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As we see it | India News – Times of India

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No male co-founder, no funding. Female entrepreneurs have long complained about how hard it is to raise money, but things are finally looking up in India. Following the success of founders like Nykaa’s Falguni Nayar, Mamaearth’s Ghazal Alagh and Sugar’s Vineeta Singh who went on to take their startups to unicorn status, more women, both salaried professionals and homemakers, are starting their own ventures and getting funded too
Data shows female-led startups are rising
As per Women in Startup Ecosystem Report (WISER) released in October, the share of women-led startups in India has risen to 18% of the overall startup ecosystem in 2022, from 10% in 2017.The startup landscape too underwent an expansion in this period, going from 6,000 startups to 80,000 last year. Of the unicorns in this period, 17% were women-led. The report also mentions that the work environment in women-led startups is more conducive for other women to grow. It says that startups with a woman founder have 2.5 times more women in senior roles compared to male-founded startups.

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And they are getting funded too
Additionally, data from startup tracking firm Traxcn shows that from 2014 to 2023, 25% of women-led startups received funding. The general pool’s funding during the same time period was just about 9%.
Vikram Gupta of IvyCap Ventures says female investors have made a lot of difference in the space in the last few years. “You have investors like Vani Kola and women-focused funds like She Capital that help women entrepreneurs,” he says. “Additionally, there are incubators where women can train as entrepreneurs. Those efforts will have an effect in another four-five years maybe,” he adds.
Anisha Singh, founder of She Capital which focuses on women-led startups, said that unlike the global ecosystem, more and more women founders in India are getting funded. She added that till a few years ago, women had problems in raising funds because the number of women entrepreneurs in the market was so low. “Now you go anywhere you will find women pitching ideas, and working on their startups,” she added. She, however, added that the number of female VCs was not at par with the male VCs.

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Supportive ecosystem
Besides incubators like the one at Indian Institute of Management Bangalore which help women all the way from ideation to implementation, there are also platforms like Women Entrepreneurship Program (WEP), a unified access portal which brings together women from different parts of India to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem. “Through a publicprivate partnership, we have brought in government, corporations and foundations,” WEP mission director Anna Roy told TOI.Networking is a barrier that women face but now WhatsApp groups are helping women entrepreneurs reach out to make connections. Sonal Jaitly, global lead, Gender Equality and Social Inclusion, Microsave Consulting is a part of one such group. She said it is a place where peer-to-peer connect is possible. “The conversation varies. Someday someone is sharing their achievement, while others are asking each other for help. A lot of market connections have happened just through these groups,” added Jaitly.
Several hurdles persist
Jaitly points out that majority of the women’s entrepreneurship lies in the informal space. “For entrepreneurs in the informal sector, it’s a bigger challenge because they don’t own collateral or have an active banking history. For loans above a certain size, you need collateral. Even Rs 3-5 lakh ticket size is difficult to get for women. Women do not own landed assets, which is the most common form of collateral,” she said.
Some female entrepreneurs also spoke about bias while pitching their ideas to VCs. An entrepreneur who wished to remain anonymous, said sometimes there are ideas that men do not understand. “It’s difficult to pitch an idea about menstrual cups or rash-free pads to men. They understand sanitary pads, yes, but what’s the purpose of a rash-free pad? How does one explain that?” she said.Others were asked about the absence of male co-founders in the team. Srishti Gupta, a Gurugram-based entrepreneur, said that when she was pitching to an investment fund, she was asked to add her husband’s name as co-founder. “They often do not trust solo female founders. This is very common in the startup sector,” she said. Harini S, a software engineer from Hyderabad, said that when she pitched her startup idea with a female colleague to a room full of men, she faced similar questions. “We were questioned about not having a man as a co-founder. What happens when you get married, or go on a maternity break we were asked. Will a man ever be asked such questions?”
Stats stack

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GENDER NEWS FROM THE WORLD
Papal approval for same-sex marriages
Pope Francis has said that Roman Catholic priests can bless same-sex and “irregular” couples. This is a big step forward — but it still allows priests to choose on a case-to-case basis. The church’s position remains that marriage is between a man and woman
Seen and heard
Art that dances
Cartoon Natyam is a fascinating project by Veena Basavarajaiah featuring art about Bharatanatyam. It takes an inquisitive and somewhat critical look at the culture around the dance form. In one cartoon, a male dancer feels self-conscious that he’d be bullied for dancing. Another common theme is the ubiquity of bodyshaming of dancers that exists, questioning the idea that there is an “ideal” body type for Bharatanatyam.
Grandma’s cat connection

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Japanese photographer Miyoko Ihara’s lovely images depict the relationship between her grandmother and her cat. The photos are heartwarming — her grandma sits in front of her birthday cake as the cat licks her face, while in another, they both paw at their faces in an eerily similar manner.



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