Women Entrepreneurship

Women entrepreneurship has been recognised as an important source of economic growth. Women entrepreneurs create new jobs for themselves and others and also provide society with different solutions to management, organisation and business problems. However, they still represent a minority of all entrepreneurs. Women entrepreneurs often face gender-based barriers to starting and growing their businesses, like discriminatory property, matrimonial and inheritance laws and/or cultural practices; lack of access to formal finance mechanisms; limited mobility and access to information and networks, etc.

Women’s entrepreneurship can make a particularly strong contribution to the economic well-being of the family and communities, poverty reduction and women’s empowerment, thus contributing to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Thus, governments across the world as well as various developmental organizations are actively undertaking promotion of women entrepreneurs through various schemes, incentives and promotional measures.

Women entrepreneurs in the four southern states and Maharashtra account for over 50% of all women-led small-scale industrial units in India. Click here for a state-wise break-up of women-led SSIs


Policies and Schemes for Women Entrepreneurs in India

In India, the Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises development organisations, various State Small Industries Development Corporations, the Nationalised banks and even NGOs are conducting various programmes including Entrepreneurship Development Programmes (EDPs) to cater to the needs of potential women entrepreneurs, who may not have adequate educational background and skills. The Office of DC (MSME) has also opened a Women Cell to provide coordination and assistance to women entrepreneurs facing specific problems.

There are also several other schemes of the government at central and state level, which provide assistance for setting up training-cum-income generating activities for needy women to make them economically independent. Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) has also been implementing special schemes for women entrepreneurs.

In addition to the special schemes for women entrepreneurs, various government schemes for MSMEs also provide certain special incentives and concessions for women entrepreneurs. For instance, under Prime Minister’s Rozgar Yojana (PMRY), preference is given to women beneficiaries. The government has also made several relaxations for women to facilitate the participation of women beneficiaries in this scheme. Similarly, under the MSE Cluster Development Programme by Ministry of MSME, the contribution from the Ministry of MSME varies between 30-80% of the total project in case of hard intervention, but in the case of clusters owned and managed by women entrepreneurs, contribution of the M/o MSME could be upto 90% of the project cost. Similarly, under the Credit Guarantee Fund Scheme for Micro and Small Enterprises, the guarantee cover is generally available upto 75% of the loans extended; however the extent of guarantee cover is 80% for MSEs operated and/ or owned by women.  

Some of the special schemes for women entrepreneurs implemented by the government bodies and allied institutions are provided below.


Women Entrepreneur Associations

The efforts of government and its different agencies are supplemented by NGOs and associations that are playing an equally important role in facilitating women empowerment. List of various women associations in India is provided in the table below.

Details of Women Entrepreneur Associations in India


Association Name



Federation of Indian Women Entrepreneurs (FIWE)



Consortium of Women Entrepreneurs(CWEI)



Association of Lady Entrepreneurs of Andhra Pradesh



Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Karnataka (AWAKE)



Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA)



Women Entrepreneurs Promotion Association (WEPA)

Click here for Profile


The Marketing Organisation of Women Enterprises (MOOWES)

Click here for Profile


Bihar Mahila Udyog SanghBihar Mahila Udyog Sangh



Mahakaushal Association of Woman Entrepreneurs (MAWE)



SAARC Chamber Women Entrepreneurship Council



Women Entrepreneurs Association of Tamil Nadu (WEAT)

Click here for Profile


TiE Stree Shakti (TSS)



Women Empowerment Corporation




Success Stories of Women Entrepreneurs in India

  • Story of Dream Weavers which started with Rs 500 and now makes Rs 25 lakhs, click here to read the story.

  • Story of Patricia Narayan, Winner of Ficci Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award, click here to read the story.

  • Story of Sarala Bastian who set up a successful mushroom business with just Rs 15000, click here to read the story.

  • Success story of Kiran Majumdar Shaw, the Biocon Queen, click here to read the story.

  • Success story of Saloni Malhotra, founder of DesiCrew, click here to read the story

  • Story of Revathi Krishna, the founder of Coffee, Books and More, click here to read the story

  • Story of Lata Manohar’s boutique - Vishuddi, click here to read the story

  • Story of Radha Rajakrishnan, a successful entrepreneur in apparel business, click here to read the story.



Tips for Women Entrepreneurs

  • Start a business that works for you and your personal life
  • Research the product/ service
  • Assess the market
  • Start business with adequate funds
  • Do networking
  • Consult with professionals

Read more start-up tips for women entrepreneurs by clicking on links below:

  • Tips by Peri H. Pakroo J.D, Author of The Women's Small Business Start-Up Kit: A Step-by-Step Legal Guide, click here to read these tips
  • Tips from John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centre, University of NorthernIowa: click here to read these tips