FACT: More than 55% of Fortune 500 companies now have executive leaders with a clear mission to drive diversity and inclusion. (Forbes Diverse Employers Survey, 2022)
Fact: Out of 28,000 startups in India, only around 18% have female founders. Moreover, this percentage is similar at all stages of funding. (Report 2023 to create 10 times more female founders than her in India, joint research with TiE Delhi-NCR, Zinnov, Google, NetApp, Indian Angel Network)
Despite female founders leading the way in India’s startup ecosystem, building successful multi-billion dollar businesses and many more to come, many challenges remain for women to become entrepreneurs. hinder it. However, there is a fundamental shift in the outlook, and the momentum to welcome more women entrepreneurs is shifting from governments (both central and state), businesses and industry associations to ecosystem orchestrators and investors. are snowballing across the ecosystem (venture capital companies, angel investors, etc.) – playing a key role in making this possible.
Women entrepreneurship also took center stage at G20 Empower 2023 in India. Venture capitalists have introduced women-focused funds and programs such as SheCapital and StrongHer that only support companies founded or co-founded by women. Initiatives like Sequoia Spark provide grants, knowledge and networks to support prominent start-ups founded or co-founded by women. Companies have taken steps to promote female founders, as represented by programs such as NetApp and her ExcellerateHER on Google for Startups, and have focused on supporting female entrepreneurs in recent years.
How companies can promote female entrepreneurship
There are two main ways companies can play their part.
1. Reconfigure existing open innovation programs to adopt a gender lens
“Given our focus on tech startups, are there enough female founders in the tech industry?”
This question was asked by a program manager at GCC, headquartered in the United States, about how an organization could support female founders while focusing on the primary objective of validating synergies between companies and startups through proof-of-concepts (POCs). That’s what I posed when I tried to conceptualize what could be done. . This question highlights a very real concern that many open innovation program leaders have when thinking in terms of gender: concerns about the gender demographics of the supply side in the field.
In a recent collaborative study, we discovered thatCreate 10x more female founders in India‘ said that women are present in similar areas and themes as male founders, even though the number of female founders in India is only 18%. This is probably due to the demand and funding needed for female entrepreneurship in these sectors. If a company is looking to launch an open innovation program targeting a particular sector, it is likely that 16% to 18% of the founders/co-founders of the startup are women, making it gender-neutral. You should consider adding perspective. to the program.
The next question companies need to answer is how to incorporate a gender perspective into their programs. Here are two notable examples captured in the study.
Case 1: NetApp ExcellerateHER is a DeepTech-focused startup program that applied a gender lens to intentionally seek out female founders as part of the Excellerator cohort, then launched the “ExcellerateHER” brand to develop DeepTech solutions. started attracting more female founders. their program. She also made some changes to her program offering, but kept the core of her Excellerator worthwhile for any startup, regardless of gender. With this move, the company is now partnering with a startup founded/co-founded by a woman with her 25% of POC.
Case 2: Google for Startups, an open innovation program launched in 2016, typically attracting 5% of startup applications from female founders, decided in 2018 to introduce a gender perspective Did. The team has started running boot her camps, events and knowledge sessions. Focus on female founders. This also created great confidence in the demographics of the supply side, improving the pipeline until submissions from female founders reached 35% of hers. In 2022, we will launch another open innovation track for female founders.
What the snippet above highlights is that both open innovation teams had similar starting points. They started their journey by attracting and engaging female founders, built confidence on the supply side, and broke through the gender-lensed approach that now works for them. their structure. India currently has over 85 corporate-run open innovation programs, but few have a gender perspective. But with strong intentions and sound strategies in each of these companies, they can play an important role in promoting women entrepreneurship.
2. Program introduction and collaboration at the idea stage
“While the absolute number of female founders has increased over the past decade, the percentage has remained the same.shared by the founder of a women-focused VC fund during our research. When we evaluated startups founded in the last decade, we found something similar. Up to 18% year-over-year of registered startups are founded/co-founded by women.
To understand why this percentage remains consistently low, we conducted a study to see if women are less entrepreneurial. We asked more than 370 business and technology employees if they would like to start a business in the next five years. Ultimately, women were found to exhibit similar intentions towards entrepreneurship compared to men. In fact, they were her one percentage point higher. However, gender roles are fixed, making it difficult for women to realize entrepreneurship as a career option.
But when women decide to take the plunge, they are just as successful as men.
Ecosystem players, including companies, must therefore play a role in eliciting the entrepreneurial intentions of women and supporting them in starting their own businesses. Companies can also support women at the idea stage by partnering with governments and non-corporate accelerators that work with women in their early entrepreneurial stages. Niti Aayog’s WEP platform and WEE Foundation are two of her platforms with multiple corporate partners. While it’s heartening to see women founders breaking down more barriers in their path, true equity is far from reality.
Companies and their open innovation teams are critical in advancing the women entrepreneurship agenda by removing some of these barriers and enabling more women and girls to pursue entrepreneurship as a career. can play a role. The road to equity is a long one, but one that requires buy-in and collaboration from the larger ecosystem and is feasible.