India’s patriarchy is perhaps most evident in its tech sector as there are hardly any start-ups founded by women. The government and the tech industry are set to change that while creating millions of jobs in the process too.
According to Nassom, India’s main tech industry body, only about 8% to 10% of Indian entrepreneurs are women. That trails way behind the US that boasts 39% privately-held firms owned by women according to a report by American Express.
‘Hopefully, in the next three to four years’ time, the number of women entrepreneurs, technology-led, will be drastically changed,’ KS Vishwanathan, vice president of industry initiatives at Nasscom, said at a conference in New Delhi on Tuesday.
The event was organized by Facebook (FB), which highlighted its own initiatives to promote women entrepreneurship.
‘We need a lot of work to make sure women are coming ahead and running a tech business,’ said Satyajeet Singh, Facebook’s head of platform partnerships in India.
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The company has been organizing meetups and mentorship programs for over 170 women entrepreneurs in 24 Indian cities since last year, Singh added.
A survey commissioned by Facebook last year found that four out of five women in India wish to become entrepreneurs and that the country is missing out on millions of potential new businesses and jobs by failing to empower them.
Like Facebook, Google (GOOGL) also has a program to support Indian women who want to launch startups, while the number of women who have signed up for a Nasscom program to train for a career in tech is ‘tremendously high’ at 4,000 to 5,000 people, said Vishwanathan.
The Indian government has also launched several programs aimed at helping women-led startups.
‘It’s a very interesting time to be a female entrepreneur right now,’ said Meenakshi Gupta Jain, founder, and CEO of Helper4U, adding that the environment is ‘very conducive’ for women looking to start a business.
Jain founded Helper 4U in 2014, an online database which helps domestic helpers find employment. She was supported in building her business by a handful of programs, including one for women entrepreneurs that helped her do a mini MBA program.
Without such programs ‘it would not have been possible to reach where we are now,’ she said at the event on Tuesday.
Facebook’s research showed that only 2% of funds raised by Indian startups in 2017 went to female founders. Such stats show that there is still a long way to go on the issue of female empowerment in the tech sector.
The country also has one of the lowest female employment participation rates in the world. Only about 27% of Indian women aged 15 or older were classified as working or actively looking for a job, according to recent data published by the World Bank.
A report published by McKinsey earlier this year said India could add as much as $770 billion to its already fast-growing economy by addressing gender inequality in the workforce.