KOCHI: A slow but steady progress is visible in female entrepreneurship in God’s Own Country. According to estimates, 25 per cent of the small and medium scale industries registered in the state are promoted by women.
If we put it in simple terms, one in four new companies in Kerala is owned by a woman.
According to the fourth Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSME) census, four States - Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal - when put together, have 51.9 per cent of the country’s women-owned business.
Making things interesting, Kerala is the only state in the country which registers the highest growth rate of 12 per cent in the MSME sector for the past three years. “We are performing very well in the MSME sector in the country. Even though states like Maharashtra are way ahead of us in terms of number of units, Kerala has the highest growth rate in the segment. Another positive development in the sector is that more and more women are coming forward to start their own enterprises,” said Industries Minister P K Kunhalikutty.
Realising the potential, the state government has come up with several programmes to promote women entrepreneurship. Under the interest subvention scheme for woman entrepreneurs, the entire interest on loans up to `5 lakh availed by industrial units run by women, will be borne by the government for three years.
Some of the incentives provided for women entrepreneurs include free training with stipend for selected women entrepreneurs, five per cent grace marks for girl students in colleges who form entrepreneurship societies, help in getting bank loans for up to 80 per cent of the project cost, 50 per cent subsidy for stalls/advertisements in shopping festivals organised by Government / Quasi Government Institutions and help in marketing of the products.
“Even though women in Kerala are way ahead in education, their participation in work force is lower. The case is the same in entrepreneurship also. But now statistics show that more women in Kerala are starting their own businesses. This is a positive sign and the state government, with its many initiatives, are really encouraging the fair sex,” said Patricia Barandun, UN Women-India’ deputy representative.
It is predicted that India is the future hotspot of female entrepreneurial activity, ahead of Hong Kong and other countries. Women entrepreneurs in India expect a median growth of their business by 90 per cent over the next five years.