‘WOMEN FIRST, PROSPERITY FOR ALL’

There can be no growth without including the 50% women population and providing them with equal opportunities. It is an unquestionable fact that women are key drivers of economic growth, and rightly so the theme of eighth edition of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2017 co-hosted by India and the US from November 28 to 30 at Hyderabad had ‘Women First, Prosperity for All’ as its theme.

The event put India’s IT city Hyderabad on the world map opening it for investors.  About 400 entrepreneurs from across the globe led by advisor to the US President Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka Trump participated in the deliberations.

Addressing the inaugural session Prime Minister Narendra Modi said ‘In Indian mythology, woman is an incarnation of Shakti – the Goddess of power. We believe women empowerment is vital to our development. He added that our history has references to women of remarkable talent and determination. Gargi, an ancient philosopher, around the seventh century BC, challenged a male sage to a philosophical discourse – something unheard of in those times. Our warrior queens like Rani Ahilyabai Holkar and Rani Lakshmibai fought bravely to defend their kingdoms. Our freedom struggle too is replete with such inspirational instances.’

Impressed by the tumultuous welcome she received in India, Ivanka Trump said, ‘In the last decade, women have made remarkable strides in starting new businesses. Globally, between 2014 and 2016, entrepreneurship activity among women increased by 10%. In the United States, within the last decade, the number of women-owned firms has grown by 45%. Even more promising, minority women have started nearly 8 in 10 new women-owned businesses.’

She said in GES 2017, more than 11 million women in the United States own businesses. They employ nearly 9 million workers, and generate over $1 trillion dollars in revenue. Many women become entrepreneurs and job creators out of necessity – some weren’t given the flexibility they needed at work to care for their families. Others lacked professional sponsors, or they weren’t given a fair shot at a promotion. Instead, women, like many of those here today, are charting their own courses and achieving incredible feats.

Fueling the growth of women-led businesses isn’t simply good for our society – it’s good for our economy. One study estimates that closing the gender entrepreneurship gap world-wide could grow our global GDP by as much as 2%. The women in this room can help lead the way to closing this gap and ushering in a new age of greater prosperity, Ivanka Trump said in Hyderabad.

Ivanka said, Indian economy can grow by over USD 150 billion in the next three years if it was able to close the labour force gender gap by half. When we look into World Bank report, India has room to improve the role of women in Indian Economy.  ‘India remains the fastest growing economy in the world and it will get a big boost from its approach to GST which will – reduce the cost of doing business for firms, reduce logistics costs of moving goods across states, while ensuring no loss in equity,’ said Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India but low female labor force participation, however, remains a serious concern. Higher level of women participation in the economy can help propel India closer to double digit growth.”

But the impact women could have on the global economy far exceeds the effect they currently have due to social and cultural limitations they face in both developing and developed countries. According to an assessment done by the World Bank, India’s potential GDP growth can go up by a full percentage point if half the gap in female labor force participation rate with Bangladesh or Indonesia, is closed. The key to close the gender gap is to create more jobs, especially regular salaried jobs that are flexible and can be safely accessed by women, the Update concludes. A special focus of this report has been on the low female labor force participation of women in India. India has one of the lowest female participation rates in the world, ranking 120th among the 131 countries for which data are available.

On the concluding day, Telangana IT Minister, KT Rama Rao, announced the creation of Rs 15-crore Telangana Fund exclusively for women entrepreneurs which would offer seed fund between Rs 25 lakh to Rs 1 crore on behalf of the state government.

Anu Acharya, founder of a successful startup, MapMyGenome, and an invited speaker wrote in an article that the person who was the most impactful and powerful according to me at this summit was Cherie Blair who drove the points home about how men need to do their share and that India was leaving behind a largely untapped resource in women that are graduates and those who don’t get educated. “Strong and Impactful, yet humble and accessible’, she described Blair’s view.