Mastercard recently released the third edition of Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE) - an index focusing on female entrepreneurs’ ability to capitalize on opportunities granted through various supporting conditions within their local environments. India ranked 52nd (unchanged from the previous two years) amongst 58 countries studied, significantly behind the United States (1st) and China (6th). 

While India’s position in the index highlights the need for a further enabling environment for Indian women entrepreneurs, it also recognizes several silver linings for India. For instance, the Government has recently launched a 59‐minute loan platform that allows for easy access to credit for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME). Several such steps have helped the country register improvement in ‘Ease of Doing Business’ in India from 60.6 (rank 44) to 67.2 (rank 39) as well as an increase in ‘Women Financial Inclusion (F/M)’ from 58.2 (rank 51) to 69.0 (rank 43) on the World Bank “Doing Business Database, 2018”. 

This year’s  rankings reflect that women make better business inroads and have higher labor force participation rates in open and vibrant markets such as New Zealand (rank 2nd), Singapore (rank 8th) and Australia (rank 13th), where the support for SMEs and ease of doing business are high. Therefore, the report urges other countries to nurture similar conditions. 

The global Index is based on publicly available data from international organizations including the International Labor Organization, UNESCO and the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. It tracks the progress and achievement of women entrepreneurs and business owners in 58 societies (representing nearly 80% of the world’s female labor force) across three components: (i) Women’s Advancement Outcomes, (ii) Knowledge Assets & Financial Access, and (iii) Supporting Entrepreneurial Factors. 

Commenting on India’s position in the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs, Vikas Varma, Chief Operating Officer, South Asia, Mastercard, said, “Mastercard believes that women entrepreneurship and participation in the workforce is critical for inclusive growth of any society. In India, Mastercard has been working along with government organizations, industry bodies, and NGOs to provide tools and networks that help women entrepreneurs become a part of digital economy.

Over the years, these programs have brought a positive change to the lives of thousands of women entrepreneurs. Mastercard is certain that the global insights and learnings from MIWE will make the company’s ongoing programs more meaningful for women entrepreneurs in India."

MIWE suggests that the progress of women entrepreneurs has been held back by one or more obstacles in nearly all the 58 economies covered. These obstacles are largely caused by perceptions of gender bias, which contribute to poor social and cultural acceptance, lack of self-belief and access to financial funding or venture capital. Below is India’s performance on three components used for developing the index –


  • Women’s Advancement Outcomes
    India scores 28.7 with respect to Women’s Advancement Outcomes, i.e., degree of bias against women as workforce participants, political and business leaders, as well as the financial strength and entrepreneurial inclination of women.


  • Knowledge Assets and Financial Assets
    India scores 70.5 in terms of Knowledge Assets & Financial Access for women entrepreneurs hence providing much lower degree of access to basic financial services, advanced knowledge assets to women, and better support the small and medium enterprises.

  • Women Entrepreneurial Activity Rate:
    India’s score has witnessed a decline and is currently 58.6. This is due to an increase in men’s entrepreneurial activity rate from leading to a widening in gender gap. Despite this, India stands out for its high proportion of innovative entrepreneurs, with nearly half report they have innovative services or products.

In addition to highlighting the progress of women entrepreneurs on a global scale, Mastercard is committed to support the businesses owned by women around the world. In Asia Pacific, Mastercard is cultivating entrepreneurs through programs like Start Path and Fintech Express. Mastercard has supported a range of start-ups including RazorpayZetaToneTagFluid AIHappaySignzyftcash and Syntizen. The company has provided financial literacy training to nearly 200,000 women across India, Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam, and offers grants to women to grow their businesses through the Mastercard Impact Fund. 

Furthermore, the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth has helped to bring to life more than 750 financial inclusion programs across more than 80 countries to tackle income inequality challenges. In India, the Center has been working with Maharashtra based NGOs such as Mann Deshi and Industree foundation to support women entrepreneurs with access to digital tools, network, and knowledge to grow their business. Through the grant provided by the Center, Mann Deshi Foundation and Bank has created the first rural women Chamber of Commerce with three chapters to serve 10,000 business owners through knowledge transfer of business acumen skills, peer mentoring, access to financing and markets, and identification of supply chain linkages. The partnership with Industree Foundation has facilitated the adoption of digital payments among 100,000 women artisans across India. 

Download the Mastercard Index for Women Entrepreneurs 2019 white paper and infographic.


The Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs 2019 is the third report profiling the progress and achievement of women entrepreneurs/business owners across 58 societies around the world. With Angola as the newest market added to the Middle East & Africa region, the Index expands its attempt to track the factors that underpin the gender gap among business owners. Representing nearly 80% of the world’s female labor force, it highlights how the 58 markets differ at 3 levels: (i) Women’s Advancement Outcomes, (ii) Knowledge Assets & Financial Access, and (iii) Supporting Entrepreneurial Factors.  The results also shed light on which factors and conditions are the most conducive in helping to narrow the gender gap among female entrepreneurs/business owners, or the most inhibitive and disabling, thereby weighing on women’s ability to thrive in business.  

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