(Mr. Wajahat Hussain Mattoo is Coordinator at the Jammu & Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development Institute (JKEDI), Pampore.)
Government of India has defined women entrepreneurs as an enterprise owned and controlled by a women having a minimum financial interest of 51% of the capital and giving at least 51% of employment generated in the enterprise to women.
Economic globalization has encouraged the expansion of female business ownership. “The growing economic power and influence of women-owned businesses are changing the shape of the global economy,” remarked Sakiko Fukuda - Parr, director of the UN Development Program’s Human Development Report. The global impact of women entrepreneurs is just beginning to gain intensity. Worldwide, the number of female business owners continues to Women Entrepreneurs in the Global Economy increase steadily. For example, women produce more than 80 percent of the food for Sub-Saharan Africa, 50-60 percent for Asia, 26 percent for the Caribbean, 34 percent for North Africa and the Middle East, and more than 30 percent for Latin America. Female entrepreneurs are active at all levels domestically, regionally, and globally.
Characteristics of Women Entrepreneurs:
Woman entrepreneurs tend to be highly motivated and self-directed. They also exhibit a high internal locus of control and achievement. Researchers contend that women business owners possess certain specific characteristics that promote their creativity and generate new ideas and ways of doing things:
1) Autonomy: Entrepreneurs have a strong desire for autonomy. Women at midlife often lose patience playing by corporate rules and want to call their own shots and put their own values first.
2) Resilience: Entrepreneurs have the ability to bounce back from setbacks. It takes resilience to get through the roadblocks that will inevitably show up. At midlife and beyond, women have learned to be resilient, as they’ve weathered life’s ups and downs.
3) Initiatives: Entrepreneurs are self-starters. The most successful entrepreneurs also keep the momentum going after the initial burst of energy.
4) Confidences: Entrepreneurs believe in themselves and get others to believe in them too. They have the confidence to find the resources they need and the ability to ask for help and support.
5) Intuitive: Entrepreneurs have good business instincts. They use left-brain rational thinking to analyze problems, but they also trust their intuition, which is often correct. Women tend to trust their intuition in business more often than men.
6) Decisive: Entrepreneurs are action oriented. They make decisions and take the actions required to get them to their desired results. Midlife women have had a lifetime of experience to fine-tune their decisionmaking ability.
7) Connects: Entrepreneurs build relationships. They build networks and thrive on seeing opportunities for connections for mutual benefit. At midlife, women have well developed networks, which is an advantage in starting and sustaining a business. (Grossman Amy, 2009).
Overall, men's and women's motivations for business initiation are quite similar. As with male entrepreneurs, females seek independence, autonomy, higher income, and the opportunity to be their own boss.
One difference between men and women in their motivation to initiate a business is that men often cite economic reasons, whereas women often cite family needs. Whereas men generally see entrepreneurship as a business decision, many women view it as a life choice-a way of integrating family and career needs.
Reasons Women Become Entrepreneurs:
Many studies indicate that women start businesses for fundamentally different reasons than their male counterparts. While men start businesses primarily for growth opportunities and profit potential, women most often found businesses in order to meet personal goals, such as gaining feelings of achievement and accomplishment. In many instances, women consider financial success as an external confirmation of their ability rather than as a primary goal or motivation to start a business, although millions of women entrepreneurs will grant that financial profitability is important in its own right.
Women also tend to start businesses about ten years later then men, on average. Motherhood, lack of management experience, and traditional socialization has all been cited as reasons for delayed entry into entrepreneurial careers. In fact, over 30 percent of women entrepreneurs reported that they started a business due to some traumatic event, such as divorce, discrimination due to pregnancy or the corporate glass ceiling, the health of a family member, or economic reasons such as a layoff. But a new talent pool of women entrepreneurs is forming today, as more women opt to leave corporate America to chart their own destinies.
Many of these women have developed financial expertise and bring experience in manufacturing or nontraditional fields. As a result, the concentration of women business owners in the retail and service sectors—and in traditional industries such as cosmetics, food, fashion, and personal care—is slowly changing.
The Importance of Women Entrepreneurs:
Women entrepreneurs encounters only one third of all entrepreneurs. And as half the population on this planet is women there is an unnatural gap between genders. There is thus potential to enhance the level of women entrepreneurs. Women entrepreneurs have a massive potential which are yet to be unleashed. Not only due to the gender gap, but also because women bring in diversity to the innovation process. More women will provide per se entrepreneurs with a more diverse perspective. Solutions to market inequalities are not solved just by male entrepreneurs with male thinking innovation. Now women also brings in solutions to market inequalities and their innovations may not be alike those of the man. Thus women entrepreneurship is to be seen as part of the diversity question.