Entrepreneurial spirit among Assamese women

T he economic growth and development of a country is determined by its human, physical and fincial resources. To move on to higher levels of growth, an economy should either acquire a larger quantum of the factors of production or should focus on its technical progress. Therefore industrialization is one of the ways of bringing in socio-economic development. The economic development of a tion is directly proportiol to the enterprising spirit of its tiols. A country may be rich in material resources and capital but if it lacks entrepreneurship, the optimum utilization of resources will not take place.
Entrepreneurship is the activity undertaken by an entrepreneur in the pursuit of entrepreneurial objective. Different authors have defined entrepreneur in different ways. According to JB say, “An entrepreneur is an important agent of production who gets together other factors of production. He is the economic agent who unites all means of production i.e., the labour, the capital and he finds the value of the products which result from their employment, reconstitution of the capital that he utilizes, the interest and the rent he pays as well as the profits belonging to him.” In the words of Joseph A. Schumpeter, “The entrepreneur in an advanced economy is an individual who introduces something new in the economy; a method of production not yet tested by branch of manufacture concerned, a product with which the consumers are not yet familiar, a new source of raw material or of new market and the like.”
Women entrepreneurship refers to where the activities relating to the maging and owning of a business enterprise is done by a woman or by a group of women. In the Indian context, women entrepreneurship is a path breaking and revolutiory concept. It is beneficial to the woman, her family and the society as a whole. Traditiolly, the role of woman in India in decision making is very limited and Assam has not been an exception. She could not even take decision in her persol area of interest; forget about family or social decisions. Therefore the very first benefit of women entrepreneurship is gaining economic independence.  This economic independence will provide them with a sense of pride and confidence to take part in the decision making process. It is the first step towards women empowerment.
The data provided by 2011 census shows that 85.92% of the population of Assam is rural based and among them, 48.88% are females. But in contrast to that most of the women entrepreneurs are urban based. As such, the contribution of such huge chunk of rural women population in entrepreneurial activity is very negligible and this needs to be improved. On the other hand, Assam accounts for 18% women entrepreneurs as against a tiol average of 7.7%. Besides, the potential for developing the spirit of entrepreneurship among Assamese women is very high. The problems associated with the women from rural areas are: Individual problems like problem of lack of motivation, problem of pre-reserved with household chores/agricultural task/social ceremony etc., problem of low rate of education, problem of lack of technical knowhow, lack of awareness about the govt. initiatives promoting entrepreneurship, feeling of inferiority complex, emotiol attachment with home/family, feeling of insecurity and afraid of social taboos, problem of fince etc.; Social problems like role expectations of a good homemaker by her family and society, male domince in a patriarchal society, lack of family support etc.; Structural problems like failure of the govt. to attract the women to take up entrepreneurship due to lackluster policies, lack of proper infrastructure like scientific godowns/warehouses/cold storage/roads/electricity/irrigatiol problems etc. creating obstacles in the growth of entrepreneurship and lack of proper circulation of information among the target groups of women.
Traditiolly, the Assamese women are engaged in activities like weaving, knitting, embroidery, beauty parlors, jam, jelly and pickle making etc. However, it has been observed recently that many are also venturing into non-traditiol traits. Some of the women entrepreneurs from Assam who have maged to create a niche for themselves surviving all odds includes: Bipani Talukdar (founder of Assam handicraft trader Pansy Exports), Joyetta Chaudhury (founder of Delice Bakery and Confectionery Food Item Shop, Ganeshguri, Guwahati), Tanushree Hazarika (founder of Tattva Creations and the Eclectic Magazine), Jahbi Phookan ( founder of Jungle Travels India, Guwahati and co-founder of Assam-Bengal vigation, Kolkata), Meghali Bora (proprietor of Megha Food Products, Jorhat), Dalimi Patgiri (innovator and producer of utensils from arecanut ‘tambul’ sheets in association with NGO Dhriiti- The Courage Within), Laxmi Baruah (founder cum maging director of Kaklata Mahila Urban Co-operative Bank, Jorhat). Apart from these women entrepreneurs, there are many other mes too but it is impossible to mention about all of them here due to space constraints. Certain factors acted behind them to make them who they are today which can be grouped under ‘Pull’ and ‘Push’ factors’. Pull factors refer to the urge to undertake ventures with an inclition to start a business. Women entering business, driven by fincial need due to family circumstances are said to be push factors.
Of late a number of organized attempts have been made to help groom women as potential entrepreneurs. More thrust has been given to keep up the spirit of women entrepreneurs. Previously, the nodal ministry of the union govt. in charge of this mission was the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) but now there has been a change of guard and the newly created Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship is in charge. The ministry is responsible for co-ordition of all skill development efforts across the country, removal of disconnect between demand and supply of skilled manpower, building the vocatiol and technical training framework, skill up-gradation, building of new skills, and innovative thinking not only for existing jobs but also for jobs that are to be created. The ministry aims to Skill on a large Scale with Speed and high Standards in order to achieve its vision of a ‘Skilled India’. It is aided in these initiatives by its functiol arms viz., tiol Skill Development Agency (NSDA), tiol Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), tiol Skill Development Fund (NSDF) and 33 Sector Skill Councils (SSCs) as well as 187 training partners registered with NSDC. The ministry also intends to work with the existing network of skill development centres, universities and other alliances in the field. Further, collaborations with relevant Central Ministries, state govts., intertiol organizations, banks and fincial institutions, industry and NGOs have been initiated for multi-level engagement and more impactful implementation of skill development and entrepreneurial efforts.   The promotiol agencies are firmly determined to turn the smoldering fire into flames. Thus with their active support, women entrepreneurship is rapidly increasing and it is expected to develop every nook and corner of the country and Assam specifically in the years to come.

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