In India’s rapidly evolving startup ecosystem, female entrepreneurs are carving their paths to success, transforming their ventures into thriving businesses. According to the ‘Women in India’s Startup Ecosystem Report’ (WISER), women-led startups in India have experienced substantial growth, accounting for 18 per cent of the startup landscape in the past five years.
Back in 2017, India boasted around 6,000 startups, with a mere 10 per cent being led by female founders. Fast-forward to 2022, and the number of startups has skyrocketed to 80,000, with women-led startups claiming an impressive 18 per cent share of the market.
Women-led startups, unicorns on the rise
The WISER report reveals a remarkable surge in unicorn startups, with 105 achieving this prestigious status in 2022, compared to just 13 in 2017. Notably, the percentage of women-led unicorn startups has jumped from 8 per cent to 17 per cent, highlighting their growing influence in the industry. A unicorn startup is defined as a company valued at over $1 billion in the venture capital arena.
The WISER report’s data draws from the active participation of more than 200 startups, including prominent names like Urban Company, Meesho, and Zomato. This reflects the growing interest and support for women-led businesses within India’s entrepreneurial community.
In 2017, venture capital funding for Indian startups amounted to $5.9 billion, of which only 11 per cent was allocated to women-led startups. However, by 2022, total VC funding had soared to $21.9 billion, and the proportion directed towards women-led startups had risen to 20 per cent. This shift underscores a positive change in the investment landscape, enhancing the prospects of female entrepreneurs.
The WISER report accentuates the ascent of women in leadership positions within startups, setting them apart from their counterparts in corporate enterprises.
The data reveals that startups outperform traditional businesses, with 32% of women in managerial roles compared to 21 per cent in corporate settings. This disparity becomes even more pronounced at the CXO level, where corporates have just 5 per cent of women in leadership roles, while startups boast 18 per cent. Moreover, startups founded by women display a significant trend, with 2.5 times more women in senior roles compared to those founded by men.
Despite the overall progress, the report says that there is still work to be done. After a decade in their careers, 8 out of 10 men in startups occupy director-level positions or higher, whereas only 5 in 10 women attain such roles.