Like most other developing countries, women entrepreneurship is a rising and certainly familiar phenomenon in Bangladesh. Women entrepreneurship is significant for a country not simply to secure gender equality but also to enhance the economy.
Bangladesh has attained an exceptional accomplishment in establishing women empowerment through entrepreneurship and employment from 2008 to 2018 and turned into a role model for other developing countries.
The success story of some women entrepreneurs:
Starting own business facing all the obstacles and challenges is never too easy for women. But there are some women in our country who have shown that the spirit to do something exceptional is the prime necessity to get success.
Bibi Russell is the pioneer for women in the fashion industry and established “Bibi Production”, a fashion house in Bangladesh. With her talented works, her fashion house has grown into a world-renowned fashion house with the motto “fashion for Development”. She drives the women to revitalize their ambition through the craftwork.
With the vision to resolve the lifestyle of Bangladeshi women, Ivy Huq Russell has founded Maya. The prime purpose of Maya is to offer women access to every necessary information and share a community where they can share their issues, views and therefore can facilitate each other.
Having 16 years of experience in corporate life, Rubaba Dowla has established the Pulse Healthcare Service, which is the very first virtual telemedicine platform in Bangladesh.
Apart from that, Selina Qader, the founder of Agriconcern; Samira Zuberi Himika, the founder of team engine; Taslima Miji, founder of Techmania are some of the stars glowing in the field of entrepreneurship. Thousand more mentions in the list of successful entrepreneurs who have already proved their competence and become great examples to inspire others.
The obstacles yet to overcome
Although the number of women participating in economic activities is growing in our country, they generally run small informal businesses. They don’t get the proper assistance to develop into a merchant or expanding their business to the next stage mainly because women are socially and economically lagging in our society.
Illiteracy is one of the leading handicaps in this case. Even if the women, especially in the rural area, have the potential and capability to do something on their own, that seems to be insurmountable for them because of appropriate knowledge and information.
Even if women are enough competent and sensible, the opportunities and incentives are not favourable to them. Especially, the lack of capital support is one of the biggest concerns over here. 48 percent of women entrepreneurs do not have independent access to collateral, which makes securing a business loan a bigger hurdle than for men (IFC study). Being a men dominant society, for financial support, most women have to rely on the male partners and members of their family who are not consistently supportive.
Also, rigorous and superstitious social norms hinder women to step into entrepreneurship. The perception of society regarding women’s competence is still narrow, and in every step of the business, women face the challenge to prove themselves. Besides, administrative barriers and fear of harassment are some main barriers that demotivate women to stick to their initiatives.
Facilitation to accelerate the women entrepreneurship
Women entrepreneurs mainly need policy support and better financial backup, which will contribute to the evolution of entrepreneurship in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh Bank introduced “Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Credit Policies and Programmes” which provides special arrangements for women entrepreneurs, so that, a significant portion of credit funding goes to them.
Government has worked out some policies to promote the women enterprises in Bangladesh including “Gender Action Plan (GAP)” by the Small & Medium Enterprise (SME) Foundation, which helps the women engaging in SMEs by building up their managerial and technical capacity and ability to access credit.
Furthermore, promotion of equity for women and men, recognition of women entrepreneurs, establishing women’s easy access to markets, guidance and training for entrepreneurs, supporting services for financial and credit institutions and promoting of product development at home and global market, etc are some programs government has taken for them.
Many associations of women entrepreneurs have been developed. For example, Women Entrepreneur Association of Bangladesh (WEAB) helps women entrepreneurs by providing all the support, training, and information they need to establish themselves as successful entrepreneurs.
Bangladesh Federation of Women entrepreneurs is another organisation that offers a wide range of benefits and networking opportunities for women. It encourages women to support and share information and promotes the growth of women enterprises in Bangladesh. All those organizations should collaborate to have a firm voice. All of them can surely ensure a constant rise of women participation in entrepreneurship.
Esrat Sultana Esha