E-com route for increasing women workforce
Monday September 20, 2021, By Janani Sampath
E-commerce is fast evolving to be the catalyst in increasing women’s workforce participation, offering both employment and entrepreneurial opportunities.
In recent times, e-commerce has shown its potential to enable entrepreneurs who look for avenues to make it into the market. While women entrepreneurs account for just about 13 percent of the businesses, the potential is much more, especially with a large number of them in rural India. Bringing them on the platform has been a strong business mission for the players in e-commerce.
Among the big names, the Amazon Saheli initiative takes the products far and wide through the platform. The e-commerce site supports over 80,000 of them, who market products like handicrafts, handloom items, accessories, jewelry, and more.
More recently, Meesho, an Indian-origin social commerce platform, launched the WEHUB platform for women entrepreneurs from Telangana. It aims to serve as an exclusive incubator for marketing the products. Similarly, Shopify has been showcasing its success stories of women entrepreneurs that have found success with products ranging from health food products to accessories and sarees.
E-commerce supports women workforce: Avtar study
A recent report by Avtar has found that e-commerce, alongside Information Technology (IT), Banking Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI), manufacturing, and pharma, is emerging to be a sought-after industry for women, especially the ones in the midcareer stage (with 6 -15 years of experience).
The study ‘Women, careers, and marriage: Evolving dynamics in India Inc. in the post COVID world’ conducted across 11 cities in India, analyzed over 1300 applications by women across the sector in two months (December 2020 – February 2021). The study has found that 14 percent of the women applicants are in the E-commerce category. In the same group, at least 90 % of them are married, indicating that the sector accommodates their needs in the stage of marriage and motherhood.
The finding can be corroborated with publicly available data for the growth in the representation of women in the e-commerce sector. According to an analysis by Nasscom (The National Association of Software and Service Companies), there has been a 22 percent year-on-year growth in the e-commerce workforce in 2020. With many women entrepreneurs concentrated in the e-commerce sector, the sector renders itself to women’s employment.
Need more women to use Internet
E-commerce, which is being seen as a solution to the perennial problem of lack of jobs, has demonstrated the potential to increase women’s workforce participation. However, while Internet has opened opportunities for women, it is also necessary to get more women to use the net. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, while overall, 12 percent fewer women use the net than men, the percentage gap is as high as 25 percent in some parts of the world. In India, as per some reports, only 35 percent of women are active internet users.
Most importantly, women also need support from the community as buyers that can truly grow the number of entrepreneurs.
- With close to 15 years of experience in journalism across beats in multiple mediums, Janani Sampath is senior content writer and assistant editor, Diversity Digest.