Resource Centre

Microenterprises in India: A Multidimensional Analysis

In partnership with Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University Authors: Amit Basole (APU), Vidya Chandy (GAME)

Micro-enterprises have been the engines of job growth in the majority of dynamic economies and they can perform the same role in India as well. Meeting their challenges requires significant policy changes and investments in local communities. MSME’s, and in particular very small enterprises, have been disadvantaged when it comes to availability of and access to data and analysis – vital in championing and creating a growth agenda around them.   The study looks at micro-enterprises that employ 0-19 workers, and analyses various dimensions such as geographical distribution, demographics, gender (employment and enterprise ownership), industrial distribution, labour productivity, and wages. It is based on Economic Census and National Sample Survey data.   Our aim in this report is to provide information and analysis that can assist policy-makers and the micro-entrepreneurial ecosystem at large to develop tools required to help this sector flourish.

 Download the full report here

Syngenta Foundation India Reports Advised by GAME

Under Syngenta Foundation India’s AE Enterprise Model, rural youth working as Agri-Entrepreneurs (AEs) run sustainable businesses promoting technology driven agriculture and thus bridging the technology transfer gap.

The studies (focussing on both men and women AEs) provide the characteristics of successful agri-entrepreneurs and present recommendations to enable them to grow and lead agriculture development for their community.

GAME has advised Syngenta Foundation India on these studies.

  •  Study on Women Agri-Entrepreneurs – to read, click here
  • Agri-Entrepreneur Cohort Study – to read, click here

Research 1: Study of Women AEs

The Study of Women AEs identified:

  1. characteristics of a successful woman AE including demographics such as education background, spouse’ education, land-holding, time spent on business versus home-care, size of household, investment, etc.
  2. adjustments to recruitment and training including confidence-building, spouse involvement, training duration, peer network, female trainers and class demographics, recruitment age.
  3. requirements for gender responsive loans to build resilience and risk-taking ability for higher investments

Self-confidence and risk-taking

  • Women are constrained by self-confidence – 93% reported a lack of confidence.
  • Aversion to debt and risk-taking – 87% women entrepreneurs have not taken a loan for their enterprises, whereas those with higher levels of investment demonstrated higher income growth.


  • Women who work their own lands are more likely to sign up as AEs
  • Sensitization and involvement of spouse/in-laws needed for recruitment (they are key decision-makers as reported by 67% women AEs)
  • Shorter duration residential training will incentivize more women to try agri-entrepreneurship
  • Women AEs over 40 were seen to perform well, and better than their male counterparts in the same age bracket


  • > 93% women agreed that female trainers and presence of other females in the class, will be more effective and helpful for women to understand and participate in trainings
  • Post-training cohort support group / forum for peer networking needs to be set up – in contrast, male AEs are initiating and leveraging networking
  • Specialized trainings in confidence building and business operations are required for the women AE and her spouse respectively (women AEs are assisted in their businesses by their spouses)


Education levels do not correlate to participation and performance of women AEs as much as they do for male AEs. Training by government and NGOs are helping women, with lower levels of education, succeed as AEs. Spouse’s education plays a role in their success as well.


Women providing Input, Nursery Management and Market Linkage services are most likely to see an increase in their income. This can also be supported by other services such as Financial Services and Farm Machinery Rental Services. Market Linkage, Goatery, Veterinary services will also serve as a good combination of services in locations where animal husbandry is a prominent source of income.

Dividing responsibilities between home and business:

  • Over 60% of the women AEs spent 6 hours daily on business operations and 8 hours on childcare.
  • Over 60% AEs were in 3-4 member households, therefore access to quality child care can offer a source of support.

Research 2 – Agri-Entrepreneur Cohort Study

  • 64% of AEs were good performers, largely due to close mentoring, selection criteria, specialized training and business operationalization.
  • 46% of the AEs in the most successful performance group were graduates, showing strong correlation between education and performance in the largely male-dominated group. Age and previous work-experience of the AE were other key independent factors impacting AE performance.
  • An asset-light model is proving successful – 76% of the most successful performance group used seed money to invest in raw material instead of fixed assets, bringing in revenue in the first months to sustain their business.
  • Initial business planning is a critical aspect for sustainability, ~75% of the well-performing AEs (~76%) achieved a turn-over in the 1st three months.
  • Mentorship is key, and needs to support service-diversification for the AEs, beyond the current focus on agri inputs.
  • To create a systemic change, the existing ecosystem of public and private must be leveraged, eg SRLMs and IIEs can be valuable partners. Collaboration with private players on market access expertise can help assist AEs stabilise their businesses and reduce time-to-market

To read more, visit the Syngenta Foundation website.



A study on Women Homepreneurs in Pune

Women in India own and run far fewer businesses than in other countries.

In addition, the female labour force participation rate in India is now amongst the lowest in the world, having slipped dramatically in the last 20 years to ~23% in 2018 as per World Bank data, with urban areas being lower that rural.

Socio-cultural pressures and home care duties have resulted in a significant proportion of young women being out of the labour force, yet they are well positioned to spend a part of their day on a home-based nano-enterprise. These enterprises can flourish when women have recourse to the right support and interventions.

GAME, in collaboration with ZS Associates India Pvt. Ltd. as the knowledge partner, undertook a targeted study on urban women homepreneurs, in order to get a better understanding of the segment, and to inform collaboration and solutioning to help drive business growth.

We probed 3 areas in particular

a) What was the Motivation behind starting the business

b) What challenges did they face

c) What is the support sought.

Download the report here

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