Women entrepreneurship and empowerment have seen a significant surge in recent years, with women-led e-commerce businesses playing a pivotal role in boosting the global and national economies. These women have displayed remarkable strength and determination and they are not only thriving but also contributing significantly to the Indian economy, transitioning from entrepreneurs to strategists, philanthropists to consultants. In the ever-evolving landscape of e-commerce, online business platforms have paved the way for women to become successful business leaders, offering them a unique opportunity to excel on a global stage. Women-led e-commerce businesses are not only creating job but are stimulating innovation, and expanding the reach of e-commerce to underserved areas.
Women-led e-commerce: A driving force in India's digital transformation
Global e-commerce giants such as Amazon has provided women entrepreneurs with virtual spaces and adaptable technologies to establish and grow their businesses. These platforms have not only facilitated business growth but also emancipated women from the constraints of traditional business methods.
According to a report by Bain & Company, India boasts the world's third-largest online shopper base, with a staggering 180-190 million online shoppers in 2021. This number is projected to surpass the US and claim the second spot within the next two years.
Women entrepreneurs are poised to seize this digital opportunity with great enthusiasm. India has 63 million micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), of which around 20 per cent are women-owned. This presents a significant opportunity to create employment for 22 to 27 million people. Estimates suggest that by accelerating women's entrepreneurship, India could generate more than 30 million women-owned enterprises, potentially creating 150 to 170 million jobs.
In the last five years, 83 per cent of Indian small businesses have taken their operations online, with 65 per cent generating up to half of their revenue from online sales. This shift towards e-commerce demonstrates the immense potential for women entrepreneurs to thrive in this rapidly growing digital marketplace.
The landscape of e-commerce in India is reshaping the entrepreneurial journey for women by dismantling traditional barriers. This digital realm fosters a level playing field, prioritizing skills and innovation over gender. Online businesses, characterized by flexibility and scalability, empower women entrepreneurs to manage ventures on their terms and adapt to dynamic market conditions. Moreover, e-commerce sparks innovation and creativity, enabling women to customize products or services to cater to a diverse global audience. The expansive reach of e-commerce platforms transcends geographical constraints, allowing women to connect with customers not only locally but also nationwide and internationally.
Tier 2 and tier 3 cities boosting e-commerce
With the transformative power of e-commerce as their ally, women entrepreneurs can break free from geographical constraints, expand their reach to a vast audience, and unleash their full potential, leaving an indelible mark on the business landscape.
E-commerce's remarkable growth trajectory has enabled it to connect with almost every PIN code in India, bridging the gap between diverse regions, languages, and communities. This virtual marketplace offers an unparalleled diversity of products from local and global manufacturers and brands, catering to the aspirations of millions.
India's e-commerce seller growth has surpassed even the impressive growth of the e-retail market itself. During 2020-21, the number of sellers increased by a remarkable 35 per cent annually, with 40 per cent of these new entrants hailing from tier-II or smaller cities. This surge in seller participation is a testament to the democratizing power of e-commerce, empowering individuals from all corners of the country to tap into the vast potential of the digital marketplace and pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.
The expanding reach of e-commerce has transformed the way consumers in India shop, particularly in tier 2 and tier 3 cities. This marks a significant paradigm shifts in consumer behaviour, as individuals from these regions increasingly embrace the convenience and value proposition offered by online shopping.
Paving the way for a woman-centric economic future
With aspirations to become a $5-trillion economy, India recognizes the critical role of supporting the digital transformation of the MSME sector, particularly women-led enterprises. The envisioned 'women-led development' can propel women to the forefront of India's progress.
At this pivotal moment, India has the opportunity to adopt a progressive approach, fostering an inclusive and empowering environment for women entrepreneurs to continue thriving in the ever-expanding e-commerce landscape. By unleashing the untapped potential of women in business, India can elevate itself to unprecedented heights and solidify its position as a global economic powerhouse. The time to act is now as we pave the way for a brighter, more equitable, and prosperous future that is truly woman-centric.
The author is Head, Seller Acquisition at Amazon India