Strategies to support women entrepreneurs: Highlights from #WERISETwitterchat

November 26th, 2020

Diksha Singh

A significant majority of enterprises led by women in India operate at a subsistence level, with weak access to formal finance, mentoring and skilling support, and poor market linkages. In the wake of COVID-19, these enterprises have been disproportionately affected by economic uncertainty and instability. These enterprises have also demonstrated their spirit of resilience and ability to innovate, by supporting community-building efforts and adapting to market changes. Despite these noteworthy contributions, women-led enterprises are vulnerable to economic shocks and at a greater risk of shutting down. The need of the hour is a significant thrust from policy, industry, and community microenterprises in navigating the changing socio-economic environment and building their resilience to shocks in the long-term.

On the occasion of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (November 19), we hosted a Twitter chat to discuss strategies for enhancing women’s participation in entrepreneurial activity and strengthening enterprise resilience. The chat explored strategies for addressing restrictive social norms that influence women’s participation in aspirations for entrepreneurship, improving skilling programs, and building business acumen, enabling meaningful access to technology and markets. Participants also discussed strategies for collecting better-disaggregated data and integrating a gender lens in entrepreneurship development programs and policies. 

Here are the key highlights of the discussion:

1.Identifying role models from the local community and including household members in the conversation can ease sticky social constraints around women’s participation in entrepreneurial activity.

2.Income earned from self-employment provides women greater control over their finances and improves household bargaining power, which in turn contributes to a shift in attitudes and social norms.

3.Universalising social protection and broadening access to a suite of financial services including savings, insurance, and low-cost working capital can build resilience against shocks.

4.Combining vocational training programs with soft skills and business acumen can promote risk-taking and enable entrepreneurs to scale up.

5.Leveraging peer support can play an important role in improving women’s participation in business training, and in turn business activity and household income.

6.Mandating preferential purchase of products and services offered by women’s enterprises by public and private players can be key to stabilise demand and strengthen market linkages.

7.Identifying ‘digital champions’ and providing hand-holding support coupled with “nudges and reminders” at teachable moments is crucial to build trust and familiarity with new technologies.

8.Simplifying onboarding processes and user interfaces can open up e-commerce opportunities for women. 

9.Disaggregated data is a critical ingredient for developing targeted policies and programs.

10.Beyond disaggregated data, incorporating a gender lens to theories of change and data analysis is crucial to understand pathways of impact.

Follow the entire discussion thread here – #WERISEtwitterchat.Learn more about the impact of COVID-19 on women-led businesses, and explore our recommendations for strategies to encourage women entrepreneurs here. Based on research undertaken by LEAD and IWWAGE, this report presents evidence on barriers impeding the growth of women entrepreneurs and highlights stories of resilience amid uncertainty.


About the Author

Diksha Singh leads the learning and communications portfolio at LEAD. She has more than a decade of experience in research and outreach. Diksha has a Master’s in Economics from the University of Mumbai. She enjoys cycling, reading, and writing when she is not chasing her toddler around.

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