With more than 61,400 startups, India’s startup ecosystem has added more firepower to become the third-largest hub globally after the US and China.Bengaluru has been one of the top startup ecosystems in India that has catalysed risk-taking among entrepreneurs with a conducive policy framework. But the gender divide is still stark. A slew of initiatives from incubation programmes, grants and fellowships offered to women-founded startups are trying to address the gender gap.
Karnataka, for instance, is the first state in the country to provide grant-in-aid of Rs 50 lakh to encourage innovators who need early-stage funding to startups without taking equity in return. This programme has put the spotlight on women entrepreneurs, resulting in 30% winners being women founders.
Tracxn counts Zomato, Byju’s, Ofbusiness, Upstox, Lenskart and Open among the top 10 women-led startups in the country. The funding landscape for women-led companies showed a significant surge in the number of rounds, rising from 171 in 2014 to 460 in 2022. However, in 2023, the number of rounds dropped to 185. The funding into women-led startups has decreased from 183 startups in 2014 to a mere 7 this year.
The number of women-led unicorns from 2008 to 2018 was 14, the data showed. Bengaluru-based neobank Open, which became the 100th unicorn, has two women co-founders — also its COO Mabel Chacko and CFO Deena Jacob. Nykaa, Mamaearth, Hasura, Pristyn Care, OfBusiness, Mobikwik, The Good Glamm Group, and Livspace are the other Indian unicorns with at least one women co-founder.