29 August 2014

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'Entrepreneurship Among Women has Led to their Empowerment'

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Dr Ananthapadhmanabha Achar faculty at the Manipal Institute of Management (MIM) along with women entrepreneur Sarita Santhosh and freelance researcher Meera Sharma participated at the International conference on “Harnessing the Entrepreneurial Potential of Women for Economic Growth” which was organised by Manipal Institute of Management jointly with Asian Centre for Entrepreneurial Initiatives (ASCENT).

There they presented a case study on ‘Women Entrepreneurs in Micro & Small Enterprises - A Case of Udupi District,’ (a township in DK). The research paper makes an attempt to understand the current status of women entrepreneurs in Micro & Small Enterprises in Udupi district.

Prof. (Dr) Achar has 22 years of teaching experience in the field of Human Resources and Small & Medium Enterprises Management. He has conducted 100 plus programs for Managers and Owners of SMEs in Karnataka and has till date presented a dozen research papers in International Conferences. Sarita Santhosh, is the Owner of the immensely successful travel and tour agency Sunshine Travels, Manipal started by her way back in 2001. Meera Sharma is an independent researcher currently based in Karnataka. She has done research in social issues such as women empowerment, HIV/AIDS, parenting and family values etc.

Excerpts from the interview with Dr Acahr,  Sarita, and Meera.

Dr Achar what according to you is the status of Indian women in present day society?

Women as an independent target group, account for 495.74 million and represent roughly 48.3% of the country’s population as per the 2001 census. No country can achieve its potential without adequately investing in and developing the capabilities of women. In the interest of long-term development it is necessary to facilitate their empowerment. In many developing countries, including India, women have much less access to education, jobs, income and power than men.

Even after five and half decades of planned development, Indian women have not achieved expected success in the mainstream of life. India will not be in a position to have a competitive edge over others until and unless the status and role of women is improved. Indian women have remained at the receiving end (of this unfair treatment) and have by and large been a neglected lot.

They have not been actively involved in the mainstream of development, even though they represent equal proportion of the population and labor force. Primarily women are the means of survival of their families, but are generally unrecognized and undervalued, being placed at the bottom of the pile. It may be noted, that in a country like India, majority of women take up entrepreneurship not as a career option but because of compulsions economic or otherwise.

Saritha, you are an entrepreneur yourself, why do you think it’s important to promote women entrepreneurs? What kind of support is essential?

The importance of promoting women to engage in economic activities is now being increasingly realized by all developing countries.

The need is two fold - (i) to empower women by bringing them into main stream of development and by improving their economic status; and (ii) to provide new employment opportunities by self-employment and entrepreneurship development among them.

Entrepreneurship development among women is one activity that promises encouraging results. By motivating, training and assisting women towards independent business ventures, it may be possible to bring beneficial results in the development of a region. Women’s entrepreneurial activities are not only a means for economic survival but also, to empower them economically and enable them to contribute more to overall development.

Institutional support is very important for women entrepreneurs. Recently because of active support form Government and Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs), women are undertaking entrepreneurial ventures as career options. Some of these institutional support bases are: District Industries Centre (DIC), National Small Industries Corporations (NSIC), Small Industries Service Institutes (SISI), Technical Consultancy Organisation (TCS), National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and Nationalised Commercial banks

Meera, what is the objective of the study you three have taken up? Can you give us some facts and figures of the study undertaken?

Our paper attempts to understand the present status of women entrepreneurs in Udupi District as also the enabling and disabling factors contributing to the success/ failure of micro-enterprises owned by women entrappers. It also tries to evaluate the various government schemes for development of women entrepreneurship. Furthermore, it suggests measures for improving the growth and development of women entrepreneurs.

The data/information for the study was collected both from ‘Primary’ as well as ‘Secondary’ sources. Primary data for the study was collected by administering a structured questionnaire to a sample of 20 women entrepreneurs of Udupi district. Secondary data was collected from literature, reports, records, interviewing the officials of DIC, RUDSETI etc. In addition to the above approach our study also collated and relied on observation and data made available by the officials of the government agencies.

In our research study 80% of the respondents were in the age group between 30 to 45 years. 95% of them were married while education wise 80% were graduates. 98% of them belonged to nuclear family. While 75% of them lived in urban area, 25% belonged to the rural segment.

The study concentrated on women heading their own enterprises and the form of organizations was all sole trading concerns. 26% had undergone training in entrepreneurship.

With regard to motivation to start business, 60% did so with a desire to be independent, 38% due to economic compulsions while 02% were inspired by successful entrepreneurs. With regard to finance 70% had put in their own capital while 30% had put in borrowed capital. Enterprises running less then 5 years constituted about 60%, while those running between 5 to 10 years were 40%.  With regard to those who had taken training in entrepreneurship 77% had received no training while 13% were trained in the same. As regards monthly income of the respondents 60% earned within 10,000 to 20,000, 35% within 20,000 to 30,000, while a meager 5% earned above 30,000. With regard to type of business 70% were in service sector, 18% in trade while 12% were into manufacturing.

Dr Achar, what have you surmised from the study and what is your recommendation on the same?

We as researchers believe there are some major problems encountered by entrepreneurs such as limited amount of capital available, family responsibilities, low access to business information, operations being restricted to local markets, non support from Institutional agencies and limited access to banking facilities.

We have recommended some steps to improve the status of women entrepreneurs. Accordingly, EDP training institutions should try and target married women who are in the age group between 25 to 50 years. Awareness should be created regarding various government schemes for the development of women entrepreneurship, liberal credit facilities should be made available by Banks and lastly there should growth programme conducted for the specific target group.

Entrepreneurship among women has by and large resulted in the empowerment of women. In the present socio economic context where women have to balance both family and work, entrepreneurial venture will suit them very well, temperamentally. 

Multi pronged approach should be adopted to motivate women to pursue entrepreneurial activities.  Concerted effort must be made to raise the level of women entrepreneurship in SSI.  Social activists, NGOs, government agencies as well as the corporate sector can and should play an active role in the transformation of women as wholesome individuals and assist in driving them to explore entrepreneurial opportunities in small scale industries, is our sincere advice.

 

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