Credit access and credit assessment of women-led businesses – Handicrafts and Handlooms

Research Team: Mridulya Narasimhan
LEAD Centre:
Focus Area: MSME & Entrepreneurship
Project Geography: Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan
Partner: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Status: Ongoing

Background:

This study aims to understand market access and enterprise readiness among women entrepreneurs in the handicrafts and handlooms sector in order to identify impediments to a more enabling entrepreneurial ecosystem for them.


The handloom and handicrafts sector continues to be a major source of livelihood in a country that is predominantly agrarian. In addition to being sustainable and providing income and security in times of agrarian distress, the industry contributes to keeping traditional arts alive. Over 50% of those employed in the sector are women, who face a host of challenges that come with living in a traditional and patriarchal society. The informal and decentralized nature of the sector limits their bargaining power in procurement and selling. Most women artisans tend to prefer setting up Home-Based Businesses (HBBs), further alienating their enterprises from microfinance institutions, which lack the capacity to reach these dispersed groups. Gender again comes into play in limiting access to valuable resources, as reportedly 58% of women in India face difficulty accessing credit, savings, or jobs because of their gender (MasterCard’s Connector Project). The objective of this study is to identify constraints on women in the entrepreneurial ecosystem that limit their capacity to expand and scale up their businesses. This project is being undertaken as part of the Initiative for What Works to Advance Women and Girls in the Economy (IWWAGE) and is funded by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Approach
This study has been designed to better understand the constraints on the entrepreneurial ecosystem for women in the handlooms and handicrafts sector in Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan through a two-part assessment –
(i) Market access and enterprise readiness among women entrepreneurs
(ii) Credit access and credit assessment of women-led businesses by formal and informal lending institutions.

It will take a mixed-methods approach to reach its objectives, incorporating qualitative assessment, quantitative assessment, desk reviews, key informant interviews, and case study methods. It is being conducted in partnership with Tamil Nadu Development Corporation Ltd., Poompuhar and Hand-in-Hand in Tamil Nadu and SRLM, SEWA, and Fab India in Rajasthan.

Implications
Apart from augmenting existing research exploring female entrepreneurship, this study hopes to identify key impediments to greater participation of women entrepreneurs in the handicrafts and handlooms sector. Results from the study will help inform policy and financial product design that contribute to a more enabling entrepreneurial ecosystem for women in the sector, in turn leading to enriched livelihoods and poverty alleviation. They will also be used to design a multi-dimensional index – Women Business Readiness Scorecard – Handloom and Handicrafts Sector (WBRS – HHS). This scorecard will help evaluate the current sectoral performance as well as identify the key constraints and high-performance areas for each stage of the value chain.