India’s Women Entrepreneurs See Survival by Remodeling Business

(Bloomberg) — Most female entrepreneurs in Indian cities were quick to change their business model and predict their operations will survive after the coronavirus pandemic ravaged revenues, according to a new study.

Bain & Co., Google, and AWE Foundation surveyed almost 350 women entrepreneurs and small businesses and found that 54% had already made business shifts — including new products or services — and another 24% planned to change by December. About 90% said they believe they will survive the crisis.

Covid-19 had a disproportionate impact on women all over the world. In India, which has a vast gender gap across almost all social indicators, women are even more vulnerable. The South Asian nation has as many as 16 million women-owned businesses, fewer than 20% of all enterprises, with most of them largely single-person operations, making survival crucial.

chart: Pandemic Hit

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Pandemic Hit

Women-owned businesses saw a sharp decline in revenue: 73% reported being negatively impacted by the pandemic, and almost 20% were nearly wiped out, according to the survey.

Video: Team Collaboration:’s Eran Zinman at CNBC Evolve (CNBC)

Team Collaboration:’s Eran Zinman at CNBC Evolve



The changes made in business models include releasing new products or services, digital sales and delivery channels, as well as reorienting supply chains, sales and marketing. Some 60% of the businesses reported including new products and services, while 46% of entrepreneurs focused on retraining and learning new skills.

“Post the initial few months, there has been rapid responsiveness,” said Megha Chawla, a partner at Bain and the study’s lead author. “A few characteristics of women-owned enterprises in India, such as being service-oriented, smaller and less capital-intensive, enabled faster adaptation.”

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