Women have since time immemorial been entrepreneurs in their own right. The dictionary meaning of the word entrepreneur is someone who exercises initiative by organizing a venture to take benefit of an opportunity and, as the decision maker, decides what, how, and how much of a good or service will be produced. A bored housewife who sets up a small day care centre in her own home or a hard working housewife who decides to supplement the household income by preparing pickles and papads and selling them within her circle are both leveraging their talents and setting up an enterprise. While one decides to build an enterprise by offering her services as a baby sitter, the other builds a small enterprise around the specific products she is comfortable preparing and selling. This, dear listeners, is the seed of entrepreneurship that lies deep within every woman.
We have to now understand that world over the traditional set up is changing in the modern era. The social fabric of society is undergoing a transformation, in terms of increased educational status of women and varied aspirations for better living. Media is bringing in images from all over the world into people’s homes. This is necessitating a change in the life style of women both in urban as well as in rural areas.
Today’s woman is educated, well aware of the opportunities around her and bides her time to reinvent herself when the time is ripe. While some may do it to make both ends meet, there are others who want to make use of their skills and talents and also spend time usefully. Thus we have well to do wives of actors like Sharukh Khan and Akshay Kumar who are entrepreneurs in their own right working as interior designers and manufacturer of perfumed candles. The internet is full of inspiring tales of women, whether they are from small towns or large cities, women who have made a success of their passion.
The birth of the internet and online platform is a boon to women who need not travel from their homes or look out to rent space for their ventures. Cake bakers, card makers, clothes designers are all having it good now as they have tasted success. Marketing, in the days gone by, was the work of men as it involved mobility and confidence in dealing with an unfamiliar world. But the advent of social media like facebook and online marketing has greatly helped in letting the world know about your creation.
What do women need to make a success of their skills? First, identify the skills that you are confident or comfortable with. Speak to your loved ones about your plans. Taking immediate family members like husband, parents and children into confidence will help women to steer ahead boldly and creatively. You can even take some time to polish a skill to equip yourself better before plunging headlong into enterprise. Fear of failure is one single factor that prevents women from taking the plunge. It is better to have tried than not to have at all. Everything is a learning experience and has to be viewed in this context only. The learning will prove invaluable to avoid mistakes in future.
But what happens when women do not have the support of a solid family. Fear not, as we can always bank on likeminded friends to take an idea forward. The Grameen bank set up in many parts of rural India is a perfect example for this kind of an enterprise. With the availability of micro financing schemes, women have formed self help groups to set up small enterprises to lead a life of dignity and self sufficiency without depending on their wayward, drunk husbands. Enterprises set up by women succeed because of their hard work, ability to multi task and self motivation. For women in lower rungs much depends on the success of their enterprise like quality upbringing of their children and a break from the monotonous life of subservience. This is an example worth emulating in Kenyan society as well.
Women need skill training, vocational education and entrepreneurship development if they have to compete and become the best. This need not be the job of government alone. Other interested stakeholders can also shoulder this responsibility. Women entrepreneurs have changed the dynamics in society and economy is thriving and improving and many academicians are focusing on this emerging phenomenon which is going to only increase in the coming years.