International trade has traditionally played an essential role in driving women-centric economic empowerment. Women’s participation as owners or managers has remained consistently low over the years. In India's case, a previous study conducted by UNDP revealed that women entrepreneurs preferred engaging in informal cross-border business as it was less risky with no tax burdens and their discomfort in dealing with male customs officials (UNDP, 2016). One of the critical limitations of active business engagement is socio-economic and cultural restriction, especially at the grassroots level. The case in Arunachal Pradesh is no different, as the concept of entrepreneurship of women in this field is a relatively recent phenomenon. In Arunachal Pradesh, the market is mainly controlled by women, yet women's participation in small and medium enterprises is less in number. In this context, the current paper discusses the nature of women entrepreneurs’ role in Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and cross-border trade. It unveils the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in Arunachal Pradesh and along with industrial and policy-related bottlenecks. The discussion is based on the primary data collected from the women-led/managed/owned MSMEs to study the gender dimensions of trade in Arunachal Pradesh. The findings of the study are that women entrepreneurship primarily gravitates around smaller-sized firms, with most women-led enterprises accounting for micro-enterprises in the formal sector. Like elsewhere in Arunachal Pradesh too, there remain socio-economic and cultural restrictions, especially at the grassroots level. Women lag in terms of awareness about import and export, technology, and dedicated bank accounts.
Entrepreneurship, Gender, Trade, Arunachal Pradesh, India
Kaushalendra Pratap Singh
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