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Women empowerment through entrepreneurship: case study of a social entrepreneurial intervention in rural India

Anirudh Agrawal (Business School, OP Jindal Global University Sonipat, Haryana, India)
Poonam Gandhi (FLAME University Pune, Maharastra, India)
Prajakta Khare (Meiji Gakuin University Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan)

International Journal of Organizational Analysis

ISSN: 1934-8835

Article publication date: 27 September 2021

Issue publication date: 26 May 2023




The purpose of this study is to explore how social entrepreneurship empowers women and how it influences the existing gender based intersectionalities in the society. This paper is based on a single case study of a social entrepreneurial startup called “Pahal,” which used social entrepreneurial strategies to encourage women to engage in economic activities, which helped them in gaining economic empowerment.


The researcher alongside the social entrepreneur visited the field for eight months from August 2016 to March 2017 and interviewed multiple stakeholder-employees (as partners) of the social enterprise. This study was done by conducting interviews with all the stakeholders in all the three social entrepreneurial phases, i.e. pre-Pahal, during-Pahal and after-Pahal. The interviews and observations were recorded and analysed using social entrepreneurial lens and intersectionality.


“Pahal Initiative” – is a social entrepreneurial intervention that helped the women in the household to start a food delivery business with the support of the social entrepreneur. Consequently, women gained confidence and self-respect. The attitude of men in the household changed when the women in the household generated additional income. It impacted their position and status which led to an increase in their participation in decision-making in the household and economic independence. The women become more interactive and expressive in a predominantly patriarchal household. Within one year, the entrepreneur had to stop the Pahal initiative. Then, this study observed and recorded that this event curtailed the economic activities undertaken by the women in their village and their social status reverted to what it was before the initiative.

Practical implications

First, social entrepreneurial strategies lead to economic value creation and lead overall socio-economic gains. Second, social entrepreneurial strategies address the problems of patriarchy and gender discrimination. Third, economic activities undertaken by women changed the social perceptions of the family members towards women in the families.

Social implications

From this case study, one observes that social entrepreneurship has a strong potential to bring about social and economic change. This study helps policymakers and non-governmental organisations to solve poverty and gender discrimination related problems using social entrepreneurial strategies.


This study uses social entrepreneurial intervention to understand and bring about change in the socio-economic status of women in rural India. This study uses an intersectionality lens to make sense of the data, reality and reflects on how intersectional positions are altered when women are economically empowered either through training or through a proper organisation or both.



The authors would like to acknowledge the work of the social entrepreneur who started project Pahal and who willingly shared the data with our research team.


Agrawal, A., Gandhi, P. and Khare, P. (2023), "Women empowerment through entrepreneurship: case study of a social entrepreneurial intervention in rural India", International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. 31 No. 4, pp. 1122-1142.



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