New Delhi, Apr 5 (PTI) President Ram Nath Kovind today said it was regrettable that women have not been given their due in the business arena, and asked India Inc to take determined steps towards creating gender-sensitive supply chains.

Delivering the keynote address at the annual session of FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) here, the President said that women constitute half our country. They contribute to our economy at work and at home, in many diverse ways. Yet, when it comes to business, it is regrettable that they have not been given their due.

Author-entrepreneur Twinkle Khanna, producer Ekta Kapoor and scientist Tessy Thomas are among the nine extraordinary women achievers who received the FLO Icon award at a function graced by the President here.

“We need to create conditions for more and more of our daughters and sisters to come into the workforce. We need to push harder to ensure appropriate, encouraging and safe conditions at home, in society and at the work-place to enhance the percentage of working women,” Kovind said.

He stated that the corporate sector must take determined steps towards creating women-friendly and gender-sensitive supply chains to empower women in our economy, rather than just accommodate them.

The President said that if more women become part of the workforce, both household incomes and our GDP will rise. We will become a more prosperous nation. Much greater than that, we will become a more equal society, he said.

He stressed that we need to take the magic of entrepreneurship to (and facilitate the start-ups of) our sisters and daughters at the bottom of the pyramid.

The President said that the government has taken decisive steps to promote a culture of enterprise among ordinary citizens, especially women. The Stand-Up India initiative was launched in April 2016 to encourage entrepreneurship among women, SCs and STs. About 45,000 loans have been disbursed, mainly to sole proprietors.

“Almost 39,000 of these have gone to women an overwhelming proportion. Under the MUDRA scheme, over the past three financial years, about 117 million loans have been sanctioned,” Kovind said.

Close to 88 million of these loans have gone to women entrepreneurs and he was happy to note that, as of December 2017, the number of NPAs in the MUDRA scheme is less than eight per cent of the loans sanctioned.

The President urged the members of FLO to see how they can make these businesses largely run by women integral to their value chains. How they can partner these start-ups as vendors, ancillaries, suppliers, distributors or in any other form.

The President said that this is a moment of enormous opportunities for India. If our institutions and our society can be true to both the letter of the law and the spirit of justice, we can help every Indian realise her potential. And we can construct a developed India.

“There may be disagreement, but there must be respect for the other person’s dignity. Dignity and civility; order and rule of law; fairness and justice; entrepreneurship and aspirations we have to achieve all of these. We cannot pick and choose,” Kovind said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.