Studies have time and again shown that when women have access to financial freedom, families are lifted out of poverty, children become healthier, and it directly affects the economy of the country. With more women in the fray, they will be able to contribute to the per capita income, improve the standard of living, participate in community development, innovation, create more jobs, and so on. The society should be ready to accept more entrepreneurs because of the direct and indirect benefits that the addition of women entrepreneurs to the ecosystem creates.
The government should play an active role in promoting women entrepreneurship in India because it has the resources and the reach, and also because it is its job.
If government schemes are properly implemented, it affects the lives of millions of Indians. Out of the 1.38 lakh projects that have been set up as a part of the Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP), more than 30 percent have been set up by women. When the government creates such schemes, women are encouraged to grab the opportunity because there is a cushion of safety for them in the form of a loan or mentorship.
The Government of India has taken various steps to encourage entrepreneurship among women in the country. Let us look at some of the schemes that they have introduced.
Bharatiya Mahila Bank:
The bank was founded to provide financial assistance to underprivileged women so that they can start their own venture. For the manufacturing sector, the bank offers loans as high as Rs 20 lakh. The Bharatiya Mahila Bank can even authorise a loan of up to Rs 1 crore without asking for collateral. It was merged with the State Bank of India in 2017.
The scheme offers a loan of Rs 50,000 for women who want to set up a food catering unit. The amount granted for this loan can be used to buy utensils, kitchen equipment, and other tools. After the loan is approved, the woman doesn’t have to pay the EMI for the first month. The interest rates depend on the bank and the market rate. The recipient of the loan should have a guarantor and the loan can be paid in 36 monthly instalments. The scheme, which was launched way back in 2000, is offered by the Bharatiya Mahila Bank.
Mudra Yojana Scheme:
This scheme is for women to start a small business that doesn’t require a huge manufacturing setup – something along the lines of grocery stores, beauty parlours, tuition centers, etc. It is divided into several schemes which target businesses that are in different stages. For businesses that have just been set up, the scheme offers Rs 50,000. For businesses that have been running successfully for sometime, the scheme offers anywhere between Rs 50,000 to Rs 5 lakh.
Dena Shakti Scheme:
As the name suggests, this government scheme is provided by Dena Bank. It is targeted at women entrepreneurs who are looking to start ventures in the following fields: agricultural and allied activities, retail trade, micro-credit, education, housing, retail, and small business enterprises. It offers a waiver of 0.25 percent on the rate of interest that is charged against the loan. Women entrepreneurs are sanctioned loans of up to Rs 20 lakh for the categories of housing, retail, and education.
The Women Entrepreneurship Platform:
The platform was launched by NITI Aayog to create an ecosystem for young women entrepreneurs across the country, and has partnered with SIDBI to promote this initiative. Some of the services that the platform provides are: funding support, assistance with mentorship, corporate partnerships, free credit, and a platform to share each other’s stories and experiences. The platform is especially for women who are toying with the idea of starting a business. Registering with the ecosystem will put them in front of an audience and offer them a community that will help them achieve their goals.
Orient Mahila Vikas Yojana Scheme:
Launched by the Oriental Bank of Commerce, the scheme provides capital for women who want to start small businesses. It is eligible for women who have 51 percent share in the business. The bank offers a concession of 2 percent on the rate of interest. There is no need for collateral if the loan amount is below Rs 10 lakh. For a small scale industry setup, collateral is not required if the loan amount is less than Rs 25 lakh. The recipient of the loan should repay it within seven years.
There are many other government schemes which are targeted at women entrepreneurs. All these initiatives by the government have been designed keeping in mind the status quo of women entrepreneurship in the country. Implementing these schemes properly will be a tough ask, but doing so will make all the difference to the lives of millions of Indian women.
(Edited by Kanishk Singh)