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Women entrepreneurs’ path to building venture success: lessons from India

Tanvi Kothari (School of Global Innovation and Leadership, San Jose State University, San Jose, California, USA)

South Asian Journal of Business Studies

ISSN: 2398-628X

Article publication date: 5 June 2017




The purpose of this paper is to identify the factors that motivate women in India to become self-employed. Further, it demonstrates a systematic application of grounded theory to understand how women entrepreneurs build their ventures’ success in India.


The paper throws light on the key tenets of grounded theory research and explains its use as a rigorous method for entrepreneurship research. Data were collected through 25 in-depth case studies of women entrepreneurs from diverse geographical, social, economical and industrial sectors in one of the world’s fastest growing emerging markets, namely, India.


The results of this inductive approach suggest that women-owned ventures’ path to building success is on one hand, based on their ability to recognize opportunities despite their non-business social network enhanced by their innovation capabilities. On the other hand, it is also based on their ability to find some market niches, i.e., entering into markets untapped by traditional men-owned small businesses. The author concludes that the women entrepreneurs’ paths to building competitive advantage in emerging markets manifests a number of features that are distinct from those of the women-owned businesses from developed countries. This study provides a holistic understanding of women entrepreneurs in emerging markets, an under-researched phenomenon by providing a framework to understand how they build their ventures’ success in a competitive environment.

Research limitations/implications

This paper is intended as a critical review of the factors influencing women entrepreneurship in India, thus the inductively developed framework is not tested.

Practical implications

The main message of the paper is that women entrepreneur’s ability to (simultaneously) sell products or offer solutions to niche segments (demand side) and capabilities to optimize resources by being innovative (supply side) facilitates their path to build success for their ventures. The findings of this study provide guidelines for policy makers in emerging markets to incorporate policies such that will enhance women’s entrepreneurship despite the social constraints faced by these women. The author demonstrates that women’s involvement in developing their businesses provides job opportunities and ensures that women are taking an active part in the development of the national economy.


This study fulfills the need to explore entrepreneurship by women, in emerging economies like India. Moreover, it is probably one of the first few studies in the literature that uses empirical evidence from a variety of settings to identify factors that motivate women in India to become self-employed and provides a dynamic framework on how women-owned ventures succeed.



The author would like to thank the various conference reviewers for their helpful comments and feedback on an earlier draft of this manuscript. The author would also like to acknowledge the institutional and grant support provided by the Lucas College of Business and San Jose State University in collecting the data for this manuscript.


Kothari, T. (2017), "Women entrepreneurs’ path to building venture success: lessons from India", South Asian Journal of Business Studies, Vol. 6 No. 2, pp. 118-141.



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