Promoting Micro-Entrepreneurship & Increasing Enterprise Success Rate Among Rural Women in Punjab, India: A 1-year Pilot Project Proposal by PAHAL NGO

Final project
Year of publication:
Supervisors: Kirstín Flygenring


Businesses that are run by women are significantly more likely to fail compared to the businesses that are run by men. This fact is even more magnified when those businesses are informal micro-enterprises that are meant to support the livelihood of 1-2 families. Various initiatives run by governments, banks, and NGOs aim at promoting micro-entrepreneurship among women by conducting training programs that are limited in terms of skills imparted, and time frames. These initiatives have very little focus on the gendered aspect of entrepreneurship among women, which has a strong impact on the sustainability of the micro-enterprises that are promoted. A gender sensitive approach to the micro-enterprise promotion needs to adopted to increase the long-term success of their micro-enterprises.

This project brings the gendered nature of all the elements surrounding the micro-entrepreneur at the centre of the intervention, and tries to provide holistic support to the women ranging from skill training and creating collectives for support, to finding allies in the market for buying and selling their products. This approach works on two aspects; the empowerment of the aspiring micro-entrepreneur, and finding allies among the stakeholders involved.

Empowerment is done by introducing certain new elements to the training program and by creating networks of women within the villages that meet on a regular basis. It also creates informal collectives within a cluster of villages that can increase their bargaining power in buying raw materials from the suppliers in bulk, and together coordinating visits to the market for finding innovative solutions to procurement. Another way is to increase the awareness of the gendered nature of time and work, which helps the participants make better decisions in terms of time management and an understanding of long-term gains vs unskilled labour work. The second aspect of the project is finding the allies within the market, which includes the stakeholders involved in the transportation of raw materials and the finished products to the market and those involved in transactions in the market. Trust is also increased by working on ensuring the quality of the products manufactured as per the dynamic market requirements.

The project will be run as a pilot project for 1 year and will aim at promoting 30 micro-enterprises in 30 villages, with the possibility of extending it to a sustained micro-entrepreneurship promotion project in the future. This is the first time a sustained support initiative will be extended to micro-enterprises in Punjab with the services made available in the villages. The project will complement the numerous existing initiatives that aim at promoting women micro-entrepreneurs, and will help their enterprises sustain for longer periods of time, leading to more financial independence for women, and increased confidence in questioning the traditional patriarchal gender norms.