How focusing on mobility, safety can help promote micro entrepreneurship for women

The Policy Times in association with USINPAC, PCombinator, Auto Nebula, Wellisen Nutraceuticals and Passion Framework recently held an hour-long webinar about Mobility, Safety and Micro Entrepreneurship for Women. The eminent panelists included Dr Prakash Sharma, Ambassador Global Startup Ecosystem, Akram Hoque, Founder The Policy Times, Parvesh Sudhposhan, CEO & Principal Consultant – Strategy, Digital Transformation & OD, QMC, Malhari Pokharkar Founder – Director MSME Mantra and Advocate Assunta Pardhe Chetna Mahila Vikas. Here are excerpts from the conversation.

Dr Prakash started off the conversation sharing, “Our goals are encouraging entrepreneurship and employment via research. We are looking to create mico entrepreneurs especially women micro entrepreneurs in the auto mobility space and smart city space. We are looking at e-rickshaws as a centre point with women entrepreneurs in the lead, and also exploring technological interventions. We are also looking at how COVID-19 will lead to certain operating procedures while operating e-rickshaws like sanitisation, social distancing and wearing masks. All three of our guests are working in this areas one Malhari is looking at bringing in investments for women entrepreneurs, Parvesh brings in implementation know-how and advocate Assunta who has the force of women with her.”

What needs to be done to encourage women to go mainstream

Assunta says, “When women start entering non-traditional occupations (which were previously only done by men), they will require more security. To start with they will require some basic training. If they are on the road, they will have to be trained so that they can protect themselves. If they are using an automobile or a rickshaw as a means of transport, they should be in a position to fix any issues that come up while commuting. They should have access to their funds. So, the accounts or payments need to be made only in the women’s names. This is to ensure that the family members do not take hold of the women’s earnings, denying access to her.”

According to Assunta working with women, she has observed that women tend to try and balance the responsibilities of their professional and personal lives. Unlike men, women always carry their home responsibilities around even when they are working out. Hence, according to her it’s important to involve women along with their family members in any plans of entrepreneurship as it gives the women the emotional support they need to start a new venture. 

Parvesh shares, “Financial independence is vital for women. If you want to create a healthy environment of entrepreneurship for women, we need to create a conducive environment for their growth and success. We need to enable their growth by providing them with the finances, the right kind of support and training. So, efficiency of any initiative we undertake in this area is totally dependent on end-to-end convergence of all the factors coming together to enable that process.”

Parvesh goes on to add that simply creating a policy will not help, creating an ecosystem around that policy will enable women to succeed and flourish as entrepreneurs. He feels that people like him who are working on initiatives for promoting women entrepreneurship need to first understand what are the problems women are facing on a day-to-day basis. For example, if they are commuting and stepping out of their homes for work, we have to ensure that they are safe on the road. Work environment safety is vital and so is financial stability. Also, what kind of financial support can be offered to women from a bank, financial institution or a government scheme is another factor that needs to be looked into.

So, if women are too succeed in starting their own ventures the initial funding needs to be taken care of. Whatever financial and emotional support they need or training required also needs to be provided. This needs to be done consistently till they are financially stable and their business starts picking up.

Malhari shares, “When it comes to training and schemes for women, the government has MEDEP (Micro-Enterprise Development Programme). Women can enrol in it and learn how to start a business. All start-up training is provided there. Also, the government also has women focused schemes where they give financial support of up to Rs 1 crore collateral-free loan.  If a woman wants to start a business in manufacturing, under this scheme she is eligible for financial support up to Rs 20 crores.  Apart from training women need to be aware of the different government schemes they can avail of to start their business and sustain it.”

MSME schemes for women entrepreneurs

Mudra Yojana Scheme If a woman wants to start a business on a small scale or with a group of women she can avail of this scheme.They can get a loan of up to Rs 50 lakhs. Up to Rs 10 lakhs, women can get a collateral-free loan. If the project costs is over Rs 10 lakhs they will have to have a guarantor.  This is one of the most popular schemes for entrepreneurs looking to start a small business.

Trade Related Assistance Empowering women by providingcredit to the projects and conducting relevant training, counselling and providing relevant information that they may need. Government grants up to 30 per cent subsidy through the lending institutions.

Mahila Udyam Nidhi Scheme This scheme is run by Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI).  The scheme provides up to Rs 10 lakhs loan.  It’s available for upgradation and modernisation of existing projects.

Annapurna Scheme This scheme is for women who have started a food catering unit.  The government provides for a loan of up to Rs 50,000  so that they can purchase any equipment necessary for their business.

Dena Shakti Scheme This scheme is offered to women who have at least 51 per cent controlling stake in the small business.  Interest rate concession of 0.05 %  can be availed of on a loan of above Rs 2 lakhs.

Bhartiya Mahila Business Bank Loan Women can avail of a loan up to Rs 20 crores especially for setting up manufacturing enterprises.

Udyogini Scheme Applicable to women entrepreneurs between the age of 18 to 45. They can get a loan up to Rs 1 lakh.

Cent Kalyani Scheme This scheme is offered by the Central Bank of India for women to start a business. Collateral-fee loan up to Rs 1 crore provided under this scheme.

How doorstep connectivity can help

Parvesh shares, “We are looking to have doorstep connectivity using technology so that we have a mode of transport like an e-rickshaw that women can opt for via an app. Using the app, information can be sent to a women service provider who can then drop the user to the nearest station to their home.”

 So, this way need-based transportation can take care of both the provider and the women entrepreneur availing of it.

Ecosystem needs sustained support from the government

Assunta feels that there is a need for sustained support from the government to create a nurturing ecosystem for women.  Also awareness needs to be created to break gender stereotypes prevalent among people. So, thinking has to be reset.

Malhari concludes the government needs to work on execution so the information about its various schemes reaches the ground level, especially to the women entrepreneurs for whom these schemes are made.

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