Data Lab: Women-led Indian startups surge to 18% in past five years

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India’s dynamic startup landscape has witnessed a commendable transformation over the last five years, and what truly sets this narrative apart is the rise of women at the forefront of entrepreneurship. 

As per a recently published report titled,Women in India’s Startup Ecosystem Report(WISER), women-led startups have risen to 18 per cent in the past five years. signalling a compelling shift in the gender dynamics of business. 

The WISER report’s data draws from the active participation of more than 200 startups, including prominent names like Urban Company, Meesho, and Zomato.

Here are the major takeaways of the report:

17% of India’s unicorns are led by women

In 2017, India had approximately 6,000 startups, with just 10 per cent of them being spearheaded by women.

Jump to 2022, and the startup landscape has surged to 80,000, with women-led startups now comprising a notable 18 per cent of the total.

As per the report, 105 startups became unicorns (with a current valuation of US$1 billion or more) in 2022 from 13 in 2017. Out of which, women-driven startups unicorns increased from 8 per cent to 17 per cent.

Women increasingly taking on senior roles in startups

The report highlights the increasing presence of women in leadership roles in startups compared to traditional corporate settings.

In startups, 32 per cent of managerial positions are held by women, while in corporations, it’s 21 per cent.

The contrast is even more significant in top-level roles, with startups having 18 per cent women compared to corporations with just 5 per cent.

Notably, startups founded by women tend to have 2.5 times more women in senior positions compared to those founded by men.

Ten years into the role, situations change for women

While women and men start their startup careers on an equal footing, women’s progress in terms of experience and seniority falls behind. After more than 10 years, a considerably smaller proportion of women attain top leadership positions in startups, currently at 24 per cent for women compared to 40 per cent for men.

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