The current schemes for the development of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) by the central government have significant gender disparity, which is leading to severe disadvantages for women entrepreneurs, said Shashi Singh, Chairperson of the Consortium of Women Entrepreneurs of India (CWEI). Singh is also a reputed member of the National Board at the Ministry of MSME, as well as a member of the United Nations Environment Assembly.She also noted that there is no dedicated central government scheme for existing women-led or women-owned MSMEs at the growth stage, which is why they dont have access to collateral-free capital to invest in and expand their businesses. While the Stand-Up India scheme, launched in 2016, does focus on women entrepreneurs, it only assists women looking to set up a business from scratch instead of helping existing women entrepreneurs as well. Moreover, this scheme is dedicated to women entrepreneurs emerging from the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. Women entrepreneurs in India have been resilient in growing their businesses without much government support, she said during an interview, There is no special scheme helping women stand on their own feet, especially after COVID.Her key suggestion at this point is for the government to analyse why women entrepreneurs are unable to benefit from the existing schemes, while the banks must reduce interest rates on loans to boost lending to women entrepreneurs. At least during the post-COVID period, banks should reduce their interest rates so that more women can come forward and churn out significant profits in business in order to repay banks, she said. If there isnt enough profit, how will they repay banks? Thats (low credit access to women entrepreneurs) the reason women in small industries are not growing at the level we would like them to.Singh also asks that the government should set up a separate department to assist micro businesses, as 90 per cent of women entrepreneurs belong to this segment. Another suggestion is to help women entrepreneurs create clusters based on common factors so that they can cohesively ask for better opportunities for finance and sales.*Image used for representative purpose.