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Government Schemes for Women Entrepreneurs in India (2024)

government schemes for women entrepreneurs startup lawyer for women entrepreneurs

Introduction

Government initiatives aimed at empowering women through various schemes represent a significant step forward in achieving gender equality and fostering women’s socio-economic development. These schemes, designed to address the multifaceted challenges faced by women across different stages of life, play a crucial role in bridging the gender gap and creating a more inclusive society. By providing access to resources, opportunities, and support systems, these initiatives empower women to realize their full potential, contribute to the economy, and lead fulfilling lives.

From programs focused on skill development, entrepreneurship, and financial inclusion to those aimed at enhancing women’s safety, health, and well-being, the government’s efforts underscore a commitment to creating a conducive environment for women to thrive. By investing in women’s education, healthcare, and economic empowerment, these schemes not only promote gender equity but also drive overall social and economic progress.

As women are empowered to participate more actively in the workforce, decision-making processes, and community development initiatives, the nation moves closer to achieving a balanced and equitable society for all its citizens.

If you are looking to start your startup, read our guide on how to start startup in India.

Bharatiya Mahila Bank

Established in 2013, Bhartiya Mahila Bank emerged as a pioneering force dedicated to empowering women in India’s financial setup. With a focused vision on promoting economic opportunities and gender equality, the bank aimed to provide women with access to financial resources and support for entrepreneurship. By breaking down barriers and fostering inclusive banking practices, Bhartiya Mahila Bank became a catalyst for female-driven innovation and growth, contributing to broader social and economic development. Currently, the Bhartiya Mahila Bank has been merged with State Bank of India.

Benefits

  1. Access to Business Loans: Women entrepreneurs gain access to business loans for various purposes such as working capital and business expansion.
  2. Higher Loan Amounts: Manufacturing enterprises can avail loans up to Rs. 20 Crores, facilitating substantial business growth.
  3. Attractive Interest Rates: Special business loans are offered at competitive interest rates, making borrowing more affordable.
  4. Collateral-Free Loans: Loans up to Rs. 1 crore are provided without the need for collateral under CGTMSE cover, reducing the burden on borrowers.
  5. Empowerment of Women: The scheme promotes economic independence and empowerment among women by providing them with financial resources to pursue their entrepreneurial endeavours.

Eligibility Criteria

  1. Business Structure: Sole proprietors, partnership firms, public and private limited companies, and cooperative societies are eligible to apply.
  2. Work Experience: Minimum of 2 years of work experience is required, with continuity in business for self-employed individuals.
  3. Age Requirement: Applicants must be at least 21 years old and not exceed 60 years at the time of loan completion.
  4. Minimum Income: A minimum take-home income of Rs. 25,000 per month is necessary.
  5. Co-Applicants: Co-applicants such as spouses/parents/children may be required for certain loan types, especially for housing loans and LAP.

Application Process

  1. Approach the Branch: Visit the nearest BMB branch to initiate the application process.
  2. Get an Application Form: Obtain the application form from the bank office.
  3. Fill in the Right Credentials: Complete the form with accurate details, including enterprise information, personal details, loan requirements, and banking details.
  4. Submit the Application Form: Present the completed form to the concerned bank official along with all required supporting documents.
  5. Attach Required Documents: Ensure all specified KYC documents are attached for verification purposes.

Mudra Yojana

The Mudra Loan for Women, also known as the Mudra Yojana Loan Scheme or Mahila Udhyami Yojana, is a government initiative aimed at empowering women entrepreneurs. It provides loans of up to Rs 10 lakh without the need for collateral, offering low-interest rates and flexible repayment options.

Benefits

  1. Empowering Women Entrepreneurs: The scheme promotes women’s entrepreneurship by providing financial support for business ventures.
  2. Access to Capital: Women can secure loans of varying amounts, up to Rs 10 lakh, to establish or expand their businesses.
  3. Collateral-Free Loans: Unlike traditional loans, the Mudra Yojana Scheme does not require collateral, making it accessible to a wider range of women entrepreneurs.
  4. Low-Interest Rates: The scheme offers loans with competitive interest rates, making repayment more manageable for borrowers.
  5. Flexible Repayment Tenures: Borrowers can choose repayment tenures that suit their financial capabilities, enhancing the ease of loan repayment.

Eligibility Criteria

  1. Age Requirement: Women aged between 18 and 65 are eligible to apply for the scheme.
  2. Business Types: The scheme supports non-farm, non-corporate businesses in sectors such as service, commerce, and manufacturing.
  3. Preference for Certain Occupations: Preference is given to women in vocations such as craftsmen and weavers, as well as those trained in professional institutes.
  4. Good Credit History: Applicants must have a good credit score and no criminal records.

Application Process

Steps to Apply for a Mudra Loan:

  1. Self-Assessment: Assess your business needs and choose the suitable Mudra loan category (Shishu, Kishor, or Tarun) accordingly.
  2. Business Plan: Create a comprehensive business plan detailing your objectives and how the loan will be utilized.
  3. Choose a Lender: Select a financial institution offering Mudra loans and review their eligibility criteria.
  4. Gather Documents: Collect required documents such as identity proof, address proof, business plan, bank statements, caste certificate and other specific documents as per the lender’s requirements.
  5. Loan Application: Fill out the Mudra loan application form accurately and completely.
  6. Submit Application: Submit your application along with the necessary documents to your chosen lender.
  7. Assessment and Verification: The lender will assess your application, conduct checks, and verify the provided information.
  8. Loan Approval: Upon approval, understand the loan terms including the amount, interest rates, and repayment schedule.
  9. Loan Utilization: Utilize the disbursed funds for your business needs as outlined in your plan.
  10. Repayment: Adhere to the repayment schedule and make timely payments to maintain a positive credit history.

Follow these steps diligently to navigate the Mudra loan application process successfully and access the financial support needed for your entrepreneurial endeavor.

Success Story of the Scheme

  1. Rajani Sharma – A beneficiary of the Kishor category, Rajani Sharma utilized a Rs. 2,00,000 loan to launch her clothing boutique, creating employment opportunities and enhancing her community’s fashion culture.
  2. Neha Singh – Leveraging a Tarun loan of Rs. 7,00,000, Neha Singh established a food processing unit specialising in traditional snacks. Her venture preserved local culinary traditions and employed women in her village.

These success stories illustrate how Mudra loans empower women to overcome socio-economic challenges, fostering entrepreneurship and contributing to local and national economic growth.

Dena Shakti Scheme

The Dena Shakti Scheme offers financial support to women entrepreneurs, providing loans of up to ₹20 lakh for various sectors such as agriculture, micro-enterprises, manufacturing, and retail. With a concessional interest rate of 0.25%, this scheme aims to empower women in business endeavors.

Benefits

  1. Concessional Interest Rates: Women entrepreneurs receive loans at a reduced interest rate, easing financial burdens.
  2. Combination of Term Loan and Working Capital: The scheme provides both term loans and working capital, catering to diverse funding needs, and facilitating business growth.
  3. Easy Repayment Options: Loans can be repaid through EMIs spread over a maximum tenure of 7 years, ensuring manageable repayment schedules.
  4. Microcredit Finance: Small businesses, particularly in rural areas, benefit from microcredit finance, promoting economic independence and growth at the grassroots level.

Eligibility Criteria

  1. Ownership or operation of a small business in sectors like retail, agriculture, micro-enterprises, or manufacturing.
  2. Self-employment in professions such as chartered accountants, architects, doctors, etc.
  3. Sole proprietorship or at least 50% stake in the business ownership.
  4. Participation in Entrepreneurship Development Programs (EDP) organized by state agencies.

Application Process

To apply for the Dena Shakti Scheme, visit the nearest Dena Bank branch, complete the application form, and submit the required documents. Once eligibility is confirmed, the loan is sanctioned.

Startup India Initiative

Launched by the Central Government on January 16th, 2016, the Startup India scheme aims to facilitate easy financing for start-ups to boost entrepreneurship in India.

Benefits

The Start-up India scheme provides pivotal advantages tailored to empower women entrepreneurs:

  1. Tax Exemptions: Women entrepreneurs benefit from tax exemptions, easing financial burdens and enabling reinvestment in business growth.
  2. Cost Reduction: Access to the scheme reduces operational costs, allowing for more efficient resource allocation and business expansion.
  3. Streamlined Business Closure: Simplified closure procedures within 90 days offer flexibility and ease in managing ventures, minimizing bureaucratic hurdles and costs.
  4. Access to Funds: Enhanced access to financial resources supports women entrepreneurs in scaling their businesses and fostering innovation.
  5. Labour and Environmental Law Self-Certification: Self-certification of compliance reduces administrative burdens and expenses associated with regulatory requirements.
  6. Expedited Patent Registration: With an 80% fee rebate, women entrepreneurs benefit from accelerated patent registration, safeguarding their innovative ideas and fostering creativity.

In essence, these tailored benefits empower women entrepreneurs to navigate the entrepreneurial journey with greater support, fostering a conducive environment for success and growth.

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for registration with Startup India, applicants must meet specific eligibility criteria outlined below:

  1. Age Requirement: Applicants must be Indian citizens aged 18 or above.
  2. Firm’s Age: The company’s Date of Incorporation should not exceed ten years.
  3. Company Type: The entity must be incorporated as a Partnership Firm, Private Limited Company, or a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP).
  4. Annual Turnover: The company’s annual turnover should not exceed Rs. 100 crore in any financial year since incorporation.
  5. Original Entity: The company or entity must have been formed initially by the promoters and not through splitting up or reconstructing an existing business.
  6. Innovation and Scalability: The startup should have a plan for developing or improving a product, process, or service, with a scalable business model showing high potential for creating wealth and employment.

Furthermore, companies focusing on developing a new product or service can benefit under the Startup India policy if they meet the following conditions:

  1. Utilization of Latest Technology: Startups must work to develop, deploy, or commercialize products or services driven by the latest technology or intellectual property.
  2. Enhancement of Existing or New Products: Startups should aim to improve existing products or create new ones to enhance customer value or workflow.
  3. Uniqueness: Startups must be solely focused on developing and commercializing unique products to enrich customer value or enhance workflow.

Startup registration requires approval from DPIIT and a recommendation from an affiliated incubator or one recognized by the Central Government. Additionally, having a patent published in the Indian Patent Office journals is beneficial. SEBI registration is mandatory for startups offering funding and equity services. Funding support from government schemes, partnership shares, with 51% owned by women or individuals from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, also adds to eligibility.

Application Process

  1. Incorporation: Ensure the startup is registered as a private limited company, partnership, or LLP.
  2. Startup India Registration: Complete the registration process by visiting the website.
  3. DPIIT Recognition: Apply via the Startup India portal and specify the entity type.
  4. Document Submission: Submit necessary documents including incorporation papers, funding details, and the PAN of the startup.
  5. Self-Certification: Confirm compliance with eligibility criteria such as being within 5 years of incorporation and having a turnover less than Rs. 100 Cr.
  6. Recognition Number: Obtain an instant number upon application submission. A certificate will be issued after review.

SAMARTH Initiative

This initiative by the Ministry of MSME aims to provide Skill Development and Market Development Assistance to women entrepreneurs. In the fiscal year 2022-23, over 7500 women candidates from rural and suburban areas will receive training. Additionally, numerous women will have the opportunity to exhibit their products in both domestic and international exhibitions, opening up marketing avenues for their businesses.

Benefits

Under the Samarth initiative of the Ministry, the following benefits will be available to aspiring and existing women entrepreneurs:

  • 20% of seats in free Skill Development Programs organized by the Ministry will be reserved for women, benefiting more than 7500 women.
  • 20% of MSME Business Delegations sent to domestic and international exhibitions, under the Ministry’s Marketing Assistance schemes, will be allocated to women-owned MSMEs.
  • Women-owned MSMEs will receive a 20% discount on the annual processing fee for NSIC’s Commercial Schemes.
  • A special drive will be conducted to facilitate the registration of women-owned MSMEs under the Udyam Registration scheme.

Udyogini Scheme

Udyogini, which translates to Women Entrepreneur, is a scheme initiated by the Government of India for the welfare and development of Indian women entrepreneurs. Implemented by the Women Development Corporation under the Government of India, this scheme aims to promote and encourage women’s entrepreneurship among the economically disadvantaged by providing financial support for business ventures. By enhancing individual and family incomes, the Udyogini Scheme contributes to the overall growth of the country.

Benefits

  1. Competitive, subsidized, or interest-free loans are provided under the Udyogini Scheme.
  2. Maximum loan amount of up to Rs. 3 lakh is available.
  3. Annual family income limit of Rs. 1.5 lakh or less, with no income limit for widowed or disabled women.
  4. No requirement of collateral.
  5. Nil processing fee. Note: Interest rates may vary and are subject to the discretion of the Government of India and respective banks or NBFCs.

Eligibility Criteria

  1. Business loans are available exclusively for women entrepreneurs.
  2. Applicants should not have defaulted on any past loans with financial institutions.
  3. Good credit score and repayment capability are essential.

Eligible Entities

The Udyogini Yojana, offered by various banks nationwide, is accessible to aspiring women entrepreneurs, particularly those from rural areas. It aims to promote women’s entrepreneurship and financial empowerment through subsidized loans.

Application Process and Required Documents

To apply for a business loan under this scheme, applicants can visit the nearest bank with the required documents or apply online through the official website of participating banks or NBFCs. Detailed features and eligibility criteria for loans are provided by leading banks and NBFCs offering loans under the Udyogini scheme.

Steps includes:

  1. Fill out the application form with passport-sized photographs.
  2. Provide Aadhaar card, birth certificate, Below Poverty Line (BPL) card, and ration card.
  3. Submit address and income proofs, caste certificate if applicable, and a copy of the bank passbook.
  4. Any additional documents required by the bank/NBFC.

Annapurna Yojana

The Annapurna Scheme, initiated by the Government of India’s Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, supports women entrepreneurs in the food service sector by providing financial assistance and promoting female entrepreneurship.

Benefits

  1. Women entrepreneurs can avail loans up to Rs. 50,000 without collateral under the Annapurna Scheme.
  2. The loan tenure is 36 months, with interest rates determined by the lending institution.
  3. The scheme facilitates easy access to credit for women in the food service industry, enabling them to meet their working capital requirements and foster business growth.

Eligibility Criteria

  1. Exclusive to female food catering entrepreneurs who are Indian citizens aged 18 and above.
  2. Applicants must have prior experience in the food and catering business.
  3. They should own and operate small-scale food catering businesses operational for at least one year.
  4. Applicants should have a good credit rating and must not have defaulted on any previous loans.

Application Process

  1. Contact a participating bank or financial institution in your area and obtain the scheme’s application form.
  2. Complete the application form and attach necessary documents such as age proof, identity proof, address proof, bank account information, and a passport-sized photograph.
  3. Submit the form along with documents to the bank or financial institution.
  4. Upon verification, the loan will be processed, and upon approval, the funds will be transferred to the applicant’s account.

Participating Banks & Financial Institutions: State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Bank of Baroda, Canara Bank etc.

Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP)

The Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP) stands as a pioneering, unified access portal, fostering connections among from diverse regions of India to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. Spearheaded by NITI Aayog, this initiative is dedicated to cultivating an ecosystem where women across India can actualize their entrepreneurial ambitions, scale innovative initiatives, and devise sustainable, long-term strategies for their businesses.

With a vision to significantly augment the number of women entrepreneurs contributing to the vibrant landscape of New India, WEP operates on three foundational pillars:

  1. Ichha Shakti: Encouraging aspiring women entrepreneurs to embark on their entrepreneurial journey.
  2. Gyaan Shakti: Providing knowledge and ecosystem support to women founders to foster entrepreneurship.
  3. Karma Shakti: Extending hands-on support to entrepreneurs in establishing and scaling up their startups and businesses.

WEP endeavors to address the challenges encountered by both aspiring and established women entrepreneurs by streamlining information on government and private sector schemes and initiatives.

In addition to offering services such as free credit ratings, mentorship, funding support, apprenticeship opportunities, and corporate partnerships, WEP encourages entrepreneurs to share their journeys, stories, and experiences, facilitating mutual learning and growth. As a catalyst for change, the WEP platform also champions offline initiatives and outreach programs to foster an entrepreneurial spirit among potential women entrepreneurs, in collaboration with partner organizations.

Operating within a broader framework of industry collaborations and partnerships cutting across sectors in the economy, WEP is poised to make significant strides in empowering and enabling women entrepreneurs across India.

Awareness and Capacity Building Workshops

The department hosts a range of workshops aimed at raising awareness and building capacity among women entrepreneurs. These workshops cover diverse topics and feature successful entrepreneurs who share their entrepreneurial experiences. Participants in these sessions include numerous women, encompassing both aspiring and established entrepreneurs.

WING: A Capacity Development Program for Women Entrepreneurs

Startup India has initiated a nationwide women entrepreneurship program known as WING, which hosts two types of workshops tailored for entrepreneurs: advanced workshops for existing innovators and basic workshops for aspiring ones. These basic workshops provide insights on pitching techniques and guidance to kickstart the entrepreneurship journey, while the advanced workshops are dedicated to enhancing the capacity of female entrepreneurs.

WING, as Startup India’s flagship Capacity Development Program for Women Entrepreneurs, operated from February 2019 to August 2020, facilitating support for both existing and budding women entrepreneurs across the country. Throughout the program, 24 workshops were conducted in 10 States, directly impacting over 1,390 women. Participants benefited from mentorship by industry experts, pitching opportunities, incubation offers, and comprehensive business training workshops covering product development, marketing strategies, and technical aspects.

National Startup Awards (NSA)

The inaugural National Startup Awards (NSA) concluded in October 2020, aimed to honor and celebrate exceptional startups and ecosystem enablers driving innovation and scalable enterprises. Despite challenging circumstances, the Indian startup ecosystem exhibited remarkable resilience and innovation, contributing significantly to the nation’s socio-economic progress. Building on the success of the first edition, the National Startup Awards 2021 continued to recognize outstanding contributions, emphasizing not only financial success but also measurable societal impact.

Aligned with the spirit of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, NSA 2022 spotlighted startups and enablers pivotal in India’s transformative journey and aligned with the vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat. Over the three editions, NSA witnessed remarkable participation, with over 6,400 startups, 130 incubators, and 20 accelerators across various categories. Notably, more than 100 startups, 4 incubators, and 3 accelerators were honored as winners in their respective fields, receiving accolades at a specially organized event.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for consideration:

  1. The startup must be recognized by DPIIT, and the entity should furnish its certificate of recognition.
  2. The entity must provide either the Certificate of Incorporation issued by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs or the Certificate of Registration from the Registrar of Firms of the respective state.
  3. The entity must have a hardware or software product, or a process solution that is already in the market.
  4. All relevant trade-specific registrations (such as CE, FSSAI, MSME, GST Registration, etc.) must be obtained by the entity.
  5. There should be no defaults within the last three fiscal years (FY 2019-20, 20-21, 21-22) by the entity, its promoters, or any of their affiliated entities.
  6. Audited financial statements (including balance sheet and profit & loss account) for the preceding three financial years (FY 2019-20, 20-21, 21-22) must be submitted by the entity.
  7. The entity should not reach the 10-year mark of incorporation on or before March 31st, 2024.

Details of the Award

  1. DPIIT will grant a cash prize of INR 10 lakhs to one winning startup in each category.
  2. Winners and finalists will have the chance to present their solutions to relevant public authorities and corporates for potential pilot projects and work orders.
  3. Priority access will be given to winners and finalists for participation in various national and international startup events where DPIIT is involved.

Success Story of the Scheme

Autocracy Machinery Private Limited, based in Hyderabad, Telangana, emerged as a winner in the Women-Led Innovation – Other Specialty Retailers category at the National Startup Awards, 2023. Founded by Santoshi Buddhiraju, Laxman Vallakati, and Brahma N Reddy Vanga, the company specializes in producing specialized machinery and attachments for agriculture and construction sectors. Their focus on affordability and innovation has made them a key player in the industry, contributing to India’s socio-economic growth.

Startup India Innovation Week

During the vibrant second and third weeks of January 2024, the Startup India Innovation Week took center stage, showcasing India’s dynamic startup ecosystem for the celebration of inspiration, knowledge exchange, and growth. Whether you were an aspiring entrepreneur, seasoned investor, or simply passionate about India’s future, there was plenty to explore and learn from.

Participants delved into a sea of knowledge with insightful webinars covering diverse topics, from navigating funding landscapes to scaling ventures globally. The virtual stage was open for exploration, allowing attendees to learn from industry experts and gain practical strategies to propel their startups forward.

Way Forward

The implementation of various women empowerment schemes in India has led to significant advancements in addressing the multifaceted needs of women across the country. These initiatives have not only provided social security and increased earning opportunities but have also fostered an environment where women can freely address their concerns with authorities and balance their professional and familial responsibilities effectively.

With access to facilities such as daycare centers and government hostels, women entrepreneurs and founders are empowered to pursue education, career growth, and special support in starting their startup. As we continue to witness the positive impact of these initiatives, women must leverage these opportunities to establish themselves as educated and empowered individuals within society.

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