You are currently viewing Dr. Tulsi Jayakumar’s Perspective on Nurturing Women Entrepreneurs in Family Businesses

Dr. Tulsi Jayakumar’s Perspective on Nurturing Women Entrepreneurs in Family Businesses

BBF: How do you perceive the significance of platforms like Women in Leadership in fostering gender equality in leadership roles?

Dr. Tulsi: Well, I think having these platforms is very important because they basically get together women. You’ve got students and professionals together, and it’s a good platform for people to understand how they can grow and how that gap can be bridged. But I believe it has to be far more than just these platforms because many women probably need to hear these voices and narratives. It would be a good idea for the platform to think about how you can be more representative of those voices that are not present today.


BBF: Reflecting on your extensive academic journey, how have you witnessed the evolution of women’s roles in family businesses and entrepreneurship over the years?

So, I think the role of women in family businesses is slowly evolving. In fact, I was just reading some statistics showing that the number of women CEOs in family businesses is greater than in non-family businesses. Now, whether that is happy luck or serendipity, I’m not so sure. But yes, one does find a lot of resistance to women even coming into managerial roles, let alone CEO roles. So I believe that education is very important. And also women also need to understand that they have a certain identity and that needs to be nurtured at multiple levels by multiple stakeholders. But most importantly, by themselves. So, I see that women are coming forward as entrepreneurs. Within family businesses, there is this whole scope of entrepreneurship among women in business families, which requires a lot more nurturing. COVID has been a great teacher and people have started realising the importance of financial independence for women because otherwise, women would not even know what is credit and what is debit, let alone look at a balance sheet and a profit and loss report.


BBF: As an alumnus of the Delhi School of Economics, how has your educational background influenced your perspectives on gender dynamics in economics and entrepreneurship?

I would say that my education has made me. As a student of economics, you are taught to think logically, right? And so the perspective on whether it is as an academic or as someone who is looking at entrepreneurship, you come with a logical kind of a bend of mind. Beyond that, I think the kind of genre of economics that interested me even back then was ‘development economics’. And so those perspectives that one learned in college about gender, about inequity and inequality, is something which probably shaped me. I think it’s made me a person who is able to imbibe a lot of different things at one time and appreciate the kind of inequities that one has around. And in terms of entrepreneurship, it helps me to see where the opportunities lie. That’s it.


BBF: Your articles for various business publications often discuss economic trends. Could you share insights into the economic opportunities and challenges for women entrepreneurs in the current global landscape?

Well, if, for instance, I want to run a program for women entrepreneurs, which we are planning, we had one before COVID, but we are now looking at a different variant of it, which we are calling ‘Venus’. So we find that if we go out and ask for mentoring and other kinds of support from people who are in leadership positions, it is a lot easier to get this help for women entrepreneurs than just to look at entrepreneurs. So in that sense, I believe the trends are that people are looking at women in entrepreneurial roles as being very important going forward. In terms of the challenges, I think it is the same, which is about when a woman decides to take up an entrepreneurial role, how long is she going to continue with that? Why has she done it? What are the antecedents of her becoming an entrepreneur? Is it because there was something in the family she had to face, and so she had to take on this entrepreneurial role? And once that circumstance is over, will she have to go back to her role of becoming a housewife and a mother and so on? So I think those challenges, which have to do with some of these penalties of womanhood, continue. So, I think that’s what I see as a challenge.

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