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Uttarakhand women entrepreneurs "The Hand that Rocks the Cradle Rules the World".


The position of women and their status in any society is an index of its civilization. Women are to be considered as equal partners in the process of development. But women have been always exploited by men and treated as slaves kept under their control. Indian women have remained at the receiving end. Women in India have been the neglected lot. Women have been an active contributor to the development of a nation or a state. But their contribution is generally unrecognized and undervalued and shown a backstage. They have not been actively involved in the mainstream of development even though they represent equal proportion of the population and labour force.

Women as an independent target group, account for 495.74 million and represent 48.3 percent of the country's population, as per the 2001 census. Even after five and half decades of planned development, Indian women have not achieved expected success in the mainstream of life. Country will be unable to have a competitive edge over others until and unless the status and role of women is improved.

Woman has to play multiple roles, that of a wife, mother, sister, daughter. Similarly, she has to play money different roles in community. Playing these roles, woman sometimes submerges her self-role and her own real identity. Another role she has been playing for quite some time now is of being an earning member of the family. Doing a job or having a career is not something new for the Indian woman also. But the instances of Indian women starting a business or continuing one are not too many.

For women there are several handicaps to enter into and mange business ownership due to the deeply embedded traditional mindset and stringent values of the Indian society.

Status of Women Entrepreneurship in Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand women have been the backbone of the State's economy. They have always stood in the forefront during the struggle of State formation. Women are the mainstay of the culture and traditions of the hills. Repeatedly hill women have shown remarkable courage and participation in development programs. They were more aggressive than their male

partners for CHIPKO movement: a movement that is considered at par with Gandhi's Satyagraha. Hill women have always been the conquerors, be it the Uttarakhand movement or sharab bandi movement (movement against liquors).

The life in the hilly areas of Uttarakhand is very difficult. Despite the adverse conditions, the rural women of the area portrayed immense potential and prominence in the society. Almost all the women in the society are employed in one way or other. In some cases their status was better off than any woman living in a hi-tech city or metro like Delhi. A woman in Uttarakhand is earning Rs. 18.13 per day. This is more than the per capita income of India.

But the potential of Uttarakhand women is not being utilized fully. There is a need to raise the status and standard of women in Uttarakhand. This can be done by promoting and encouraging women entrepreneurship that will give them social and economic freedom.

Uttarakhand women have always been emerged as a stand-by of the rural economy due to their total involvement with agriculture, forest protection, cattle care and dairying. The male members of the family usually migrate to towns to earn living. Thus, women in villages become the heads of the family. Even where the men continue to reside in the villages, it is the women and girls who look after the agriculture and cattle.

They live in close harmony with nature and environment and help to maintain the traditions of Uttarakhand agriculture and quality of life. In agriculture and animal care, women contribute about 90 percent of the total work. The men come in only to plough the land. Women take decisions regarding the agricultural operations. In the decision making process a woman's role is 51 percent. She has 49.5 percent share in adoption of Family Planning Methods. In her child's marriage her share is 44 percent whereas for the child's education and career she devotes only 11 percent. When it comes to social functions her share is 22.6 percent and she also contributes 9 percent in political events of her village and area.

Uttarakhand woman is a fusion of leadership, managerial skills, initiative and prudence. She reinforces the spirit of life in the hills. She stands true to the saying 'the hand that rocks the cradle ... rules the world'. Thus the Uttarakhand woman is better off because of her economic independence.

However women in Uttarakhand do not own the land on which they are working. Nor does this give them the power to make decisions in major economic matters concerning property, sale and investment. Nor do the land yield so much production or income that it gives women the much needed cash and decision making power to look after her needs and those of the children. Despite being the heads of these households, women still cannot overcome the patriarchal divide. This lack of cash income and the gap between work and economic gain hence needs to be bridged by entrepreneurship among women.

The most appreciable example of women entrepreneurs in Uttarakhand is "The women weavers of the Kumaon region in Uttarakhand". Women from over 32 villages in the hilly region of Almora are involved in the processing of raw materials and production of woven and knitted products. The women weavers are earning their own income and have improved their standard of living. They can afford to educate their children and, in many cases, are the sole breadwinners in the family.

Measures taken by Government

The status of women entrepreneurs cannot be improved without the active interference of government. Presently, female employment in the total employment of Uttarakhand is merely 8.28 percent. Now the transitional phase has set in the government has initiated many remedial measures to pull out women from the darkness of ignorance. Government and non-government bodies have paid increasing attention to women's economic independence through self-employment. The government programme for women development began as early as 1954 in India but the actual participation began only in 1974. Specific schemes and polices were formulated by the government to promote women entrepreneurship. The all round development of women has been one of the focal point of planning process in India. A number of welfare measures for women have been undertaken in Five Year Plans. For instance, organizations, boards, Mahila Mandals were set up during First Five Year Plan. During third and fourth plan, the focus was on supporting female education. Similarly, other focus areas were providing training, women empowerment programmes and schemes, access to resources and awareness with regards to finance and information. A special chapter in the Seventh Plan has covered the integration of women to economic activities. The new Industrial Policy of the Government has stressed the need for conducting special entrepreneurship programmes for women with a view to develop women entrepreneurship.

Small Industries Development Organisation (SIDO) conducts various programmes such as entrepreneurship development programmes exclusively for women. A special prize to outstanding woman entrepreneur of the year is also given to recognize achievements made by women entrepreneurs. The Office of DC (SSI) has also opened a women's cell to provide coordination and assistance to women entrepreneurs facing specific problems. Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) operates two special schemes for women namely Mahila Udyam Nidhi (MUN), which is an exclusive scheme for providing equity to women entrepreneurs, and the Mahila Vikas Nidhi, which offers development assistance for pursuit of income generating activities to women. SIDBI provides training for credit utilization as also credit delivery skills for the executives of voluntary organizations working for women. In order to meet the specific needs of women and to enhance the contribution of women towards technology capability building, the "Technology Development and Utilization Programme for Women (TDUPW)" has been formulated by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR).

A widely utilized scheme was the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI)'s Mahila Udyam Nidhi (MUN), which covers projects of cost not exceeding Rs. 1 million. It provides soft loans up to 25 percent of cost subject to a maximum of Rs. 2, 50,000 and a service charge of one percent (the promoters' contribution is only 10 percent). The scheme provides soft loans to women entrepreneurs for setting up new projects in tiny / small-scale sector and rehabilitation of viable sick SSI units. Existing tiny and small-scale industrial units and service enterprises undertaking expansion, modernization, technology up gradation and diversification were taken into consideration.

Several institutional arrangements have been made to protect and develop women entrepreneurship. The nationalized banks and State Financial Corporations advance loans to women entrepreneurs on preferential basis. State Industrial Development Corporations and District Industries Centres provide loans, subsidies and grants to small-scale enterprises owned and operated by women. State level agencies assist women entrepreneurs in preparing project reports, purchasing machinery, hiring of building and training the staff. Several voluntary agencies like FICCI Ladies Organization (FLO), National Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs (NAYE) and other assist women entrepreneurs in managing their enterprises.

The efforts of government and its different agencies are ably supplemented by nongovernmental organizations that are playing an equally important role in facilitating women empowerment. Despite concerted efforts of government and NGOs there are certain gaps. Of course we have come a long way in empowering women yet the future journey is difficult and demanding. At present, the Government of India has over 27 schemes for women operated by different departments and ministries. Some of them are as follows:

1. Support to Training-cum-Employment Programs for Women (STEP)

2. Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK)

3. Mahila Samriddhi Yojna (MSY)

4. Indira Mahila Yojna (IMY)

5. Vocational Training Programmes for Women

6. Assistance to Women Cooperatives

7. Science and Technology Projects for Women

8. National Commission for Women (NCW)

9. Employment and Income Generating Training-cum-Production Units for Women

10. Trade Related Entrepreneurship Assistance and Development for Women (TREAD)

11. Women's Development Corporations (WDCS)

12. State Level Financial Packages for Women

13. National Level Women Entrepreneurs Association and Organizations

14. State Level Women's Organizations/Associations

Objectives of the Study

The broad objective of the study was to examine the status of women entrepreneurs and the problems faced by them, when they venture out to carve their niche in the competitive world of business environment, with special reference to Uttarakhand. The specific objectives of the study are as follows:

* To portray a profile of women entrepreneurs and their enterprises in Uttarakhand.

* To examine the variation in motivational level of women entrepreneurs in Uttarakhand and study the related reasons.

* To identify problems associated with women in setting up and running their enterprises in Uttarakhand.

* To examine whether government programmes promote women entrepreneurship in the state.

* To provide suggestions for the existing problems and conclude ways of overcoming challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in Uttarakhand.


On the basis of review of the existing literature and objectives of the study, the following hypotheses were also developed and tested:

(I) Ho: There is no difference in the motivational level of women entrepreneurs in the urban and rural areas.

(II) Ho: Government programmes have no effect on the profitability of the women entrepreneurs.


(A) Sample

For the purpose of the study, the state of Uttarakhand was divided into two broad areas viz. Garhwal and Kumaon. Four districts viz. Pauri Garhwal and Dehradun from Garhwal region and Pithoragarh and Nainital from Kumaon region were selected as being representative of the entire area. Both urban and rural areas of all the four districts were covered to gather a sample that most correctly represents the state.

The sample chosen consisted of 400 respondents (female entrepreneurs; 100 each from the four districts) from the entire state out of which 338 responded properly. Out of this, 133 (39.3 percent) were rural and 205 (60.7 percent) were urban entrepreneurs.

(B) Sampling technique

The sample area i.e. the four districts were further divided into four zones viz. North, South, East and West. The sample was so chosen from these zones that it was representative of the entire population of the district. The sample was selected at random using direct observation. Both male and female entrepreneurs were taken into consideration for calculating the total number of entrepreneurs in the state. But questionnaires were only handed out to female entrepreneurs and the data considered for analysis was based only on their responses.

(C) Data collection

The data was collected through field survey, conducted with the help of pre-structured questionnaires and direct interview. The following procedure was adopted to develop the questionnaire:

(i) Questionnaire was classified into five components, viz., personal details, entrepreneurial qualities assessment, entrepreneurial competencies, motivation and achievement orientation, future prospects.

(ii) Under each component, the measurement items i. e. defining factors were identified, for e. g. for measuring motivation and orientation, factors of affiliation, power and achievement were identified and questions measuring these items were framed.

Data analysis

All measures were determined by averaging the responses to each item, based on 5-point Likert Scale. The calculated mean scores were used to indicate the level of motivation and entrepreneurial skills among women entrepreneurs, their attitude towards their work and the extent of achievement orientation. Data collected was used for hypothesis testing. The statistical tools used for the purpose included tabulation and frequency distribution, mean, standard deviation, correlation and t-test, chi square through SPSS.

Major findings

Interestingly, the data collected from the survey indicates that on average women entrepreneurs in Uttarakhand are lagging far behind their actual potential. Through field survey it was observed that there is significant gender bias in the availability of male and female entrepreneurs in the study area. Highly significant difference was found when chi-square test was applied. Number of male entrepreneurs available in the study area was much more than the female entrepreneurs. Moreover the ratio of women entrepreneurs in urban areas was much higher than that of in rural areas.

The hypothesis tests conducted reveal the following results:

Hypothesis I: The hypothesis that women entrepreneurs in urban areas and rural areas are equally motivated was put to test. For this purpose 5-point Likert scale was applied. On the basis of filled questionnaires, average marks and standard deviations were computed separately for urban and rural areas. Test of significance of two means was applied after computing standard error and significant difference was found. Thus the null hypothesis that there is no difference between the motivational level of female entrepreneurs of urban and rural areas was rejected.

Statistically significant difference was found in the motivation level between urban and rural women entrepreneurs in relation to the factors such as achievement, power and affiliation. It was found that women in the urban areas are highly motivated and try very hard to improve their performance, enjoy setting and achieving goals, competition and winning unlike rural women entrepreneurs.

Secondly, the urban women have greater control over the events around them. They build close relationship with their co-workers and enjoy working with others more than working alone. Whereas rural women entrepreneurs were found less-motivated and in some cases even demotivated regarding these factors.

Hypothesis II: The effect of Government assistance on the success of women entrepreneurs was considered in terms of the turnover and profitability of these entrepreneurs. Top twenty profit making female entrepreneurs were considered for testing this hypothesis. Financial data of previous years was collected. Paired t-test was applied on the profits of their enterprises before and after availing the Government assistance. For this pre and post profits were required to be analyzed. Pre profits were first inflated by incorporating the effect of normal growth of their respective businesses. The results found were insignificant and null hypothesis was accepted.

Besides above statistical tools, financial tools of ratio analysis and trend analysis were also applied on the financial data. Return on capital employed, net profit ratio and other turnover ratios were computed which also support our conclusion that there was negligible effect of government assistance on the profitability of women entrepreneurs of the state. The results show that various government schemes regarding availability of finance and other facilities like industrial sheds and land for women entrepreneurs are of then constrained by restrictions that do not account for practical realities. Funding is not often available for activities in which women are predominantly involved. The example is in the field of marketing. Women of all income levels are engaged in marketing activity from vegetable vending to the sale of more sophisticated items. There is no effective institutional channel to make money available for this activity.

A look at the various schemes available reveals that under the Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP), finance is not denied for setting up a shop, and the Prime Minister's Rozgar Yojana (PMRY) extends assistance for trading activity including simple trade finance. IRDP is confined to rural areas and PMRY covers urban areas. Both schemes are limited to persons with very low-income levels.

Challenges faced by Women Entrepreneurs in Uttarakhand

With the help of data collected through personal interviews and questionnaires it was inferred that in spite of the legal equalities and other equalities provide by the constitution the attitude of the men are tradition-bound. They have to face many challenges, family oppositions, pessimistic remarks from their fellow workers in the process of establishing themselves as independent entrepreneurs. "Wanting to do something positive" in their lives urges and compels them to be an entrepreneur.

Most importantly, the fundamental difficulty faced by a woman is that "she is a woman". She has responsibility towards her family and the society. The most important hurdle faced by woman in addition to discrimination is choice. Some intelligent women choose having children as their first priority while some are able to balance both the choices. Most times, it is difficult to mange time, leading to a situation where an upwardly mobile, all time consuming and well paying careers are sacrificed, which ultimately are regarded as the preserve of men.

Women in non-urban areas have to suffer still further. They have to face not only resistance from men but also of elderly women who are ingrained with this attitude of inequality. The overbearing presence of elders in rural households restrains even young men from venturing out; so one can imagine how much a young girl will have to put up with if she wishes to become economically independent.

Women entrepreneurship in Uttarakhand is a challenging task. There are many hurdles and problems that are faced by women entrepreneurs. Women entrepreneurs face the following problems when they enter into entrepreneurship:

1. Like all small entrepreneurs in India, women entrepreneurs in Uttarakhand suffer from inadequate financial resources and working capital. They lack access to external funds due to their inability to provide tangible security. Very few women have property in their names. Male members, on whose name family properties exist; think it a big risk financing the ventures run by women. Banks have also token a negative attitude while providing finance for women entrepreneurs. The result is women entrepreneurs are forced to rely on their own savings and loans from family friends. The quantum of such funds is often negligible leading to failure of enterprises.

2. Women entrepreneurs face stiff competition for their products from organized industries and male entrepreneurs. Moreover, they do not have the organizational setup to pump in a lot of money for advertisement. They also have the mortification of being questioned about the quality of their product since women have produced it. This is despite the fact that women entrepreneurs are more sincere in maintaining the quality and time schedule.

3. Like most productive enterprises high cost of production has restricted the development of women enterprises. The typical geographical structure of Uttarakhand is the major constraint. Hilly regions due to which the transportation cost is very high cover 92.57 percent of the total area of Uttarakhand. It is difficult for the women entrepreneurs to find the location for their enterprise.

4. Women entrepreneurs are greatly handicapped by their inability to travel from one place to another for business reasons. At the governmental level, the licensing authorities, labour officers, and sales tax officials make life miserable for women by often asking all sorts of humiliating questions. Most of the cases where women have dropped out of business were due to the difficulties caused to them by the officialdom, forcing them to run from pillar to post.

5. In Uttarakhand family ties are very strong. Here looking after the children and other members of the family are looked upon as the duty of a woman. Married women entrepreneurs have to make a fine balance between business and home, which is not an easy task.

6. Literacy among women is very low in Uttarakhand. Due to the lack of education, many women are unaware of the latest technological developments and market trends. This creates further problems in the setting up and running of business enterprises.

7. The social customs and traditions restrain women from entering entrepreneurship. Despite constitutional equality, there is widespread discrimination against women. In a male-dominated society women do not get equal treatment. This is specially so in the rural areas of Uttarakhand. Rural women have the potential, but they lack adequate training.

8. There is a psychological problem particularly associated with women entrepreneurs. The most important pre-requisites for success in entrepreneurship are need for achievement, independence, and autonomy. But in Uttarakhand the common woman is happy to bask in the glory of her parents, husbands, children, etc. They have preconceived notions about their role in life and this inhibits achievement and independence. In the absence of the required urge to achieve, very few women succeed as entrepreneurs.

Suggestions to encourage Women Entrepreneurship in Uttarakhand

1. Financial aspect: Special schemes should be implemented whereby women can get bank loans at decent conditions. A guarantee mechanism should be foreseen in these schemes whereby extended credit terms are offered in case the business takes longer than foreseen to take off or unforeseen events lead to financial pressure.

2. Childcare: More childcare facilities should be provided to fit women entrepreneurs' needs. This would entail extended opening hours or flexible opening hours according to the woman entrepreneur's needs. Alternatively, measures should be taken for fathers to be in the position to take parental leave, and men should be encouraged to take the leave.

3. Household: It should be made easier for women entrepreneurs to get help for their households, and initiatives like the "cheque services" implemented by the Belgian government should be copied. This system would alleviate the workload of the female entrepreneurs and at the same time decreases the number of unemployed persons.

4. Working time: Self-employed women should be encouraged to employ on a parttime or full-time basis at least one person so that they have more time for their family and can take interest in other occupations, actively participate in decisionmaking bodies.

5. Education and training: Awareness Program of Export for Handicraft Sector arranged by Government and Non-government organizations for Women Entrepreneurs with the objectives:

a. To help women entrepreneurs engaged in the Handicraft Sector in understanding the mandatory and voluntary standards prevalent in the importing countries.

b. To help the stakeholders understand the problems faced by women entrepreneurs in the Handicraft Sector.

c. Strengthening of network with stakeholders.

Suggestive Measures for Banks

The financial institutions are skeptical of the entrepreneurial abilities of women to risk their funds on them. The bankers consider women loanees a higher risk than men loanees. They look for men behind the women applicants. They scare the women applicants with their greater and unwarranted inquisitiveness and questions, often insisting on stiffer security considerations. The social setting is till not conducive as the men folk are less understanding and less co-operative to women entrepreneurs.

There is a need on the part of the formal financial sector to build up an effective and efficient financial strategy to improve access of women entrepreneurs to banks and financial institutions. The banks should take up steps to reach the potential women entrepreneurs and encourage them to avail credit and credit plus service from banks.

Some of them are suggested below:

Women generally hesitate in going through the procedural formalities in extending loans imposed by the banks. They face problems in preparing project reports and completion of other paper work. The banks should simplify the application forms for women entrepreneurs. The managerial staff in the banks should assist women applicants in understanding the formalities in simple manner.

Banks should set up special divisions for women entrepreneurs both at head and regional offices which should provide information regarding various credit related schemes and facilities available with them. The banks should employ well-trained lady staff members particularly in rural areas.

Banks' insistence on securities is a major drawback in borrowings by women. Banks should encourage women entrepreneurs to avail loans on liberal terms like minimum margin money.

Banks should redefine their policies and prepare long-term plans by taking into account the requirements of women entrepreneurs. They should extent credit directly to women for smaller projects under different Government sponsored schemes.

For the large numbers of illiterate and semi-literate women, particularly in the rural and semi-urban areas, the banks should make efforts to inform them through audiovisual methods/slides and charts about the different schemes under which finance is available. In the age of computers, banks should create their websites, which will help educated urban women entrepreneurs to access the information regarding credit schemes and other facilities available to them.

Banks should ensure that the branch level functionaries do not have traditional bias of preferring men to women in financing. This can be done through orientation programmes workshops for its branch managers/staff on different aspects of handling credit requirements, of women.

The other side of the coin shows a different picture. The banks are of the view that the schemes and facilities provided by them are hardly availed by the women entrepreneurs. The women entrepreneurs do not show any interest in the schemes offered by them. Actually men who want to get easy money try to get loans in the name of their wives or other female members of their family and thus misuse this facility. Subsidized loans provided by the banks remain unpaid and result in NPAs (Non Performing Assets) for the banks.


The most important pre-requisites for success in entrepreneurship are need for achievement, independence and autonomy. But in Uttarakhand the common woman is happy to bask in the glory of her parents, husband, children, etc. The contribution of women in work is considered invisible and unpaid. It is often assumed that women are free and always available for other work, and that they are non-contributing members of the family. This perception needs to be changed. There is a need to liberalize the society in general and men in particular for letting women step out of their cocoons of 'happy housewives' and to become economically independent entrepreneurs. Of course the thinking of women needs to be changed too. All the government schemes and NGO support is useless until and unless we do this.

The study showed that the motivational level of women entrepreneurs is very low. Many women entered the field of entrepreneurship to avail economic competence and independence, but most of them are observed to be not succeeding as well as they had planned. The main reasons being lack of enabling and sustaining facilities of entrepreneurial environment; lack of competence and urge to maximize profit. In the absence of the required urge to achieve, very few women succeed as entrepreneurs. There is a need to motivate women entrepreneurs in rural as well as urban areas. This can be done through the workshops and training programmes. It was further observed that women entrepreneurs in urban areas are more motivated than women entrepreneurs in rural areas, reason being obviously their education and family environment.

Through the study conducted, it is evident that not many women entrepreneurs resort to government or non-government assistance. Women are mostly unaware of the government schemes and assistance. Even when they are aware of the programmes they don't have ready access to these. Those women entrepreneurs who have been using government assistance also haven't gained much from it in terms of profitability. In general, the assistance was too late or too little to be profitable.

Bank seems reluctant to give financial support to the aspiring women entrepreneurs. Government makes schemes and banks launch loaning programmes to help women entrepreneurs but these efforts do not reach the deserving people properly.

Much needs to be done towards the enforcement of women entrepreneurs. Women awareness, education, training, government assistance, liberal attitude of banks are only some of the factors that need to be worked upon. This is an important requirement for the economic development of the nation and needs to be given its due importance.

Helpful References

Mishra, S. P. (1996): Factors Affecting Women Entrepreneurship in Small and Cottage Industries in India, International labour Organization South Asia Multidisciplinary Advisory Team, Sida Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

Kaur, Gagandeep (2006): Women weavers of the Kummaon, "Women in Business and in Decision-Making" Co-financed by the European Commission in the framework of programmes and actions in the social and employment sector.

Narayan, Sindhu S. and P. S. Geethakutty (2003): "Level of Entrepreneurial Success among Women Entrepreneurs in Agribusiness", Journal of Tropical Agriculture pp41-44, College of Horticulture, Trichur 680,656, Kerala,

Duff, Carolyn (1993): When women Work Together, Conari Press.

Eckert, Toby (1996): "Female-Owned Firms Growing at Fast Clip", Indianapolis Business Journal.

Godfrey, Joline (1992): "Our Wildest Dreams", Harper Business.

Maitland, Alison (2000): "From Female Upstarts to Start-Ups: Women Entrepreneurs", Financial Times

Pinson, Linda and Jerry Jinnett (1992): Women Entrepreneurs, 33 Personal Stories of Success, Upstart Publishing.

Silver, David a. (1994): Enterprising Women, Amacom.

Zuckerman, Laurie (1990): On Your Own: A women's Guide to Building a Business, Upstart Publishing.
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Article Details
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Author:Dang, J.P.; Malhotra, Kirti; Ghai, Divya
Publication:Political Economy Journal of India
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Jul 1, 2009
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