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Women-Led Startups in India are on a roll, 17% of the unicorns are led by women in 2022: Rep

Picture showing the top women entrepreneurs in India
Women Entrepreneurship in India

India's startup ecosystem has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years, with women entrepreneurs playing a pivotal role in this evolution. According to the 'Women in India's Startup Ecosystem Report' (WISER), the landscape has witnessed a significant rise in women-led startups, marking a paradigm shift in the gender dynamics of the business world.

A report, co-led by ACT For Women and The Udaiti Foundation, has unveiled a significant disparity in gender representation between the startup and corporate sectors in India. In 2022, women accounted for 35% of the startup workforce, a substantial contrast to the mere 19% in corporate settings.

Namhya Foods Founder - Ridhima Arora
Namhya Foods Founders - Ridhima Arora

The report's findings suggest that a concerted effort within the startup community, involving careful introspection and targeted initiatives, could elevate this figure to an impressive 50% by 2030 with 2 million (20 lakh) new jobs expected for women by 2030 out of the overall increase in startup employment from 860k (8.6 lakh) in 2022 (with 3 lakh women employee) to 4.8 million (40.8 lakh) by 2030.

In 2017, India boasted approximately 6,000 startups, of which merely 10% were founded by women. Fast forward to 2022, and the startup scene has exploded, reaching a staggering 80,000 startups.

What's even more remarkable is the increase in women-led startups, which now constitute a substantial 18% of the total, as per the WISER report.

The report involved participation from more than 200 startups including Urban Company, Meesho and Zomato with 111 founders, 117 CHROs, and 755 startup employees. This surge reflects the entrepreneurial prowess of Indian women and their growing influence in the startup sphere.

The unicorn club, comprising startups valued at over $1 billion in the venture capital industry, saw a significant boost. In 2022, 105 startups achieved unicorn status, a remarkable leap from the 13 in 2017. Among these, women-led startups saw their representation grow from 8% to an impressive 17%. This upward trajectory signifies the growing confidence of investors in women-led ventures.

The report highlighted another encouraging trend – the increasing presence of women in leadership positions within startups. Compared to traditional corporate settings where women held only 21% of managerial positions, startups demonstrated a more inclusive environment with 32% of managerial roles occupied by women.

At the top-tier levels, startups displayed a remarkable 18% representation of women, while corporations lagged behind at a mere 5%.

The report also emphasized the need for continued efforts to bridge the gender gap entirely. Despite the progress, women entrepreneurs still face challenges, particularly in reaching director-level positions.

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