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In India, Women-Run Biz Eye Pickup

By Nandita Mathur Mint, New Delhi

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A new report from Bain and Co. shows that the pandemic has been devastating for many female business owners in India. At the same time, the crisis has presented some very real opportunities for women launching businesses.

Mint

Disruptions from the pandemic have disproportionately impacted women entrepreneurs in India and their businesses. More than 73% of women entrepreneurs have been hit by the crisis, with nearly 20% seeing their revenue wiped out.

Even in cases where businesses did not see an immediate decline in revenue, growth has remained fairly muted, according to a new report, "Can Covid-19 be the Turning Point for Women Entrepreneurs in India" by Bain and Co., Google and AWE Foundation, a non-profit.

Despite the negative impact, women entrepreneurs are optimistic about bouncing back, with 90% believing they will be able to survive the crisis though this may require major changes to their business model and cost structure.

Many of them expect demand to bounce back to pre-lockdown levels by March, while some believe this may happen sooner, by December.

"The pandemic has been especially devastating for women entrepreneurs, not only due to business coming to a grinding halt but also because of an unforgiving increase in the domestic care burden. Yet, post the initial few months, there has been rapid responsiveness and adaptation," said Megha Chawla, partner, Bain and Co. and lead author of the report.

Chawla said the agility shown by women, accelerated and widespread adoption of remote interactions and the need for an all-hands approach to economic recovery are all re-enforcements of the massive opportunity in women's entrepreneurship.

Women entrepreneurs who have successfully adapted to the new environment have done so by acquiring new skills, redesigning their processes and accelerating the adoption of technology to tide over the crisis. Enterprises that experienced the fastest recovery were those that had already experimented with or adopted digitalization in various parts of their businesses.

Around 54% of the women interviewed changed their business model in response to the crisis, and an additional 24% plan to make a change by December.

Examples of such changes include apparel manufacturers who transitioned to manufacturing safety equipment (masks, gloves, PPE kits), coaching centres and gyms that expanded reach dramatically by holding "virtual classes," and food and beverage businesses who leveraged "vocal for local" positioning to reach a wider audience digitally.

"We launched into edtech and convinced our partner NGOs to readapt to the needs of the hour," said Mandeep Kaur, founder and programme director, TribesforGood India.

She said NGOs were quick to onboard as they realized the benefits of virtual schemes, negligible additional change-related stress, but additional income and support in running schemes. ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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