Tech startups led by female entrepreneurs grew by 8% in 2022, outperforming the Indian startup ecosystem as a whole. However, owing to gender bias, women founders still raise much less money in funding, compared to men.
On another note, nearly 20% of women in India still don’t have a bank account. This is due to factors such as lack of support in account opening and no identity proof, mobile phone or internet access.
There are various government schemes for women that are aimed at battling these issues. Some provide women with the funds needed to set up their own businesses, while others offer preferential rates on loans and savings accounts, to encourage financial independence.
Key Savings Schemes for Women
Most banks offer women exclusive savings accounts with no monthly balance requirements. They also offer higher interest rates on savings, reward points and cashback on spending and special rates on loans. These are two government schemes for women, meant to encourage saving:
- Mahila Samman Saving Certificate (MSSC)
The Mahila Samman Savings Certificate (MMSC) is a post office small-savings scheme available for two years, from April 2023 – March 2025. Only a woman or the guardian of a minor girl child can open a Mahila Samman Saving Certificate.
The maximum deposit amount is ₹2 Lakhs and it has a fixed interest rate of 7.5%, which is higher than most bank fixed deposits.
- Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana (SSY)
The Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana (SSY) was introduced to help parents of girl children plan for the proper education and marriage expenses of their daughters. SSY accounts can be opened at any post office or bank, for girls under the age of 10.
Once the girl turns 18, the account is mandatorily operated by herself.
A maximum deposit of ₹1.5 Lakhs is allowed in every financial year, for up to 15 years. However, the scheme matures only 21 years from account opening. The rate of interest for the 1st quarter of FY 2023-2024 was 8%.
Key Government Schemes for Women Entrepreneurs
Various schemes for women associated with small businesses, manufacturing, farming and more are available. They are as such:
- Annapurna Scheme
Under this scheme, women entrepreneurs can borrow up to ₹50,000 for starting a food catering business. Repayable in three years, these funds can be used to meet business requirements such as buying utensils, raw materials, ovens, baking supplies and more.
- Stree Shakti Scheme
Under this government scheme for women-owned businesses, female owners can get a loan with an interest concession of 0.05% on an amount of more than ₹2 Lakhs. It is offered to businesses engaged in activities such as agriculture and retail trade. Self-employed female professionals such as doctors and CAs can also apply.
- Orient Mahila Vikas Yojana Scheme
Offered by the Oriental Bank of Commerce, this scheme is for women with individual or joint ownership of 51% of the business. It offers up to ₹25 Lakhs, at a concession of up to 2% on the interest rates.
- Dena-Shakti Scheme
Offered by Dena Bank, this scheme provides loans for up to ₹20 Lakhs for women entrepreneurs. Loans are provided at a concession of 0.25% on the interest rates and are available for sectors such as manufacturing, micro-credit and retail stores.
- Cent Kalyani Scheme
Offered by the Central Bank of India, this scheme is available to existing and new SMEs with women entrepreneurs, to avail up to ₹1 Crore. Activities such as farming, cottage industries and self-employed professional services are included under this scheme.
- Bharatiya Mahila Bank Loan
Under this scheme, underprivileged women who want to start a business or company can get up to ₹20 crores to meet setting up and working capital requirements.
- Union Nari Shakti Scheme
Offered by the Union Bank of India, all women-owned and managed MSMEs can apply for a loan of up to ₹10 Crores under this scheme. This can be used for the purchase of business premises, machinery and to meet working capital needs.
- Udyogini Scheme
This scheme covers self-employed women in the trade and service sectors, with a family income of ₹1.5 Lakhs or less. They can get loans of up to ₹3 Lakhs. Extremely poor, widowed and physically challenged women are prioritised under this scheme.
- Mahila Udyam Nidhi Scheme
Offered by the Punjab National Bank and Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), this scheme enables women entrepreneurs to set up new small-scale businesses by extending loans of up to ₹10 lakhs to be repaid in 10 years.
- MUDRA Loan
Under this government scheme for women entrepreneurs, funding of up to ₹10 Lakhs is offered based on a business plan such as starting a beauty parlour, bakery, tailoring shop and more.
Government Schemes for Startup Growth
Apart from schemes aimed at the financial inclusion of women, there are also many lucrative government schemes for startups. These are:
- Digital India GENESIS: The Digital India GENESIS (Gen-Next Support for Innovative Startups) is a national deeptech startup platform which intends to invest in the growth of 10,000 tech startups, over the next five years.
- The Startup India Seed Fund Scheme: This government scheme provides funds to new startups readying to enter the market. It is a part of the Startup India Initiative, which aims to catalyse startup culture in India.
According to global statistics, women-led start-ups provide 35% higher ROI compared to those led by men. This shows that women are well-equipped with the business acumen and leadership skills needed to grow their businesses.
If as a female entrepreneur in India, you are limited by a lack of funds, you can make use of these schemes to access the credit you need. You can also make use of the government schemes for startups. Make sure to research all possible financial tools to support your venture, and start building your business today!