The small and medium enterprise sector in India is set to undergo a transformation, as women increasingly take to entrepreneurship.
And realising the need to upgrade their managerial skills to accomplish the multi-tasking required of a small-scale entrepreneur, women entrepreneurs are also taking the help of mentoring programmes from B-schools and marquee names in the business world.
Shweta Patil's Shweta Engineers Private Limited, based in Pune, specialises in the manufacture of crank shafts -- typically a male-dominated business.
She has increased her revenue from Rs 4.2 million per year at the start of her entry into the programme to Rs 9.6 million today, and her employee strength from 20 to 40.
"I have taken steps to mitigate risks by way of customer and component diversification," says Patil, one of 580 women who have received training under the 10,000 Wome programme -- an initiative by Goldman Sachs to provide underserved female entrepreneurs around the world with a business and management education, as well as mentoring, through a network of partner institutions (the partner in India is the Indian School of Business or ISB, Hyderabad).
When Patil began pursuing the programme she was making only crank shafts for automobiles. Later she added pin milling and engine components to her portfolio. She has also entered into contracts with several automobile companies in the Pune region and is exploring a new line of products.
She has also developed her company website so that she can reach out to customers through online communication. She recently added six machines and hired 16 additional employees.
Mukkamala Bala Tripura Sundari, based in Hyderabad, runs Involute Institute of Industrial Training (P) Ltd, which she established in 2010, and which trains engineers and other technical employees of companies.
She runs both open and customised programmes. She did not have a business strategy before starting the 10,000 Women programme, and she had just six employees.
With the help of the programme she identified the automotive industry as her target market and is training people in specific areas.
She redesigned her training products and sought expert help from the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation.
Unido has identified and assigned German experts to help her establish laboratory facilities and a detailed course structure.
Sundari also established tie-ups with government technical training institutes for the use of their facilities and major automotive companies as customers.
Having moved to a better location, she is in the process of employing 40 more employees and adding 10,000 sq ft of space.
Before the 10,000 Women programme she had a revenue of Rs 0.8 million; this year she is targeting Rs 20 million. She is also in the process of obtaining a loan of Rs 30 million from the National Skill Development Corporation.
Seema Khosla, an entrepreneur from Delhi, who designs, manufactures and installs modular kitchens, says that a partnership between educational and business experts can bring about a significant change through improved business education for women. She expects to increase her business eight-fold after completing the programme.
ISB has set a target of reaching out to 1,100 women entrepreneurs through this programme in India by December 2013, said Geetha Krishnan, director, technology assisted learning, at ISB.
The programme has covered women in big cities and is now being rolled out in tier-II towns.
Krishnan added that working with classes of 30 women in each cohort, the programme includes 150 hours of training in entrepreneurship and business management, business planning, marketing, finance, accounting and human resource management.
The programme is set to boost women's participation in entrepreneurial activities, which is low in India.