Pursuit of happiness: How entrepreneurship is helping rural women find their own mantra of being ‘happy’

by Emma

Autonomy comes forth as a chief factor of happiness in women entrepreneurs. By Prof. Piyush Sinha, Prof. Rajesh Gupta, and Dr. Rooba Hasan

Ease of Doing Business for MSMEs: In India, the women population constitutes about 48 percent of the total population. However, only 14 percent of them take to entrepreneurship, according to the Seventh Economic Census, 2019. A decline is also noticed in the employment of the working women population as per the 2014 NSSO Report. This decline is sharper among rural women than their urban counterparts. It is arduous to visualize a sustainable future with this small percentage of women entrepreneurs. It is suggested that the country’s GDP would grow by $0.7 trillion by 2025 when women would take to entrepreneurship and other economic activities. The Covid-19 pandemic has also accentuated the need for women’s employment.

Pursuit of happiness: How entrepreneurship is helping rural women find their own mantra of being ‘happy’

The answer to this rising need for employment lies in creating micro-enterprises that address the local markets and use the local resources to enhance economic development. The government has attempted to facilitate rural entrepreneurship and skill development. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced various programs like Make in India and Standup India to make Bharat Atma Nirbhar. Another initiative called Start-Up Village Entrepreneurship Program was launched by the Finance Minister in 2014-15, where the rural people can start their own enterprises and upsurge the living standard and their purchasing power. Rural entrepreneurship corresponds to the establishment of business units in rural or remote areas. Rural entrepreneurship can be stipulated as “Entrepreneurship emerging at village level in multiple fields of an endeavor like business, industry, agriculture and can work as a potent factor for economic development”.

Rural entrepreneurship has produced new economic opportunities for women in the rural areas of the country. For these rural women, entrepreneurship is boosting their financial status and transforming and empowering them. Studies show that women entrepreneurs can very well run and grow their businesses using a well-structured approach. Studies also confirm that women entrepreneurs are exceptionally innovative, which plays a significant role in their success. For many researchers, happiness has come out as a critical outcome of entrepreneurship. People invariably look for “Happiness” when they judge the overall quality of their life. To upsurge the happiness in a society, one needs to recognize the factors influencing their happiness levels. Daniel Kahneman, the Nobel Prize winner for Economics in 2002, suggests that happiness is a subjective issue, but it is measurable through quantitative instruments.

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Sense of Happiness among Rural Women Entrepreneurs

Recently, a pilot study was conducted under the SVEP Scheme of  NRLM, MoRD, Government of India, to assess the happiness quotient among women entrepreneurs from rural areas of India. In contrast to available general studies on happiness, little is explored on the joy of rural women entrepreneurs in a developing country like India, where both gender equality and socio-economic independence of rural women are significant concerns. Results from a field study indicate that subjective factors that drive happiness in rural women entrepreneurs are autonomy, personal growth, self-acceptance, purpose in life, authenticity, relatedness, competence, and mastery.

Autonomy comes forth as a chief factor of happiness in women entrepreneurs.  It is the choice of doing the things a person selects to do and to work with people of one’s choice without any social and familial pressure. Autonomy also refers to the ability to tackle any situation. High independence in rural women entrepreneurs reveals their knowledge in choosing the business of their interest. Personal growth in women entrepreneurs determines the way of their development and how they respond to new situations. Women entrepreneurs have a feeling of continued development and hence are happy and satisfied. Self-acceptance is all about a positive attitude about own self. Women entrepreneurs with a positive attitude toward themselves can easily accept their good and bad qualities; hence, they are happy. High scores in purpose in life reflect their strong goal orientation towards life. A woman entrepreneur tends to have a purpose in her life, and she has a sense of directedness.  She feels that there is meaning to life. It also symbolizes humanity among them and a feeling of helping their friends and family. Authenticity builds their quality of being true to their selves. It is a sense of self-alienation that influences happiness.

The aspect of relatedness replicates the extent of the connectedness of a person. It is all about relationships and belonging to others and the community. Higher scores among the women entrepreneurs on competence revealed that they are proficient in whatever they do. They enjoy a sense of accomplishment. Mastery refers to expertise in controlling situations and everyday or overall life affairs and taking charge of the same. Its high score signifies that women entrepreneurs can tackle unforeseen challenges even if out of their skills. It also denotes the hold of a woman entrepreneur on her life. Entrepreneurship has provided women a meaning in their lives. The study had also found a positive relationship between women’s entrepreneurship, empowerment, and happiness in rural India. We suggest that entrepreneurship has to be promoted aggressively among rural women since it leads to economic growth and creates multidimensional empowerment among these women.

Prof. Piyush Sinha is the Chief Mentor, Prof. Rajesh Gupta is the Project Director, and Dr. Rooba Hasan is the Research Associate at the Start-up Village Entrepreneurship Program, Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India. Views expressed are the authors’ own.

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