Being a woman entrepreneur may be aspirational for many, but is it easy being one? As people celebrate women entrepreneurship day on Sunday, many of them say entrepreneurship is not for the faint-hearted and it's important to have self-belief in a path strewn with bureaucratic and gender obstacles.
"Yes, it has been a man's world. Almost 10 years back when I took charge of the business there were a lot of insecurities in the minds of the people. People had also tried to buy out the business. But I remained strong. I had a mission to complete. I had to make the business bigger and stronger," said Anasuya Gupta, Chairperson and Managing Director, Cico Group.
Gupta was a homemaker who was forced by circumstances to turn entrepreneur. She took up the task after her husband's demise.
"Today I realise the opportunities of being an entrepreneur. I had the opportunity by accident, but now I understand what it is like to be an entrepreneur. In Cico itself I have changed the ratio of senior leadership. Now 50 per cent of the top leadership is women. Women are more empathetic and are good listeners, which helps in decision-making," she added.
She said financial independence and financial decision-making powers for women were important, but one should not seek extra benefits. "If we want women empowerment, we also have to be at a level playing field with men. We can't ask for extra opportunity for being a woman," she said.
Women's Entrepreneurship Day was started by social entrepreneur and humanitarian Wendy Diamond, who's now the CEO of Women's Entrepreneurship Day Organisation, a privately-owned philanthropic set-up which aims to empower women and girls globally.
But in India, how difficult is the entrepreneurship journey for women?
"Entrepreneurship is a very challenging task. It is a lonely path. It is important to have self-belief regardless of what the naysayers have to say. Persistence is one of the key elements in entrepreneurship," remarked Upasana Taku, Co-founder and Director, MobiKwik.
She also mentioned that for a women entrepreneur, family background is very important. "Some families make it easier, some make it harsher or harder. I started the company when I was single, my parents are pro-career, so it was easier for me," she said. MobiKwik is a financial technology company.
Talking about work-life balance, on a lighter note, Taku said: "My start-up was my baby. Now the baby has grown up and is an eight-year-old. And now I have a two-year-old toddler of my own."
Shelly Singh, Co-Founder and Chief Business Officer, at PeopleStrong, who started her journey as an entrepreneur 12 years back, felt women should aim higher in life.
"I come from a middle class family. My parents ensured the best education for me. I worked in two places before embarking on this journey of entrepreneurship. In both the places I worked in the human resource (HR) development team. I have always felt that something needs to be done in the HR space. I wanted to build a scale company," said Singh. PeopleStrong deals in HR services and solutions.
She said the mentoring eco-system for women entrepreneurs is very weak in India. "If you get the right mentor, your journey becomes smoother."
"Women have their own mental blocks. If they aim for it, they can achieve it," she added.
Taking about work-life balance, Singh said: "We women do not have to be super in everything we do. Being super in everything is not possible. It is okay if one fails in one area."
"We have to set ground rules for ourselves. Entrepreneurship is also an inward journey. If someone likes luxury, then do not get into entrepreneurship. There will be failure and there will be massive failures. It is not for faint-hearted people," she said.
Singh added: "Women really do not dream big. Women aim for limited economic freedom. Women are born networkers, they are good at social lives and are more empathetic as bosses."