TomorrowMakers

Women entrepreneurs have been ignored by venture capitalists for long. But they shouldn't lose heart as there are other ways to fund their ventures.

Out of the $12 billion risk capital raised by startups in 2017, only 2% - $242.7 million - went to startups founded by women. This number is lesser than the 9.2% they received in 2016 and 6% in 2015.

There isn’t any doubt that funding their venture is a huge challenge for all women entrepreneurs. Hence, they often resort to alternatives like using up their savings, selling jewellery, taking loans from family and relatives etc. to fund their startup.

However, if you are running a startup or planning to start one, it is important that you know there are other ways to fund your venture:

 

1. Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding has emerged as a viable alternative finance option for women entrepreneurs in recent years. Crowdfunding allows various individuals or institutions to put money into your project or venture. It is typically done with the help of internet. This way you don’t have to depend on or wait for an individual or institution to give you money. Many startups in India have managed to generate lakhs of capital in just a month, through crowdfunding.

There are a lot of crowdfunding sites that have been helping entrepreneurs working in fields of art, charity, medicine, technology, etc. You can also go for a crowdfunding system based on rewards wherein you barter your products or services for funds. While the concept of crowdfunding is still new in India, tech-savvy women entrepreneurs will find it extremely helpful.

2. Corporate Support

Recently, many big corporate companies have stepped forward to help startups. Founders of companies like Flipkart and Paytm are providing both financial and strategic help to some innovative startups. Even Ratan Tata - the eminent industrialist - has invested in startups, the very recent one being Nidhi Agarwal’s e-tail fashion portal Kaaryah. If you happen to know people working for such corporate firms, you can approach them for funding.

3. Angel women investors

Given the sad state of funding for ventures led by women entrepreneurs, women have stepped up to help their kind. Lately, some women investors have been keeping women entrepreneurs from getting discouraged due to lack of funding. One such example is the Saha Fund – a venture capital fund for women-specific businesses – launched by Ankita Vashistha. Saha Fund is a Rs. 100 crore company which invests only in those businesses that are run by women, employ more than 60% women employees or deliver services/make products that are targeted towards women.

So, find an angel investor who will not only fund your venture but also provide you with resources, expertise and guidance (like how to plan your taxes etc).

4. Loans

Many banks provide loans or schemes specifically to women who run a small or medium enterprise. For example, Bharatiya Mahila Bank - first all-women’s bank of the country - provides loans to women entrepreneurs for up to Rs. 20 crores (in case of a manufacturing industry).

Following are some bank schemes that aim to help women entrepreneurs:

  • Annapurna Scheme - State Bank of India
  • Stree Shakti Package for Women Entrepreneurs – State Bank of India
  • Dena Shakti Scheme – Dena Bank
  • Udyogini Scheme – Punjab and Sind Bank
  • Cent Kalyani Scheme – Central Bank of India
  • Mahila Udyam Nidhi Scheme – Small Industries Development Bank of India
  • Mahila Vikas Yojna Scheme – Oriental Bank of Commerce

But before you plan to apply for a loan, ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria set by the bank.

Conclusion:

While it isn’t easy for women to create a place for themselves in a man’s world, they can seek inspiration from the likes of Kiran Mazumdar Shaw and Ekta Kapoor who faced a lot of obstacles and yet, achieved great heights in their respective fields.

 

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