Dear optimist, pessimist, and realist: While you guys were busy arguing about the glass of wine, I drank it! Sincerely, the opportunist!” — Lori Greiner, inventor, QVC host and ‘Shark Tank’ investor.
The fastest way to change society is to mobilize the women of the world – Charles Malik
No country can truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half its citizens – Michelle Obama
Every year, November 19 is celebrated as Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. It celebrates the momentous strides made by women all across the world, and reminds us of the collective efforts that must be made to realize the untapped potential and the hidden opportunities. Every venture needs the right ecosystem – infrastructure, network of mentors and supporters, access to cheap financial resources, great employee base, a target market that has the critical need that your product or service needs. The list is endless. And Women’s Entrepreneurship Day celebrates those women who have entered (willingly or otherwise!), fought, and succeeded in their respective businesses as entrepreneurs.
Now for a reality check.
Poverty, lack of education, abuse, dowry harassment, inequality, female infanticide, violence, discrimination, sexual harassment…the list of issues that women in India face could go on and on. So shouldn’t the country focus more on these basic issues instead of promoting entrepreneurship. Isn’t that akin to putting the cart before the horse? Should we not power women with education, safety and security before we start empowering her with entrepreneurship?
I am not a big fan of these debates that have things laid out in black and white. We could argue the same way for sending people to Mars while we have children dying in street corners. Critical paradigm shifts like boosting women in the workforce has a domino effect on women, society and the country. And at the end of the day, if it helps my vegetable vendor depend less on her alcoholic husband, if it means she has Rs 100 more to spend on her kids or herself, if it gives her hope – I say we need to get THIS ball rolling.
So while we are arguing endlessly on this chicken and egg situation as to what is needed first, three positive paradigm shifts are happening to women entrepreneurship in India this year.
- We got models! Women entrepreneurs are now role models for women all over the world. The Forbes list of most powerful global women now has five Indians – Chanda Kochhar, Roshni Nadar Malhotra, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Shobana Bhartia, and Priyanka Chopra.
- We got political backing – Luckily for India, the current political, cultural and business mindset is that entrepreneurship is necessary and that we need to set the right ecosystem for women to thrive. The battle is already half won.
- We got technology – The biggest level-playing field is technology. Education is a distant second in helping narrow the gender gap. The best part? Entrepreneurs need not be technologists; they just need to understand how to use technology to reach their markets/enhance customer experience/access finance…..
It is amidst this backdrop that the Global Entrepreneurship Summit is happening from November 28th through the 30th, at the Hyderabad International Convention Center. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and White House Advisor Ivanka Trump will inaugurate the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) with the special theme: Women First, Prosperity For All.
GES2017 promises to be a spectacular learning experience for women entrepreneurs all over the world. I will be attending the summit, and will be in Hyderabad from the 27th of November until the 1st of December.
Want to meet up at the Summit? Email me – firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me via the GES app.
Image courtesy: My awesome design team at Suyati.com!