Empowering women to become entrepreneurs

Project description

Title: Economic Empowerment of Women Entrepreneurs and Start-ups by Women
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: India
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship
Overall term: 2018 to 2021


To achieve sustainable economic growth in India and create jobs, women must play a greater role in the economy as employees and entrepreneurs. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), the employment rate among Indian women is currently just 27 per cent. The United Nations reports that this means they make only a 17 per cent contribution to India’s gross domestic product (GDP). The International Monetary Fund estimates that equal participation of women in the labour market would increase India’s GDP by 27 per cent. A current focus of the Indian Government’s economic policy is on encouraging entrepreneurship – and, in the process, particularly on supporting female entrepreneurs.

However, Indian women face a host of challenges if they wish to become entrepreneurs. Just 14 per cent of all Indian enterprises are run by women, and most of these are in the informal sector. This means, for instance, that they are not officially registered. The environment is not favourable towards Indian women who might want to set up and/or advance their own business.

For example, it is difficult for female entrepreneurs to access funding, as banks and investors frequently rate a business run by women as more risky. In contrast to men, women often have less contact with business networks, which significantly restricts their market access. Further challenges arise as a result of social norms and traditional gender roles that make it much more difficult for women to take on paid work. Their mobility is often limited by family obligations in the household, bringing up children and by safety concerns. State institutions and programmes that promote business start-ups and existing enterprises frequently do not pay adequate attention to the specific challenges and limitations facing women-led businesses.


The framework conditions for businesses managed by women in India are improved.


The lead executing agency and key implementation partner of the project is the Indian Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. The project works closely together with local partners in the selected regions (Northeast, Rajasthan and Telangana).

Together with the partners, a support programme is being developed that is specifically geared towards the needs of women. The programme supports Indian women in founding start-ups and in growing their existing businesses.

The project advises the partner ministry as well as other state institutions with regard to gender-sensitive design of key state support schemes for enterprises. It uses the pilot experiences of the support programme for this purpose.

Under the name of ‘Her&Now’, a film and media campaign encourages public debate about the great potential of women-led businesses with the goal of contributing to a transformation of traditional norms.