India Witnesses an 18% Rise in Women-Led Startups and 17% Growth in Unicorns

In 2017, Indian startups received $5.9 billion in venture capital funding, but only 11 percent of that money went to startups led by women. Fast forward to 2022

In India's dynamic and ever-changing startup landscape, women entrepreneurs are making significant strides towards achieving success, turning their startups into flourishing enterprises. The 'Women in India's Startup Ecosystem Report' (WISER) reveals that female-led startups in India have witnessed remarkable expansion, now comprising 18 percent of the startup ecosystem over the last five years.

Looking back to 2017, India had approximately 6,000 startups, and only 10 percent of them were under the leadership of women. Now, in 2022, the startup landscape has seen a tremendous growth, with a total of 80,000 startups, and women-led ventures have made a remarkable ascent, representing an impressive 18 percent of the market.

The WISER report shows that in 2022, 105 startups in India reached the prestigious status of being a “unicorn”, which means they are worth over $1 billion. This is a big leap from 2017 when only 13 startups achieved this status. What is even more impressive is that the percentage of unicorn startups led by women has risen from 8 percent to 17 percent, indicating their growing importance in the business world.

The data for the WISER report comes from over 200 startups, including well-renowned startups such as Urban Company, Meesho, and Zomato. This indicates that there is growing interest and support for businesses led by women in India's startup community.

women led startups, unicorn startups, India startup ecosystem, Indian startups, female entrepreneurs, startup growth in India, gender equality

In 2017, Indian startups received $5.9 billion in venture capital funding, but only 11 percent of that money went to startups led by women. Fast forward to 2022, and the total VC funding for startups had grown to $21.9 billion, with 20 percent of it now going to women-led startups. This change highlights a positive shift in investment patterns, creating better opportunities for female entrepreneurs.

Aakanksha Gulati, Director of ACT explains that the the startup scene in India has witnessed extraordinary growth, expanding from 6,000 to 80,000 startups within the last five years. She shares that what is particularly noteworthy is the rapid progress of women-led startups, both in terms of their numbers and the funding they receive, which is surpassing the industry average. If this trend endures, it offers hope for a continued rise in the percentage of women-led startups in the coming decade. 

The report highlights the increasing presence of women in leadership roles within startup companies compared to traditional corporate firms. Currently, startups are performing better in this regard, with 32% of women holding managerial positions, while in corporate settings, it's only 21%. This gap becomes even more pronounced at the CXO level, where corporations have just 5% of women in leadership roles, in contrast to startups, where 18% of such positions are held by women. Additionally, startups led by women founders tend to have 2.5 times more women in senior roles compared to startups led by men.

However, despite these encouraging statistics, there is still significant progress to be made. The report points out that a decade into their careers, 8 out of 10 men in startups hold Director-level positions or higher, whereas only 5 out of 10 women achieve the same level of leadership.

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