Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus has said empowering women by turning them into entrepreneurs is key to the overall development of society and the focus of any government should be on creating entrepreneurs, not job seekers. Yunus was speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the Bodoland Knowledge Festival in Kokrajhar, the administrative headquarters of the Bodoland Autonomous Region of Assam. He was invited as the chief guest at the festival which took place from February 27 to March 2. Yunus said: "We just do not give a chance to people to become entrepreneurs. We push them to become job-seeker instead." "Grameen Bank's initiatives could bring a change in Bangladesh by turning women into entrepreneurs. "If 10 million women (borrowers of Grameen Bank) could become entrepreneurs, then we can easily conclude anybody can become an entrepreneur." The festival focused on implementing Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2030 in Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) and the world at large. Issues discussed included science and technology, indigenous knowledge systems, women empowerment, child rights and protection, peace-building and good governance, and the role of BTR. More than 300 delegates from across India, and 35 from 14 countries participated in the festival. Besides addressing the festival, Yunus spoke at Bodoland College and Bodoland University. He spoke to the students and teachers at Rangiya College and Guwahati University. He had an intensive exchange of thoughts on education with the vice-chancellors of 10 universities in Assam in a special session on the sideline of the Bodoland Knowledge Festival. BTR was created through a peace treaty in 2020 after almost 30 years of underground armed struggle by Bodos of Assam demanding a separate state for them. Many people gave their lives in the struggle. Under the peace treaty, an autonomous Bodoland territorial region was created under the leadership of Promod Boro who became the first chief executive of the autonomous Bodo territory to ensure autonomy for the Bodo people. Knowledge Festival was the first international event organised by the Bodoland Territorial Council to get connected with the bigger world to find ideas to bring changes to Bodo people.
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi has said he is confident that bank loans given to women entrepreneurs are repaid in 99 percent cases. “They don’t run away with the money like the others, at least,” he said. The commerce minister said this while speaking as the chief guest at an event on the occasion of International Women's Entrepreneurship Day and 5th founding anniversary of Women Entrepreneurs Network for Development Association (WEND) at Gulshan Shooting Club Auditorium on Saturday (November 19) night. Tipu Munshi said, “We should support our women entrepreneurs. The path for women will not be easy. But they must go forward with courage.” Read: Sugar prices to be stable soon, says Commerce Minister "We will take initiative to ensure market access for women entrepreneurs," Munshi said. Jasim Uddin, President of FBCCI, said that women entrepreneurs face obstacles in getting loans. FBCCI is negotiating with Bangladesh Bank so that they can get loans easily. "We have opened a wing on behalf of FBCCI to provide business support to new entrepreneurs. All information can be found in that wing. We focus on innovation and creating new designs for women entrepreneurs," he added. European Union Ambassador in Dhaka, Charles Whiteley, said that it is necessary to ensure that women can easily get bank loans to do business. "I recently visited Chattogram and Rangamati. Many women there said they have business ideas," he said. But they do not own any land. So they are not able to use the land as collateral, and as a result, they are not getting loans, he added. WEND President Dr. Nadia Binte Amin, USAID Feed the Future Bangladesh Trade Activity Chief Mark Shaiman, Export Readiness Fund (ERF) Program Team Leader Dave Runganaikaloo, also spoke at the function. Read: Target $100 bn export earnings by 2026: Commerce Minister At the event, WEND presented the 'Special Women's Empowerment Award' to Bangladesh Export Development Bureau (EPB) for taking important steps in empowering women entrepreneurs. Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi handed over the award to EPB Vice Chairman AH Ahsan.
The Innovation Design and Entrepreneurship Academy (iDEA) Project of Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC) under the ICT Division Sunday distributed a Tk1.25 crore grant to 250 women entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurs received a one-time grant of Tk50,000 each at the 92nd birth anniversary programme of Bangamata Begum Fazilatun Nesa Mujib in Dhaka. ICT State Minister Zunaid Ahmed Palak handed over the cheques to the women entrepreneurs. The IDEA project undertook the initiative to provide grants to startups, small and medium enterprises, and entrepreneurs, especially women entrepreneurs, to develop, encourage and accelerate their businesses. Read: 80% of travel market remains unexplored: Palak Palak said: "The failure rate of women entrepreneurs is lower than men. Our mothers and daughters are thrifty. I think the grant given to these entrepreneurs will not go to waste." "This is not the end; every year on August 8, 1000 Bengali entrepreneurs get grants. The ICT Division will do its best to provide training, co-working space and seed money to women entrepreneurs to create 50 percent women entrepreneurs by 2041."
Bangladesh’s first-ever social media prepaid card was launched on Wednesday, aimed at encouraging women to start Facebook-centric businesses. MasterCard, Mutual Trust Bank, and e-Courier have jointly launched the prepaid card at an event in the capital. The card is designed specifically for women entrepreneurs so that they can benefit from Facebook-centric businesses. READ: Contactless payment service to be available for debit, prepaid card users: BB The card has a dual currency facility for entrepreneurs to use their Facebook page without any third-party payment assistance. The e-courier will transfer funds directly to the client's prepaid card, so women entrepreneurs do not have to go to the e-courier to collect cash in person. This card includes special discounts on e-commerce portals, jewelry shops, groceries, and clothing stores, specially designed for cardholders. Read BYLC Ventures opens applications for the 5th cohort Cardholders will have a dual currency transaction facility at more than 5,000 outlets in Bangladesh, Bogo (buy-one-get-one) at hotel locations, dining and lifestyle offer an easy subscription on streaming platforms (Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.), MTB Green Pin services, SMS banking, POS services, ATM and QR-code transaction facilities. Biplob Ghosh Rahul, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of e-Courier, said, “E-Courier is pleased to launch for the first time a co-branded prepaid card for women entrepreneurs in a joint venture with MasterCard and Mutual Trust Bank. E-Courier is the first private logistics and courier brand in Bangladesh, which has been supporting women entrepreneurs and their endeavours through sophisticated and specialized logistics solutions for the past eight years. Read Sonia Bashir, 2 other Bangladeshis among 100 Global Tech's Changemakers Syed Mohammad Kamal, country manager, MasterCard Bangladesh, said, “The pandemic has had a significant impact on consumer spending growth on e-commerce channels like Facebook.” The women entrepreneurs are contributing to the F-Commerce sector in Bangladesh that is why this card was introduced, he said. Syed Mahbubur Rahman, MD & CEO, Mutual Trust Bank (MTB), said, “MTB has always played a leading role in implementing innovative payment solutions. Read BUILD's initiative to harmonise terminology around women entrepreneurs “Introducing co-branded prepaid cards jointly will ensure various financial benefits. This will further facilitate the expansion of trade and commerce in Bangladesh's growing F-commerce sector,” he added.
The association of jewellery traders, Bangladesh Jewellery Samity, or BAJUS, has honoured three of the leading women entrepreneurs in recognition of their contribution to the jewellery industry, on the occasion of International Women's Day, 2022. In its first such initiative, BAJUS recognised Kazi Nazneen Islam Nipa, co-founder of Amin Jewelers, Krishna Karmakar, co-founder of Bangladesh Pearl House, and Tahmina Enayet, co-founder of Pearls Paradise. Read:Jewelry sector holds potentials to grow in Bangladesh: BAJUS leaders The women's award was presented at a colourful function held at the BAJUS office of Bashundhara City Shopping Complex in the capital on Sunday. Its president Sayem Sobhan Anvir was the chief guest on the occasion. Anvir's wife Sabrina, Director at Bashundhara Group, was there as the special guest. Farida Hossain, chairperson of BAJUS Standing Committee on Women's Affairs, presided over the function. The keynote address was delivered by Sultana Razia and Tasnim Naz, members of BAJUS Standing Committee on Women's Affairs.
Business loans provide entrepreneurs and startup founders the much-needed capital for expanding their operations. But lower cost of borrowing is what matters the most to them. To spruce up credit demand and encourage more women to begin their own venture, Bangladesh Bank (BB) is now wooing the female entrepreneurs of the country with lower interest rates. As the biggest step, the central bank has reduced the interest rate from 7 to 5% in line with its ambitious target of disbursing at least 15% of the loan amount earmarked for the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to women entrepreneurs by 2024. Read Some Inspiring Women Entrepreneurs in Bangladesh in Diverse Sectors At the same time, the central bank has reduced the interest rate from 3 to 0.5% at the institutional level as an incentive to banks and financial institutions for providing loans to women entrepreneurs.
Speakers at a webinar on Thursday called for focusing support to SMEs, particularly women entrepreneurs, as they are struggling to survive. Women-led enterprises in Bangladesh have long faced policy hurdles in accessing finance from formal channels. Financial institutions are also reluctant to provide loans to women entrepreneurs, including under government announced stimulus packages, they said. Just 5.6 percent of recipients of the government- announced Tk 200 billion stimulus package for the small- to medium-sized enterprises (SME) are women, and they are mostly urban-based, they added. Amid all the challenges faced by female entrepreneurs, the topic of gender inclusion has gained momentum among the investor circle. Read: BGMEA seeks Russian support for RMG exports Apart from providing capital to women entrepreneurs, it is also essential to acknowledge that additional support to build women networks and create opportunities for women to rise to leadership positions through organizational policies are also essential tools to promote women’s economic participation. The SME sector contributes 20-25 percent to Bangladesh’s GDP. If female entrepreneurs get necessary support, then the sector’s contribution to GDP would increase, they observed. Addressing in the webinar titled ‘Gender inclusion through investing’, they insisted on improving women’s access to finance and to adopt a gender-lens approach throughout the investment lifecycle, including the origination and selection process. A panel of investors, entrepreneurs, lawyers and intermediaries joined the discussion to share their unique experiences and perspectives for the audiences to better understand how impact can be amplified to improve gender inclusion through investments. Sylvana Q. Sinha, Founder, Chair, & CEO at Praava Health; Anita Ghazi Rahman, Founder and Managing Partner at The Legal Circle; and Bijon Islam, Co-Founder and CEO at LightCastle Partners; discussed about the potential of gender inclusion through impact investing in Bangladesh. Nirjhor Rahman, CEO of Bangladesh Angels, shared the latest update from the Bangladesh Women Angels Network chapter, which is going to be launched soon. Read: Investment proposals grow 46.33 pc in July-September 2021: BIDA The session was moderated by Maxime Cheng, Lead Market and Capacity Building Program at Roots of Impact. B-Briddhi is a multi-year partnership between the Embassy of Switzerland in Bangladesh, Roots of Impact, LightCastle Partners, and other stakeholders including investors, private sector organisations, incubators, and support organisations for impact enterprises.
Laalsobuj.com, an online marketplace driven by rural women under patron of the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, has signed an agreement with homegrown tech based logistic company Paperfly to make it their delivery partner. Laalsobuj.com Chairman- Sadruddin Imran and Paperfly Chief Marketing Officer and cofounder Rahath Ahmed signed the agreement recently regarding the service partnership, said a media release on Sunday. According to the agreement, Paperfly will deliver the product of laalsobuj.com at buyers’ doorsteps leveraging its strongest doorstep delivery network across Bangladesh. READ: Paperfly to deliver authentic beauty products of Shajgoj all over Bangladesh From Laalsobuj.com, Director- Rubaiyat Bin Arif, Chief Operating Officer (COO) - Mohammad Nazmul Ahsan, Sr. Software Executive- Md Mahmudul Hasan Khan and from Paperfly, General Manager, Sales and Key Accounts- Sazzadul Islam Fahmy and Executive, Sales and Key and Accounts- Afsana Yasmin were present among others during the signing ceremony. Regarding the partnership with Laalsobuj, Paperfly Chief Marketing Officer Rahath Ahmed said this online market place is driven by the rural women who have a great objective in social empowerment and Paperfly is proud to be part of this. Chairman, Sadruddin Imran said the objective of laalsobuj.com is to make a significant contribution to the economic emancipation of women by bringing the products of millions of women entrepreneurs across the country to the digital buyers through e-commerce and thus empower rural women. Read Truck Lagbe: Story of a Successful Digital Trucking Startup in Bangladesh This marketplace is dedicated for rural women entrepreneurs under TotthoApa project implemented by ‘Jatiyo Mohila Sangstha’ under the ministry. Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute under Ministry of Commerce provides technical support to the ecommerce platform. With the help of 1,470 dedicated TotthoApas (women who provide information services), these entrepreneurs scattered in remote areas of Bangladesh are showcasing their products in the marketplace. READ: Paperfly celebrates 5-year of excellence Since commencing market launching in early 2016, Paperfly came into limelight by introducing doorstep delivery, competitive price, best in class customer service and services like 1 hour merchant payment, Smart Return, Smart Check and much more. The robust network of Paperfly is capable of delivering any size of products or shipments anywhere in Bangladesh, said a press release.
Whether it is the social structure or lack of proper importance to female empowerment, women in Bangladesh were always on the back foot when it came to education, job or business. This has been the case for centuries without much change. However, the scenario is changing. Due to widespread incentives and facilitations women, today are now getting access to proper education. The government of Bangladesh is also championing gender balance in the workplace. Defying all the odds set against women, there are a few who stood against the patriarchy and established themselves as successful women. Let's take a look at some of the admired women entrepreneurs of Bangladesh and what made them what they are today. Some Successful Bangladeshi Women Entrepreneurs Bibi Russel The contribution of Bibi Russell to the fashion industry of Bangladesh is undeniable. One of the pioneering figures in the fashion and ethnic culture of Bangladesh, Bibi Russell was born in 1950 and completed her higher education at London College of Fashion. She organized several fashion shows in Paris and Spain and has been the face of many leading fashion brands of the world in the late 70s. Bibi Russell came back to Bangladesh in the late 90s and has since started her entrepreneurial venture, the Bibi Russell Production House. The distinct design element of her line incorporation elements of Bengali and Ethnic culture gave her products a unique position in the Bengali fashion landscape. Today her fashion house employs over 35000 rural artisans. Bibi Russell is a glaring example for the women who want to venture into the world of fashion designing. Read: Graphic Designer Salaries: How Much Can You Earn from Graphic Design? Ivy Haque Russell There is an acute lack of female health-related service in Bangladesh. Ivy Haque Russell, a former investment banker felt there should be changes to the current state and hence founded the Maya Limited in 2017. Maya limited is an online platform that provides females with all types of services and help. Initially, Ivy Haque started working with the healthy development of pregnant women. The idea was to enlighten them on self-care and seeking medical counsel when necessary. With its success, Maya has ventured into other health services as well as legal aides. Anyone can check their app or website to access information as well as seek legal help by keeping their identity hidden. The contribution of Maya has added to the stride of women empowerment in Bangladesh and it's a commendable step towards the right direction. Read Best Credit Cards in Bangladesh: A Comparative Analysis Rubaba Dowla Rubaba Dowla is an exemplary figure in the corporate world of Bangladesh. Graduating from Stockholm University in Economics, she entered into the corporate world in 1998 as a marketing executive in Grameenphone. In a career expanding over 23 years, Rubaba Dowla has redefined what it means to strive for excellence and that women are no less compared to men in the corporate world. Rubaba is the founder of Pulse Healthcare Service and has also been acting as the country manager of Oracle. Her startup aims to ensure healthcare service for all through their medical center as well as an online platform. The organization has gained popularity under the able leadership of Rubaba. Read: Online Business: How to Get Started from Home? Taslima Miji In the social fabric of Bangladesh which somehow shares a negative impression towards female entrepreneurship, the successful and striving female entrepreneurs are breaking the long-held stereotypes. And among them, the story of Taslima Miji is even more inspiring. Taslima Miji is the founder of Techmania. A company that provides computer-related hardware solutions for organizations. From repairing to assembling, the range of service offered by Techmania is diverse. Taslima Miji completed her higher studies at the University of Dhaka. Although hailing from a family of businessmen, she decided not to get into the family business line. Rather Miji started her entrepreneurial venture with tech, completely unrelated to her family business line. Over time, Miji was able to establish Techmania as a leading tech solution for a range of organizations and corporations. Read Small Business Ideas for F-commerce Startups in Bangladesh during Pandemic Selima Ahmed The path towards female entrepreneurship is still growing. Though it is yet to be on par with male entrepreneurship, the development that has been done to this point in this sector for women can be largely attributed to the Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry or BWCCI. Selima Ahmed is the founder of BWCCI. In her long and illustrious career of entrepreneurship in the private sector. In her early days of entrepreneurship, Selima Ahmed understood that the situation was not favorable for women entrepreneurs at all. Through her struggle to establish her ventures, she also focused to make the situation better for others. Over the years, BWCCI has helped countless women to kickstart their entrepreneurial ventures and provide any form of support necessary. For her service to the industry, Selima Ahmed was awarded the Islamic Development Bank prize in 2012. Read Top Insurance Companies in Bangladesh in 2021 Sabrina Islam Just like Selima Ahmed, Sabrina Islam is also a shining example of women empowerment in Bangladesh. After completing her education in law from the University of Dhaka, Sabrina Islam decided to start her own business in the mid-70s. it was during a time where women's entrepreneurship was practically unheard of. Sabrina Islam faced many challenges to establish her ventures and simultaneously felt the need for mentorship to the aspiring female entrepreneurs. Over four decades, Sabrina Islam paved the way for many female entrepreneurs and as an acknowledgment of her service, she received the Daily Star award for Most Outstanding Woman in Business in 2008. Currently, she is heading the Women's Entrepreneurship Association and acting as a managing director of a leading garments factory. Read: Ways of Affiliate Marketing while Staying in Bangladesh Salina Qadar Salina Qadar is another pioneering figure in female entrepreneurship in Bangladesh. she started her first venture, Agriconcern back in 1985. This was a time when Bangladesh was having a tumultuous political situation and it was harming the agricultural sector. She observed that there was practically no form of incentivization of export of potato, even though it grows in abundance in Bangladesh. Over the next decade, Salina Qadar facilitated the export of over 12000 metric tons of potato. For her achievement and service in the agricultural sector, she was recognized for her work by the Daily Star in 2004. Bottom Line The state of women's entrepreneurship in Bangladesh is still growing. In addition to government incentives, various private firms are also providing support for up-and-coming aspiring entrepreneurs. The accomplished female entrepreneurs can act as an inspiration for many. They stand to prove that no matter what the odds maybe if you have conviction, you will succeed. Read Legendary Women in Bangladesh with Pioneering Contribution in Diverse Fields
The country's female entrepreneurs in the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are getting less than 4% of the loan disbursed to the sector.