Upping female entrepreneurship can add 150 million new jobs

02 March 2020 Consultancy.in 4 min. read

In a new report, Bain & Company and Google reveal that promoting higher levels of female entrepreneurship could generate anywhere between 150 million and 170 million jobs over the next decade. At present, however, female employment numbers in India are dismal, and deteriorating.

Historical and cultural factors have positioned women at the extreme margins of economic growth in India. The resultant structural inequality has created a scenario where policies geared towards inclusion might take years, if not decades, to fully integrate women into the economy.

Boston Consulting Group (BCG) report from 2017 revealed that even gender equality initiatives that have been taken in the business environment have been ineffective due to social and behavioural barriers. A 2018 McKinsey & Company report, meanwhile, revealed that India was among the poorest performers in the world when it comes to gender parity.

Need for job creation amongst Indian women

Bain & Company’s latest report, compiled in collaboration with Google, provides figures that illustrate the high levels of inequality. The female working age population in India amounts to more than 430 million, of which over 340 million are either unemployed or not engaged in the formal sector and therefore not paid for their efforts.

What is worse is that the current levels of female participation in the workforce are stagnating. Several recommendations have been made on how to proceed with gender parity efforts. Big Four accounting and advisory firm Deloitte, for instance, suggested in a report last year that efforts be made to equip women with Industry 4.0-relevant skills, which will place them among the most coveted segments of the modern workforce.

Bain’s report, meanwhile, focuses on the potential of women entrepreneurship, particularly in light of the financial independence that it offers. The global management consultancy reports that there are approximately 15 million women-owned enterprises in India at present, although this number is not as impressive as it may seem.

India's labour force participation amongst women

“While large in absolute numbers, these are overwhelmingly comprised of single person enterprises, which provide direct employment for an estimated 22 to 27 million people. Further, a number of enterprises reported as women- owned are not in fact controlled or run by women,” states the report. 

A shift in this scenario, meanwhile, could be tremendously beneficial for the economy. In India were to pursue international benchmarks of gender parity and female entrepreneurship, the country could be home to 30 million women-owned enterprises that extend beyond just self-employment or proxy ownership.

Economic analysts have long stressed that better gender inclusivity can be of great monetary value to countries across the globe. By Bain’s estimates, if India were to surpass the international benchmark, it could create between 150 million and 170 million jobs leading up to 2030.

Demographic composition of unemployed women

Provided that these targets are met, this scenario alone could account for 25% of India’s workforce requirements over the next decade. In order to realise this, however, a nuanced understanding of various market forces and factors is required. Entrepreneurs can be categorised into a number of segments, according to Bain, each with different needs and barriers. 

“For instance, while access to finance impacts nearly every entrepreneur, it manifests in the form of disparity in the investor ecosystem for the scalers, but lack of information and absence of tailored products, for rural and urban solopreneurs,” states the report.