“Under the MUDRA scheme, the cumulative number of women borrowers is almost 98 million, while their repayment percentage stands at an impressive 99.99 per cent,” she claimed addressing a group of women entrepreneurs in Lucknow.
Launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015, the Mudra Yojana is aimed at developing India’s micro-enterprises by providing loans of up to Rs 1 million to non-corporate and non-farming businesses. It is also targetted at relieving small borrowers from the clutches of moneylenders and middlemen who charge exorbitant rates.
So far, the scheme, which is not gender-specific, has provided loans worth more than Rs 6 trillion to 120 million people with the majority being women and youth.
However, Irani lamented that the total number of women entrepreneurs in the country was still less and reflected the need to further empower and encourage women to come forward.
“As per the sixth economic census, the total number of women entrepreneurs was pegged at 13 per cent, of which only five per cent of women were engaged in non-farm enterprises with the remaining working in the agricultural sector,” she informed.
The union minister observed that in earlier times, a nation’s success was measured in terms of gross domestic product (GDP), however, now it is measured in human development index (HDI). “This makes it all the more imperative to invest in women," Irani said.
Referring to a study by a global management consulting firm McKinsey, Irani said the country’s growth would proliferate from 16 per cent to 60 per cent by 2025 if women were more empowered and facilitated to take up entrepreneurial roles.
Further, she noted women also faced the challenge of ‘language barrier’ in pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams, since most women folks were still not comfortable and conversant in the popular business/trade lingos.
Giving an example of the Indian film industry, Irani, who is also a former TV actress, said women should take up more technical roles in filmmaking beyond just acting.
“One would notice there is a dearth of women in the technical aspects of films such as, editing, cinematography, animation etc. The need is to position our girls to groom for such technical roles as well beyond acting and creative direction,” she added.
Besides, she called upon society and fellow women entrepreneurs to support other women entrepreneurs and professionals, even if they fail in the first attempt, just like men professionals, especially filmmakers are given another chance.