with the NSDC.

Did the pandemic result in any changes in the choice of winning start-ups? Subramanyam says the selection was not influenced by the current scenario but did look at the long-term sustainability of projects. None of the businesses seemed to be invalidated by the pandemic, he adds.

The range of ideas is striking. One of the winners, Shahnaz Tabussum from Patna, plans to start a reflexology self-treatment and training centre.

Shikha Dey of Durgapur, West Bengal, wants to use the seed capital to start a bioflock fish farm, a growing industry where fish is cultivated indoors.

Following up too

Starting up is easy. But will Britannia follow through and make sure the women really are able to create the enterprises of their dreams? Subramanyam says last season’s ten winners have all launched their enterprises and continuous follow-ups have been done.

In the last couple of years, according to data from several sources including data intelligence platform Tracxn, there has been encouraging growth in start-ups founded by women. At least 25 per cent of the start-ups launched last year had a woman founder. Reaching the 50 per cent mark will take time but a few more encouraging boosts could speed the journey.

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Published on July 01, 2020
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