Women-led entrepreneurial ventures are working out for us as well as the democracy is – the possibilities seem to be limited, the past dictates the future, and we are awaiting miracles to get us out of this mirage, where people and policies seem to be hurtling towards “achhe din” but the ground realities are starkly different. However, we won’t bitch and moan about having a patriarchal society and turn this into a pity party because we have enough examples of women taking charge of their situations and emerging victorious; but we will definitely want to go about understanding why women must be there for each other in order to challenge the societal norms from both sides of the VC table.
Women have traditionally been in the “Homemaker” s domesticized role, and the flag bearers of feminism are out to fight it but here’s a perspective on using this role to their advantage. Home is where our economy starts, they have been the customers at the very primitive level, trying to fulfil their own and their family’s needs. They know the customer pockets, they understand the distribution channel, and they know what brand tactics catch their attention. Call it 4P or 1W(oman); they’ll tell you what the market needs intuitively! Moreover, they have more significant insights into a much neglected but a treasure trove of retail purchase segment, the women themselves. A few women who capitalised on this opportunity in the recent past have made it big in the industry. With Mrs Falguni Nayar’s Nykaa, women can buy cosmetics with a click; with Ms Suchi Mukehrjee’s Limeroad, women can shop without the drop(ping); and with Mrs Richa Kar’s Zivame, there is no need of having embarrassing conversations with the guy selling lingerie. The truth is, men may have the purchasing power, but behind every man is a woman deciding what to buy.
An entrepreneur is mainly defined by two things- the ability to identify a market gap that can be fulfilled, and taking calculated business-related risks to build on the profitability of their venture; and this brings me to the other side of the table. Cognitive and behavioural studies show that on an average, women have higher right brainpower than men, which is often associated with the ability to come up with creative solutions to problems, so we know that it’s the second factor that has to be worked upon. The requirement is two-fold. Firstly, there is a need for venture capitalists to understand what these women and their ventures bring to the table. Historically, men have been celebrated based on their potential and drive to achieve things, whereas women are appreciated based on their previous achievements, but how will the future achievement opportunity with a startup arise without a prior success? A catch 22 situation, isn’t it? One solution would be to have more people on the VC panels who can understand this potential bias and work through it – having a few of them as women would be great. Secondly, there need to be more women on the top, above the glass ceilings. They give hope to the newbies and more importantly, a chance at guidance through mentorship programmes, because they know the problems and have found the solutions while getting to the apex. The process will be gradual and not smooth, but all depends on recognising the problem and taking upcharge for solving it instead of buzzing and tweeting.
A study conducted by McKinsey stated that India could increase its GDP by 16% to 60% just by enabling women to participate in the economy on the same footing as men. So what are we waiting for?