(GIST OF KURUKSHETRA) Supporting Women-led Startups

(GIST OF KURUKSHETRA) Supporting Women-led Startups


Supporting Women-led Startups


With a vision to promote the sustainable development of women entrepreneurs for balanced growth in the country, Startup India has been committed to strengthening women entrepreneurship in India through initiatives, schemes, the creation of enabling networks and communities, and activating partnerships among diverse stakeholders in the startup ecosystem. 

Measures taken by the government so far:

  • To promote flow of both equity and debt to women led startups, 10% of the fund (Rs. 1,000 crore) in the Fund of Funds for Startups Scheme operated by SIDBI is reserved for women-led startups.
  • Virtual Incubation Programme for Women Entrepreneurs was conducted to support 20 women-led tech startups with pro-bono acceleration support for three months.
  • A webpage dedicated to women entrepreneurs has been designed on the Startup India portal. The page includes various policy measures for women entrepreneurs by both Central and State Governments.
  • Awareness and Capacity-Building Workshops for Women: The department conducts various workshops with a specific focus on women entrepreneurs. The workshops include deliberation on various topics, and successful entrepreneurs share their entrepreneurial journeys. The participants of the sessions conducted comprised many women, including both aspiring and existing entrepreneurs. Startups at all stages — Ideation stage, Validation stage, Early Traction stage, and Scaling stage -- with full-time female founders, or co-founders, or directors are encouraged to attend these workshops.
  • WING: It aims to support 7,500 women entrepreneurs in the country per year. As a part of DPIIT’s programme WING -a capacity development programme for existing and aspiring women entrepreneurs was conducted in Guwahati, Assam, and Kohima, Nagaland in January 2020 which saw the participation of 114 attendees across two parallel workshops. 

The participants were given mentoring sessions in the following areas:

  1. Venture Ideation and Business Model Validation
    b. Governance: Legal/ Compliance
    c. Marketing/ Branding: Creating differential
    d. Finance and Financial Decisions
    e. Mastering Customer Acquisition Strategy and Scaling-up

Positive Aspects:

  • Government Initiatives: The various government initiatives such as Stand-Up India, PM Mudra Yojana, and Startup India to support women entrepreneurs. These schemes aim to provide financial assistance, create enabling networks, and activate partnerships to strengthen the startup ecosystem.   
  • Startup Growth: The statistics presented in the article show a significant increase in the number of recognized startups, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 142% between 2016 and 2022. This growth indicates a thriving startup culture in India.
  • Increasing Women-led Startups: A substantial increase in the number of startups led by female founders, reaching 80,000 in 2022 from 6,000 in 2017. The share of VC funding for women-led startups has also increased from 11% in 2017 to 20% in 2022.
  • Job Creation: Recognized startups are reported to have created over 10.34 lakh direct jobs as of April 2023, contributing to economic growth and employment opportunities.
  • Specific Measures for Women Entrepreneurs: The government has taken specific measures to promote women entrepreneurship, including reserving funds for women-led startups, conducting virtual incubation programs, creating a dedicated webpage, and organizing awareness and capacity-building workshops for women.
  • Awareness Programs: The government conducts awareness programs through various media channels to inform entrepreneurs about existing schemes supporting micro, small, and medium enterprises, with a focus on women entrepreneurs.
  • Access to Funds: It access to funds as a significant challenge for women-owned MSMEs and discusses specific government funding schemes like Mudra Yojana and Stand-Up India to address this issue.

Challenges and Concerns:

  • Access to Funds: While there are initiatives to address the challenge of access to funds, the article acknowledges that women-owned MSMEs still face difficulties due to lack of collateral, limited avenues to prove creditworthiness, and biases against lending to female entrepreneurs.
  • Digital and Technical Skills Gap: Women-led MSMEs are reported to lag in digital and technical skills, attributed to low literacy rates and limited access to mobile devices and the internet. This poses a challenge in the digital economy.
  • Rural Women Entrepreneurs: It emphasizes the need to highlight achievements of women entrepreneurs in rural areas, particularly in agriculture and allied sectors. It suggests that rural women entrepreneurs may not be receiving sufficient attention compared to their urban counterparts.


  • Inclusive Access: The efforts should be made to ensure that female entrepreneurs can equally access the benefits of all entrepreneurship support schemes, not just those specifically targeting women.
  • Digital Economy Support: More schemes supporting entrepreneurship in the digital economy are recommended to address the challenges faced by women-led MSMEs in terms of digital and technical skills.
  • Non-Financial Support: It emphasizes the importance of non-financial support such as technology upgrades, quality assessment, intellectual property rights, marketing infrastructure, market access, incubation facilities, skill training, and capacity building, especially for women entrepreneurs.


  • As the Government fine-tunes its various schemes to make them more effective, it must pay particular attention to ensuring female entrepreneurs can equally access the benefits of all entrepreneurship support schemes against only those that specifically target women. Also, more schemes that support entrepreneurship in the digital economy are needed. Non-financial support under schemes in the form of technology upgrades, quality assessment support, intellectual property rights (IPR), marketing infrastructure, market access, incubation facilities, skill training, capacity building, etc., needs to be equally available, especially for women. If more and more women-owned business enterprises can play a prominent role in society by generating employment opportunities in the country, it will bring in demographic shifts and inspire the next generation of women founders.




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Courtesy: Kurukshetra