India is set to become the third largest economy by 2031
, entrepreneurship has become a critical driver of national economies given transformations in the global economy, technological advancements, novel innovations and changing demographics (Rao & Kalyani, 2017). Indian Entrepreneurship will prove to be a catalyst of social change in the country, innovation, and job and capital generation and overall economic progress- making entrepreneurship critical for poverty alleviation, sustained personal and national growth, enhancement of living standards and overall well-being of society. Although small and medium enterprises (SMEs) globally tend to face similar challenges to growth, women-led businesses face significant additional structural and cultural barriers to gender.Due to cultural and structural barriers, especially faced by rural women entrepreneurs, they are often unable to access the assistance they require to become more credit-worthy, more viable suppliers for corporate buyers and create more sustainable businesses. It is reported
that only 30% of rural women are engaged in economic activity. As a result, rural women entrepreneurs lack the skills, exposure, awareness and knowledge required to grow their businesses
To address the issues faced by rural women entrepreneurs, TNS India Foundation has developed a comprehensive mentoring program to push women to break social and cultural barriers and polish their entrepreneurial skills to establish and grow their own businesses. This program has three main components:
- Providing skill training and assistance to help women entrepreneurs grow and sustain their SGBs. Training curriculum will include aspects of personal financial literacy training (e.g. managing household finances, utilizing personal financial services effectively, etc.), farming as a Business (developed in-house based on adult learning principles and derived from learning from our past rural-agri entrepreneurship programs) and handheld support to develop business plans for women-led businesses.
- Strengthen SGBEs access to markets and services by working closely with the management of existing women-led SGBss to increase the organization’s female membership base as well as to enhance women’s role in the organization’s leadership, develop women SBGleaders’ ability, alongside male leaders, to manage business operational functions, develop partnerships with financial institutions to improve the women –led SGBs’ access to commercial finance to support growth, developing banking and online skills in beneficiaries and providing training and helping gain access to digital sales platform and entry-level mobile device in order to use apps like WhatsApp, Facebook (Marketplace), Google (Pay), Youtube, and Paytm among others.
- Increase access to financing for women entrepreneurs by providing support in quantifying their financing needs and improve creditworthiness based on results from a comprehensive cost and investment analysis and creditworthiness assessment for the program SGBs, organizing documentation, loan application, and support to persuasively sell their creditworthiness and through working with existing SGBs to increase women’s access to market inputs, valuable services and financing.