An Entrepreneur Is An Entrepreneur Is An Entrepreneur Business Essay

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Entrepreneurship by definition implies being in control of ones life and activities. Sociologists consider social sanctions, cultural values and role expectations as the responsible factors for the emergence of entrepreneurial class in a country. Hoselitz opines that culturally marginal groups encourage entrepreneurial behavior and thus, economic development. In India, Hindu Vaisyas, Jains and Juda are very effective in developing entrepreneurial class.

Women entrepreneurs are a group of women who initiate, organize and run a business enterprise. The Government of India has defined 'women entrepreneurs', based on women participation in equity and employment of a business enterprise. Thus, a women entrepreneur is defined as an enterprise owned and controlled by a woman having a minimum financial interest of 51% of the capital and giving at least 51% of the employment generated in the enterprise to a woman. The areas generally chosen by women are retail trade, restaurants, hotels, education, cultural, insurance, manufacturing etc.

A woman as an entrepreneur is economically more powerful than as a mere worker because ownership gives control and the freedom to take decisions. This helps in significantly uplifting the status of women. Empirical studies have showed that additional investment on women is usually likely to yield a higher social rate of return than a corresponding outlay on man. The participation of women in income generating activities not only increases the income of their families but also brings about their economic freedom. But for a woman, earning an income has to be adjusted with family responsibilities. Traditionally, women have turned to each other for support and have formed self-help groups. Stifled by a culture of incredulity, public and private lenders alike have made little progress in supporting women-run businesses, In such a scenario, self-help groups, better able to judge women's plans for themselves, have taken up the slack, but there is still a long road to travel for aspiring businesswomen.

The objective of this paper is to highlight the role of women as 'ENTREPRENEURS' and emphasize on their strong areas. Models of entrepreneurship are historically male based but they become particularly inadequate when used to explain the experiences of women as entrepreneurs. Till recently, little attempt has been made to discover the underlying experiences of female entrepreneurs and how they have emerged into the entrepreneurial arena.

Keywords: Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Women Entrepreneurs, Gender Equality, Gender Bias, Functions of women entrepreneurs, Difference between men and women entrepreneurs,

self-help groups, women-run businesses

Introduction:

"An entrepreneur is an entrepreneur is an entrepreneur."

Gertrude Stein

Entrepreneurship by definition implies being in control of one's life and activities. Sociologists consider social sanctions, cultural values and role expectations as the responsible factors for the emergence of entrepreneurial class in a country. Hoselitz opines that culturally marginal groups encourage entrepreneurial behavior and thus, economic development. In India, Hindu Vaisyas, Jains and Juda are very effective in developing entrepreneurial class.

Women entrepreneurs are a group of women who initiate, organize and run a business enterprise. The Government of India has defined "women entrepreneurs", based on women participation in equity and employment of a business enterprise. Thus, a women entrepreneur is defined as an enterprise owned and controlled by a woman having a minimum financial interest of 51% of the capital and giving at least 51% of the employment generated in the enterprise to a woman. The areas generally chosen by women are retail trade, restaurants, hotels, education, cultural, insurance, manufacturing etc.

Women entrepreneur can be defined as a person who has alone or with one or more partners started or inherited a business eager to take financial, administrative, and social risks and responsibilities, and participating day-to-day management activities (UNDP, 2004). In India

(Ramasamy, 2009) women entrepreneurship can be considered as "necessity entrepreneurship" rather than "opportunity entrepreneurship" women usually have smaller networks and less geographical mobility than men, more so in the case of young, married women who need to take care of their families.

The 1991 Industrial Policy has envisaged Entrepreneurship Development Programmes to support women entrepreneurs by providing trainings through various institutions and organizations both at Central and State levels. In 1986, IDBI launched a special scheme for women - Small Industries Development Organizations (SIDO). During 1987-88, it conducted over 258 training programmes exclusively for women.

A woman as an entrepreneur is economically more powerful than as a mere worker because ownership gives control and the freedom to take decisions. This helps in significantly uplifting the status of women. Empirical studies have showed that additional investment on women is usually likely to yield a higher social rate of return than a corresponding outlay on man. The participation of women in income generating activities not only increases the income of their families but also brings about their economic freedom. But for a woman, earning an income has to be adjusted with family responsibilities. Traditionally, women have turned to each other for support and have formed self-help groups. Stifled by a culture of incredulity, public and private lenders alike have made little progress in supporting women-run businesses, In such a scenario, self-help groups, better able to judge women's plans for themselves, have taken up the slack, but there is still a long road to travel for aspiring businesswomen.

Identification of Functions of Women Entrepreneurs:

Fredrick Harbiscom has enumerated the following five functions of women entrepreneurs:

Exploration of prospects of starting a new business enterprise,

Understanding risk and handling of economic uncertainties involved in business,

Introduction of innovations, imitations of innovations,

Co-ordination, administration and control, and

Supervision and leadership.

An entrepreneurial leader's most important aspect is the diversity and the capability to tackle various situations. A woman, in everyday life, has to perform diverse roles by acting as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, etc. and tackling all the household problems which come as an infinite array on regular basis. Women seem to have perfected the art of multi-tasking. It is observed that generally, women are initiated to become entrepreneurs due to environmental factors, such as, death of the earning member of the family or failure of family business or father's/husband's inability or willingness to shoulder the family responsibilities etc. Reports by Government departments and financial institutions have mentioned about constraints imposed on women entrepreneur by their immediate environment, family commitments and lack of appropriate psychological disposition on part of the women themselves, being the chief causes.

Women have shifted to non-traditional roles and activities as a result of awareness created by education. They have become more self-reliant and confident and are capable of creating and building industrial empires from the initial first steps taken. According to Laila Kabir, a noted entrepreneur, "If women get the opportunity to develop as entrepreneurs, I think they can do very well because they very early in life learn to manage available resources and time successfully."

Women are far better managers as compared to their male counterparts because they learn management through real life experiences. The biggest challenge that many literate and illiterate women in rural and urban areas face is due to the lack of knowledge of product, market and quality. Anu Aga, CEO, Thermax Industries Ltd., once quoted that women in our country have to earn an extra quality to consider the society and its norms and values for the sake of business and although it is an added burden on them but this consideration helps them to stand beside men as equals.

Empirical evidence shows that women contribute significantly to the running of family businesses mostly in the form of unpaid effort and skills. The contribution of women does not even figure in our country's GDP. The value of this effort is underestimated both by the families that take it for granted and in academic studies. Many of the enterprises defined as being run by women are in fact run in their names by men who control operations and decision making. Programmes meant to reach women entrepreneurs can succeed only if they take note of this paradox as well. Promoting entrepreneurship for women will require reversal of traditional attitudes than the mere creation of jobs for women. This implies that the programmes should go beyond subsidies and credit allocation to attitudinal changes, group formation, training and other support services. As per the records of the Government of India, suicide rate is highest among teenage girls in Uttarakhand.

Differences between Men & Women Entrepreneurs:

Many studies show that there are certain differences between men and women in their reasons for starting a business. Lavoi (1992), in a study based on women entrepreneurs in Canada found that financial gain is not the primary motivating factor for women, who are likely to start a business for the challenge and opportunity for self-fulfilment.

Studies from developing countries, (Patel, 1987; Das, 2000), in contrast, suggest that there are three categories of women entrepreneurs based on how their business got started -

Chance Entrepreneurs: their businesses probably evolved from hobbies and they started business without any clear goals or plans.

Forced Entrepreneurs: their need to start a business arose from circumstances, mostly facing financial difficulties.

Created Entrepreneurs: these are located, motivated, encouraged and developed through Entrepreneurship Development Programmes.

Kimo Williams, in her paper, "Women Entrepreneurs in the Music Industry" (June 2009), brought about three additional characteristics for many female entrepreneurs -

Does not wear feminist activism on her sleeve, but believes in the spirit of feminism,

Is inquisitive in areas that are traditionally male-dominated, and

Is educationally, intellectually and technically proficient in many different areas of the music industry.

In both developed and developing countries, women work 35 hours more than men every week. There are many women organizations, which are tremendously contributing to the upliftment of women. The day is not very far when women will be considered and recognized for their commitment and virtues. The casual and interesting hobbies, which an individual developed in her child hood, can be successfully converted into a business opportunity. Today, women in advanced economies own more than 25% of all businesses. Between 65% and 90% of part time workers in industrialized countries are women. The opportunities available for business are tremendously high. The media projects the few women who do make it to the top, making us believe that there is a sustainable change in the gender equations within corporations and businesses.

In Business Schools:

The real story is somewhat different. It begins at business school where the percentage of women students remains in the region of 10 per cent. So compared to the number of men entering the market each year, women remain a very small minority. Training in entrepreneurial attitudes should start at the high school level through well-designed courses that build confidence through behavioral games. This would illustrate practical application of the academic knowledge being imparted regarding management of an enterprise.

A survey done by Catalyst, a non-profit research organisation committed to the advancement of women in business, reveals that of the Fortune 500 companies worldwide, women constituted only 13.6 per cent of directors. But this was an improvement on 1995, when the percentage was 9.5 per cent. Understanding this line of thought and realizing the need to provide women with more opportunities to do their thing, Ms Rachna Chhachhi started the 'redforwomen' site. This site brings amazing flexible opportunities to women and lots of women have benefited from this. The success and popularity of this site speaks volumes of the excellent entrepreneurship of its CEO, Ms Rachna Chhachhi. RED means Real Easy Decisions. Redforwomen helps finding an area of work where an individual is completely satisfied with what she does. Today majority of the opportunities are web based.

NGOs like RUDSET (Rural Development & Self-Employment Training Institute), in Karnataka have succeeded in achieving reasonably high success levels, but others including governmental bodies have still not reached these levels. The Institute enables women to cross their threshold barrier blocks, by empowerment of women candidates. A look at the various schemes available reveals that under the Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP), finance is given for setting up a shop, and the Prime Minister's Rozgar Yojana (PMRY) extends assistance for trading activity, including simple trade finance. RUDSET Institutes have contributed to the national wealth to the tune of Rs. 315 Crores per annum. A successful trainee earns, on an average Rs. 2500/- per month.

Credit & Assistance:

Credit is available for women through a plethora of schemes but there are still bottlenecks and gaps. The schemes are not adequately listed nor is there any networking among agencies. As a result, clients approaching one institution are not made aware of the best option for their requirements. The real need for the hour is a closely integrated data bank into which all concerned agencies are plugged in.

At the initial stages women prefer to programmes that ensure almost total marketing support, since they seldom have the time or the confidence to seek out and develop markets. Activities in which women are trained should focus on their marketability and profitability, and not be routinely restricted to making pickles and garments. A high power and professionally involved committee must constantly review the courses and the curriculum on the basis of evaluation studies and market developments. In addition to skill development, these institutes should also provide practical management inputs.

Even when women are otherwise in control of an enterprise, they often depend on males of the family in this area. Marketing means mobility and confidence in dealing with the external world, both of which women have been discouraged from developing by social conditioning.

Rajadhyaksha studied one financial company and two fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies, both subsidiaries of multinationals. She looked not just at the number of women in top management but conducted qualitative research by speaking to the women who worked within these organizations to see how they perceived the work atmosphere and whether they felt they had a chance of moving ahead in their careers.

The results provide us with interesting insights into the complexities of women's progress, something that is not achieved by having a few symbolic women at the top. Rajadhyaksha found in her study, some companies continue to function in ways that are specifically unhelpful to women. One of the FMCG companies she studied, for instance, had an in-house training programme that made no concessions to the specific difficulties that women might face. For women managers to survive the initiation, they had to set aside all personal choices, such as marriage and children, and essentially become one of the guys. If they got through this early period, they might be noticed for a higher position. But once again, the nature of the company, its orientation towards marketing and sales, meant that women had to be prepared to be transferred and to work in smaller towns. This necessitated separation from families. For younger women, often recently married with small children, such transfers forced them to resign. The company did not try and work out alternatives for women caught in this bind. As a result, this company had no women in the senior most strata of managers and certainly no women on its board of directors.

By way of contrast, the financial company that Rajadhyaksha studied accommodated the particular needs of women without making it a specific company policy. The nature of work allowed women with very young children to do some of the work from their homes. The company allowed for a zigzag rather than a linear route to the top. In other words, there was not just one way to get to the top. You could take a break, even a change and still make it to the top. Such flexibility encouraged women to stick it out. As a result the company has been noted as being "woman-friendly".

What does it mean to have a "woman-friendly" policy? According to the women working in this particular company, this meant that women were not made self-conscious about being women, they were not discriminated against for developmental opportunities, there were no compulsory transfers, there were multiple growth opportunities and there were flexible routes to get to the top. As a result, 23 per cent of the senior managers in this company were women. On the other hand, in the FMCG company, only eight per cent of all managers were women, only 10 per cent of junior managers, and only one per cent of middle-level managers. There were no women on the board.

The larger lessons of this study suggest that there have to be systemic changes if companies are serious about bringing in greater diversity in their management and encouraging competent women to overcome the hurdles that society places in their career paths.

Case 1: Shantabai's Story:

A smile flits across Shantabai's face when she recalls the old days. Slogging away at her sewing machine to stitch petticoats for as little as Rs 2 per piece, at times even less, if the dealer found fault with the piece. She had never imagined that one day she would become an entrepreneur of sorts. Unmindful of her husband's taunts, she enrolled for a housekeeper training course being conducted by a Pune-based NGO. This landed her a part-time job with a monthly salary of Rs. 1500 and very soon she started selling clothes, mainly undergarments and children's wear. Now she has purchased a stall, courtesy her own savings and an additional loan from the credit and cooperative society run by the NGO, Mahila Udyojakata Sangha or Association for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE), that initially trained her. "This organisation has changed my life," Shantabai says softly.

Case 2: Karnik's Story:

Arti Karnik started her catering service after undergoing AWE's housekeeper training course. "I used to make dabbas (tiffins) earlier for four to five people but it was not doing well. After doing this course I started a catering service. The training did not help me improve my culinary skills, but I learnt how to do costing/pricing of food items etc. And most importantly, it made me confident. I am ready to take on the world now," Arti declares.

Case 3: Jabeen's Story:

Confidence is something that Jabeen also wears on her sleeve. An erstwhile housewife, she enrolled at the domestic patient care course and was found so good that she was absorbed as a trainer. "I had never thought I would be able to do anything except housework; but this course has changed my attitude and also the perception of others towards me." Her success is all the sweeter, as the very conservative in-laws who were opposed to her stepping out of home are her greatest supporters and admirers now.

Shantabai, Karnik and Jabeen and are just a few of the numerous women who have undergone a metamorphosis after their association with AWE, and all of them credit the organisation as the change-agent. They emphasise that while the organisation has provided the space, the direction and inspiration has come from its founder, Kranti Shitole, fondly known as Krantitai.

Association of Women Entrepreneurs (AWE):

AWE was set up in 1993. Having been associated with various NGOs and more specifically with women, Kranti Shitole says she was sure that she wanted to work on the issue of women's economic empowerment. "It has been our experience that whenever there is not enough money at home, it is the women who cut their needs first to the extent that they remain hungry to feed rest of the family. So, our objective was to ensure that women could earn some money. Further, once women get into economic-related activities, money becomes not just a means to survival but it also brings power."

AWE initially began working with women who were already engaged in some economic activity. Tapping potential markets and networking seem to be the two guiding mantras adopted by AWE. The process of introducing various courses was a gradual one. Again, the guiding objective was that these courses should be good enough to fetch employment.

Muslim women members of AWE churn out mouth-watering biryani from their kitchens. All AWE did was to standardise the product quality to ensure uniformity. The catering service run by AWE is so popular that people living almost 20 kilometres away place orders, particularly for biryani!

Case 4: Chavan's Story:

Then there are women like Nanda Chavan, a housewife, who is now one of the Directors of the credit and cooperative society. Stepping out of her home at her daughter's insistence, she motivated 27 domestic maids in her locality to become members of the credit society and they in turn brought in many others. "Life earlier revolved around my home; now the entire community is my home," she says with a broad and confident smile.

Case 5: Indian Dairy Cooperative Societies:

Traditionally, India's dairy cooperative societies have been run by men, but this is gradually changing. Gujarat in fact, spearheaded the 'Operation Flood' movement in the 1970s, which sought to maximize milk production and profits through scientific techniques and attempted to free milk producers from the tyranny of middle persons. This was an initiative by Dr. Verghese Kurien, chairperson of the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) and architect of the Gujarat dairy cooperative movement. The GCMMF is the apex body under which all the 12 district cooperative unions in Gujarat function. The Surendranagar dairy is one such cooperative.

According to 'Dairy India' - a publication on the dairy industry - recently, of an all-India total of 9.2 million cooperative members, 1.63 million (18 per cent) are women. Around 2,500 all-women cooperatives are functioning in the country. However, women constitute less than three per cent of diary cooperative board members.

Today, several NGOs are working to change this scenario to be more inclusive of women. The Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA), Ahmedabad, Gujarat was the first one to start the concept of all-women dairy cooperatives in the Banaskantha district. This scheme is implemented by women members of SEWA, now organised into the Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas Association. SEWA has also revived some defunct dairies in Santhalpur and Radhanpur talukas. Apart from NGOs, governmental organisations like the National Dairy Development Board have also organised special training programmes for women in modern livestock management. More than 860,000 women participated in this educational programme.

The Deepak Charitable Trust (DCT), a Vadodara-based NGO, has also been actively promoting women's dairies in Vadodara district since the mid-1990s, especially now - as part of the state government's Livelihood Restoration Project for areas affected by the January 2001 earthquake - since 2001.

Mr. McAlindon says, "Discrimination has not gone away but, where it exists, it is losing its ability to demoralize and demotivate women".

Women are succeeding by becoming first and foremost an executive who happens to be a woman and not the other way round. Overall, women are concentrating more on opportunity than on discrimination. Gender bias also shows up in attitudes, such as the fact that 41% strongly agreed that women in their company have an equal chance as men to reach the senior management level.

No one really recalls when and how the ground shifted to give way for the Indian Woman Entrepreneur, although some dramatic changes were seen from the 1990s. Dr. Manu Chandaria, Comcraft Group of Companies and a prominent member of the Indian Community in Kenya, says, "In the early 1990s, we realized that several up-coming businesses had Indian women as sole directors. At that time we did not take serious note of them. We imagined that the group was just a passing crowd. However, they have proved us wrong. Today, their companies are playing in the top leagues".

When Software Technologies Ltd., an Information Technology firm, owned by Jyoti Mukherjee, was nominated as Africa's premier outfit offering IT solutions by the Business Club of Africa, it confirmed the arrival of Asian businesswoman in Africa and announced a changing phase in ownership of African businesses.

Mukherjee arrived in Kenya from India, as a 28 year old, mother of two. She joined her husband, who was working as a salesman. With her savings, she set up a shop at Nairobi's Parklands suburb, which is heavily populated by the Indian Community. Today, the firm is one of the biggest software distribution companies in the region and is East Africa's sole representative of Oracle.

Constraints & Compromises:

The common practice of selecting occupations for women on the basis that women are only supplementary income providers has resulted in their large-scale exploitation. A major hurdle for trained women is the initiation into independent professional work. Families routinely provide financial and emotional support for sons. Parents and daughters together need to be convinced that the skills learned in the polytechnics could provide them with profitable occupations. In women's institutes, therefore, there is a strong case for introducing an additional year of training when the pupils who have been taught skills are put to work in training-cum-production workshops, whose produce is sold and income earned.

When women enter business, they have to compromise on familial and social circles. This has a direct implication on the business. In a discussion paper, "Constraints on Women Entrepreneurship Development in Kerala: An analysis of familial, social, and psychological dimension, Nirmala Karuna D'Cruz, brought about the correlation between the compromises made by women and their impact on the enterprise. This is shown as below:

Compromise Made Impact made on the Enterprise

In Aptitude, in choice of enterprise,

In Mobility in Location, Nature, Marketing etc.,

In Independence in Developing Contacts, Networking,

In Family responsibilities in Work-Home conflict and Frustration, and

In Social commitments in Growth and Diversification

A particular compromise sets off a series of changes which may have psychological implications on the women, and this often goes unnoticed. Since the planning stage of a business enterprise, a woman counts upon family support. Thus, any suggestion from the family to change the nature or location of enterprise to suit the familial and social circumstances is well-accepted by the women. The help of the family in the management of the business often ends up in the enterprises "not being their own".

Another area of concern is the stagnation in the growth of women entrepreneurs. This arises due to a number of reasons:

Demands of household duties

Mobility problems

Hostility and resentment within their family

Lack of managerial and technical skills

Financial difficulties

Discrimination in gaining access to and control over essential services

Low access to information

Problems in negotiation with Government officials

Networking is most critical and controversial area.

Rathore & Chabra (1991), in their paper on 'Promotion of Women Entrepreneurship-Training Strategies' state that Indian women find it increasingly difficult to adjust themselves to the dual role that they have to play as traditional housewives and compete with men in the field of business and industry.

Developing Women Entrepreneurs:

The size and the nature of activities of women's enterprises show their low risk-taking tendency. Higher a woman is educated, the higher are her chances of success in business. However, social and psychological factors act as impediments to the growth and success of women entrepreneurs. Family support, particularly at the initial stages of starting a business is an important factor. For developing women entrepreneurs and their participation in entrepreneurial activities, efforts in all directions are required simultaneously. The following are some suggestions in this regard:

Effective and extensive educational facilities to be provided for women as a specific target group.

Adequate training on management skills, leadership skills and professional competence to be provided to women.

Counseling to be provided to remove psychological barriers, like fear of failure and lack of confidence.

Gender sensitization training to be provided to financers for treating women with equality.

Entrepreneurial attitudes to be started at the high school level by designing courses in this regard.

More Governmental schemes to motivate women entrepreneurs.

Establishing agencies to assist women and to provide them business support.

India has many schemes for women like, Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP), Training of Rural Youth for Self-Employment (TRYSEM), Women's Development Corporation Scheme (WDCS), Working Women's Forum, Indira Mahila Yojana, Indira Mahila Kendra, Rashtriya Mahila Kosh, Indira Priyadarshini Yojana, SBI's Sree Shakti Scheme etc.

Conclusion:

Women entrepreneurship plays an important role in modernizing societies and changing the attitudes of people towards women. This enables the Governments to make a better use of the economic potential of women. A need exists to avoid stereotyping women entrepreneurs as "necessity driven" or as setting up businesses that lack growth potential [Smallbone and Welter (2003)]. Although, many women are driven to start a business enterprise by the need to raise family income, this does not necessarily determine their subsequent development path, which may involve more 'opportunity recognition'.

Models of entrepreneurship are historically male based and have become inadequate when used to explain the experiences of women as entrepreneurs. Little attempts have been made to discover the underlying experiences of women entrepreneurs and how they emerge into the entrepreneurial arena.

Women have been able to make a mark in business because -

They want to improve their mettle in innovation

They take up challenging jobs

They balance between their families, responsibilities and business levels

They want opportunities for self-fulfillment

Women have mastered anything and everything which a woman can dream of. But she still has to go a long way to achieve equal status in the minds of men.

The desire of women can be best summed up in the following lines of a song of an African woman:

I have only one request.

I do not ask for money

Although I have need of it,

I do not ask for meat . . .

I have only one request,

And all I ask is

That you remove

The road block

From my path.

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