India’s startup scene is one of the worst in the world for women

India’s startup scene is growing at the speed of light—but it sucks for women.
India’s startup scene is growing at the speed of light—but it sucks for women.
Image: Reuters/Sivaram V
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India—the fastest growing startup ecosystem in the world—is a bleak place for women entrepreneurs.

In a new study of 31 countries, India is ranked 29th for the support it provides to women entrepreneurs. The only two countries that stand below India in the Global Women Entrepreneur Leaders Scorecard are Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Here is the complete ranking:

The ranking is based on five categories:

  • Business environment: State of regulations, corruption and monopolies, availability of capital, and R&D investments (India’s rank: 18)
  • Gender access: Women’s access to fundamental resources including education, internet, bank accounts and training programs (India’s rank: 28)
  • Leadership and rights: Equal rights, acceptance as executives, and percentage of women in decision-making positions (India’s rank: 28)
  • Pipeline for entrepreneurs: Women’s engagement in startups; percentage of the female population that know entrepreneurs, see business opportunities, and feel they have the skills to start a business (India’s rank: 30)
  • Potential entrepreneur leaders: Higher percentage of women who start businesses are college-educated and growth-oriented (India’s rank: 24)

In countries like India, the report noted, ”there are unequal inheritance rights for women and work restrictions limiting their access to startup capital and collateral critical for business startup and growth.”

India’s red-hot startup ecosystem has over 3,100 startups, according to industry body Nasscom, and 800 new enterprises join the ranks annually. By 2020, India is likely to have around 11,500 startups, employing over 250,000 people.

Women on top

Of the 31 countries included in the ranking, India stands lowest in terms of acceptance of women as business executives. This is despite the fact that in 2013 India enacted a new law that made it mandatory for every listed company to have at least one woman on its board of directors.

Sweden has the most acceptance for women business executives, the Global Women Entrepreneur Leaders Scorecard said. Canada, the UK and the US are the other countries where acceptance of women as business executives was the highest.

The chart below shows the percentage of women in leadership roles across 10 countries: