Women entrepreneurs are key players in any developing country particularly in terms of their contribution to economic development. In recent years, even among the developed countries like USA and Canada, Women's role in terms of their share in small business has been increasing. The facts of a study: Conducted by IIT, Delhi are :
(i) Women own one-third of small business in USA and Canada.
(ii) Britain has seen an increase of over three times of women in workforce than that of men even since 1980s.
(iii) Women make for 40 percent of total work force in Asian Countries.
(iv) In China, women outnumber men by at least two times when it to starting business there.
(iv) In Japan, the percentage of women entrepreneurs increased from 2.4 percent in 1980 to 5.2 percent in 1995.
Problems of Women Entrepreneurs :
There are umpteen problems faced by women at various stages beginning from their initial commencement of enterprise, in running their enterprise. Their various problems are as follows:
1. Patriarchal Society: Entrepreneurship has been traditionally seen a male preserve and idea of women taking up entrepreneurial activities considered as a distant dream. Any deviation from the norm is frowned and if possible, immediately curbed. Women also have to face role conflict as soon as they initiate any entrepreneurial activity. It is an uphill task for women to face such conflicts and cope with the twin role.
2. Absence of Entrepreneurial Aptitude: Many women take the training by attending the Entrepreneurship Development Programmes without entrepreneurial bent of mind. As per a study, involvement of women in small scale sector as owners stands at mere 7 percent. Women who are imparted training by various institutes must be verified on account of aptitude through the tests, interviews etc.
3. Quality of EDPs: All women entrepreneurs are given the same training through EDPs. Second-generation women entrepreneurs don't need such training as they already have the previous exposure to business.
4. Marketing Problems: Women entrepreneurs continuously face the problems in marketing their products. It is one of the core problems as this area is mainly dominated by males and even women with adequate experience fail to make a dent.
For marketing the products women entrepreneurs have to be at the mercy of middlemen who pocket the chunk of profit. Although the middlemen exploit the women entrepreneurs, the elimination of middlemen is difficult, because it involves a lot of running about. Women entrepreneurs also find it difficult to capture the market and make their products popular.
5. Financial Problems: Obtaining the support of bankers, managing the working capital, lack of credit resources are the problems which still remain in the males domain. Women are yet to make significant mark in quantitative terms. Marketing and financial problems are such obstacles where even training doesn't significantly help the women. Some problems are structural in nature and beyond the control of entrepreneurs.
6. Family Conflicts: Women also face the conflict of performing of home role as they are not available to spend enough time with their families. They spend long hours in business and as a result, they find it difficult to meet the demands of their family members and society as well. Their inability to attend to domestic work, time for education of children, personal hobbies, and entertainment adds to their conflicts.
7. Credit Facilities: Though women constitute about 50 per cent of population, the percentage of small scale enterprise where women own 51 percent of share capital is less than 5 percent. Women are often denied credit by bankers on the ground of lack of collateral security. Therefore, women's access to risk capital is limited.
The complicated procedure of bank loans, the inordinate delay in obtaining the loans and running about involved do deter many women from venturing out. At the same time, a good deal of self- employment programme has been promoted by the govt. and commercial banks.
8. Shortage of raw-materials: Women entrepreneurs encounter the problems of shortage of raw-materials. The failure of many women co-operations in 1971 such as these engaged in basket making were mainly because of the inadequate availability of forest-based raw materials.
9. Heavy Competition: Many of the women enterprises have imperfect organizational set up. But they have to face severe competition from organized industries.
10. High cost of production: High cost of production undermines the efficiency and stands in the way of development and expansion of women's enterprises, government assistance in the form of grant and subsidies to some extent enables them to tide over the difficult situations. However, in the long run, it would be necessary to increase efficiency and expand productive capacity and thereby reduce cost to make their ultimate survival possible, other than these, women entrepreneurs so face the problems of labour, human resources, infrastructure, legal formalities, overload of work, lack of family support, mistrust etc.