Monowara, a housewife from Rangamati, had a dream to be a self-dependent woman and started her venture with a small poultry business. But due to lack of technical knowledge, she could not sustain it for a long time. But she was not to give up her dream. She started again in 2000 with handloom factory in one portion of her house and also a Boutique shop in the city. But again her little business knowledge went against her dream.
Monowara heard about Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BWCCI) from a friend and became a member of BWCCI. Then she started participating in the chamber activities in her division actively. With the eagerness to learn, she grasped every opportunity from the chamber to participate in capacity development training. She also took part in different workshops organized by the Chamber where she heard and learned about different issues faced by women entrepreneurs like her and how they dealt with those issues.
At the beginning of her journey, Monowara used to take loans from NGOs with high interest. She learned from the Chamber that Women entrepreneurs are entitled to have SME loans from banks. She started applying in different banks. No bank officials were ready to give her loan for her business. During a time like this, hearing about Monowara’s struggle two officials from the Chamber Secretariat took her to different banks and talked with bank officials about Bangladesh Bank’s refinancing scheme. The result was positive. Monowara got her first loan of Taka 3 lac which she invested in her shop. She made a regular repayment of her first loan and again took another 5 lac taka to expand her business. She was inspired again to go with her dream and she is determined to reach the zenith of success being an entrepreneur.
Like Monowara more women dream to be self- dependent as an entrepreneur in our country and face many challenges. Because entrepreneurship was once considered a man’s domain and woman’s activities were limited to the yard of the house. Though this situation is changing, women face a lot of problems on their way to be an entrepreneur.
So, first I am going to point out some of these key challenges they often faced and then various supportive services provided by the government and non-government organizations for women entrepreneurs.
a) Inadequate capital
b) Permission for starting a business
c) Gender discrimination
d) Building a support network
f) Non-availability of training programmes and technical support
g) Defying social expectations
h) Limited access to funding
i) Balancing business and family life
j) Coping with a fear of failure
For that reason, the percentage of women participation in Business is still much below that of their male counterparts, especially in rural areas. But we can’t think of our progress keeping women behind as they constitute half of our population.
To support women’s entrepreneurship development in order to release their creative potentials as entrepreneurs, innovative and specialized support services are needed. So government and some private organizations provide various facilities to them.
Government strategies in its National Action Plan (NAP) for the development of women’s entrepreneurship include:
Adoption of a comprehensive sustainable industrial policy that will promote equity for women and men
Setting up a Women Entrepreneurship Development Cell
Identification of women entrepreneurs
Ensuring women’s easy access to markets
Development of entrepreneurial skills of women through Entrepreneurship Development Training
Provision of infrastructural facilities for women entrepreneurs
Supporting services for financial and credit institutions
Meetings to discuss problems
WEDP assists many semi and non-literate women in Bangladesh, by helping them to start and improve their micro-business, in order to increase their income, improve their living conditions and raise their social status. TARANGO has developed, in cooperation with GTZ (German Technical Promotion), an entrepreneurship training program for non-literate women. The training is based on the CEFE approach (Competency-based Economies through Formation of Enterprises), an experiential learning model, and is highly adapted and tailored to the Bangladesh environment.
The government will provide training to 30,000 women entrepreneurs by 2018 on IT for ensuring the optimum use of ICT in the business plan, promotion, and management. The Women and ICT Frontiers Initiative (WIFI) of UN Asian and Pacific Training Centre for ICT for Development (UN-APCICT) has launched a programme, the first-ever in Bangladesh, to build Training and Trainers (Master Trainers) who will provide training to the 30,000 women entrepreneurs by 2018.
Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC) of ICT Division, Bangladesh Women in Technology and Bangladesh Institute of ICT Development in Bangladesh will work as implementing partners of the programme. This programme is aimed at ensuring the maximum use of ICT for business management, marketing, selling products and making a business plan.
Shakti Foundation a non-profit organization provides IT skills to underprivileged women that will help them gain social and economic independence through a holistic approach to IT entrepreneurship
In view of the need to bring rural women into the development stream of the country, the government, NGOs, and related agencies have provided ample opportunities to promote entrepreneurial skill. Income- generating activities, credit facilities, skill training, and market opportunities have all combined to pave the way for the emergence of entrepreneurial development among women in rural Bangladesh which ensures great prospects
Some other Public/government institutions that offer support services to women entrepreneurs include: Bangladesh Small & Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC); Bangladesh Rural Development Board (BRDB); Bangladesh Management Development Centre (BMDC); Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET); Directorate For Women’s Affairs (DWA); Department of Youth Development (DYD); Bangladesh Handloom Board (BHB); Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA); SME Foundation (SMEF); and Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) etc.
Private institutions and agencies that do the same include: Micro-Industries Development Assistance & Services (MIDAS); Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC); Gonoshasthaya Kendra (GK); Grameen Bank; Bangladesh Small Industries and Commerce Bank Limited (BASIC); Business Advisory Services Centre (BASC); National Association of Small and Cottage Industries of Bangladesh (NASCIB); Bangladesh Employers’ Association (BEA); Women Entrepreneur Association of Bangladesh (WEA); Jatiya Mohila Sangstha (JMS); Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BWCCCI); and Bangladesh Association of Women in SME (BAWSME).
Though women face problems in opening their new business if they can grab the facilities provided by above organizations they can definitely prove them as a successful entrepreneur.