The toughest challenge you faced as a woman entrepreneur and how you overcame it?
The biggest challenge that I had to overcome as an entrepreneur was that of establishing my credibility as I was a 25-year-old woman starting off on the path of entrepreneurship in the male-dominated society of the Seventies. Sourcing capital for my business venture was tough, as no bank was ready to provide me with a loan because of my gender. Some of the financiers I approached even went as far as suggesting that I name my father as my custodian to obtain a loan. I was also told continually that a woman can never handle labour unions and vendors or for that matter manage male employees. What’s more, potential recruits turned me down because the thought of working for a start-up headed by a woman would not provide them with job security.
I was determined to succeed and refused to give up when faced by seemingly insurmountable challenges. Over time I was able to establish my credibility and convince the world of the value of my idea, which I then scaled up into a viable business.
What are the challenges faced by an entrepreneur and additional challenges faced by women entrepreneurs?
Entrepreneurs have to deal with a host of challenges right from articulating a sustainable business model to getting people to invest in their ventures, to attracting employees and then scaling up their enterprises.
However, what makes the going tougher for women is the constant pressure to prove their credibility as entrepreneurs. There is a persistent myth that women are not business savvy and hence ‘high risk,’ which makes it an uphill task for them to obtain financing. There is also the myth that women are incapable of leadership, which deters good professionals from joining women-led start-ups.
यह भी पढ़ें : शिव सहज व एप्रोचेबल हैं
How do you define success and failure?
I believe that if you have a vision, a plan and the conviction you should follow it and success will come to you. I also believe there is nothing permanent about failure, and you need to get up and try again and again. It’s only when you give up that you fail.
Do you think role models are important? If yes, who is your role model and why?
Yes, they are. One of my role models was Mr N. R. Narayana Murthy.When Narayana Murthy started Infosys, nobody believed that software services could be such a big opportunity or that India had the skill base to offer such high-end services to the developed world. There was general worldwide scepticism of India’s scientific and technical capabilities. Against this backdrop, Narayana Murthy broke global myths and built Infosys as a highly credible, technology-led, world class enterprise - a global brand of leading edge excellence.
What advice will you give to a woman who plans to embark on her entrepreneurial journey?
To succeed you need to be innovative, flexible and adaptable in your approach towards building your enterprise. Here are some of the lessons that I have learnt in my long entrepreneurial journey:
1. Be a Pioneer. Don’t be afraid of taking the road less travelled. A pioneering spirit more often than not separates the leaders from the followers.
2. Focus on innovation. Being innovative not only brings rich rewards, it also allows you to stay ahead of others.
3. Adapt constantly. Unless you adapt to change your business or ideas will become redundant and you will lose out in the long run.
4. Prudently balance risk. Sometimes to win big you have to take calculated risks.
5. Learn to Persevere: It requires the courage of your conviction and perseverance of your efforts to overcome disappointments and failures that are intrinsic to entrepreneurship.
यह भी पढ़ें : 10 दीवानों की ये दुनिया
Why there are so few women entrepreneurs in our country?
It is true that women remain highly underrepresented within the entrepreneurial ecosystem in India despite constituting 50% of the country’s population. In fact, India has been ranked in the last 5 among 30 countries surveyed by the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute on how female entrepreneurs fare in the world.A study based in Karnataka found that about 90% women entrepreneurs had only their own funding to rely on, while 68% found it tougher to get bank loans.The reluctance of investors to fund businesses funded by women a big reason for the low numbers.
However, the situation is changing. We are witnessing the emergence of venture capital (VC) funds such as the SAHA Fund, which is India's first SEBI-approved VC fund focused on women entrepreneurs. The fund not only invests in startups run by women founders and those with majority women employees, it also invests in companies that are creating services or products for women and children.
How do you see the role of government in promoting women entrepreneurship?
In recent times the government has taken affirmative action in terms of financial support, incentives and subsidies for women entrepreneurs. The Indian government has in 2016 approved Rs 8,000-crore in funds that will stand guarantee for loans to new ventures and also announced ‘Stand up India’ scheme for credit facilities to SC, ST and women entrepreneurs at lower rates.
A lot still needs to be done. India needs to build an enabling ecosystem that unleashes the entrepreneurial energy of women in the country. An ecosystem that relies on: the ease of starting a business, skill availability, reliable infrastructure, and access to capital.
The government also needs to nurture entrepreneurship among rural women through a community-based approach. Village self-help groups should be provided with the necessary training, access to financial assistance and access to market so that they can achieve entrepreneurial success.
यह भी पढ़ें : मासूम मुस्कान को मिले खुला आसमान
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is Chairperson & Managing Director of Biocon Limited. She is a pioneer of the biotechnology industry in India and the founder of the country’s leading biotechnology enterprise, Biocon. She has been named among TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. As a global influencer, she is ranked among Forbes magazine’s ‘100 Most Powerful Women’ and Fortune’s ‘Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Asia-Pacific.’ More recently, she was named among the ‘100 Leading Global Thinkers’ by Foreign Policy magazine. She has received two of India's highest civilian honours, the Padma Shri (1989) and the Padma Bhushan (2005).
इस इंटरव्यू को हिंदी में पढ़ने के लिए यहां क्िलक करें
Interview by Mayank Shukla