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Access to finance for women entrepreneurs is essential for sustainable development

  • Diplomatic Correspondent
  • 8th March, 2022 06:29:58 PM
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Access to finance for women entrepreneurs is essential for sustainable development

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To celebrate International Women’s Day, UNDP, UN Women and UNCDF jointly organised an event in Dhaka on Tuesday with several financial institutions in Bangladesh to highlight the importance of better and easier access to finance for women.

The event was an initiative of the “WING: Women’s Empowerment for Inclusive Growth” project, funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Bangladesh.

Stressing the need for accessible loans for women, Resident Representative of UNDP in Bangladesh Sudipto Mukerjee said, “We must create an enabling environment for women who are in the cottage, micro, small and medium businesses if we want to see sustainable progress in economic development for Bangladesh. Our WING project is working with the Government of Bangladesh, financial institutions, and the women themselves to empower women and to help Bangladesh achieve the SDGs by 2030.”

Of the almost eight million businesses in Bangladesh, 99.93 percent are cottage or micro, small and medium enterprises (CMSMEs) – and women own 7.2 percent of these businesses, according to a 2016 report by International Finance Corporation (IFC), said a press release of the UN Women Bangladesh.

“In most cases, women entrepreneurs are not aware of the financial services available, how to access them and how to leverage them for sustaining their businesses. It is critical to have gender-responsive policies that identify gender-specific needs to work with women Cottage, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (CMSMEs). At the same time, building technical capacity of women entrepreneurs, especially on digital tools, is also essential,” said Diya Nanda, Deputy Country Representative, UN Women.

Manager, SME & Special Programmes Department of Bangladesh Bank Md. Jaker Hossain said, “Without considering total women pool, we need to target the missing middles who are in need of credit facilities. We need to change mindset of women entrepreneurs along with the bank officials, so that they understand the need of proper documentation, keeping the transaction records and having a bank account/Mobile financial service wallet to get access to credit.”

To achieve the target of gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow, he said “we need to emphasise on the target oriented financial literacy and awareness building. Bangladesh Bank has provided numerous policy supports in order to promote the CMSME women entrepreneurs and minimize the gender gap. We need to ensure implementing the existing policies with support from all stakeholders including all financial institutions to achieve the desired goals.”

“The Netherlands is interested in a stable and economically strong Bangladesh, where plenty of jobs with opportunities for future generations are available, high value goods are produced and business opportunities are found everywhere, and for everyone.” stated Anne Van Leeuwen, Ambassador of Netherlands to Bangladesh.

“Facilitating access to finance for female entrepreneurs is a win-win situation for both the businesses and the financial institutions. Encouraging and including half of the population, i.e., the women, in economic activities can only increase the economic potential of Bangladesh and assist to pave the way to becoming a Middle-Income Country inclusively and faster,” the envoy added.

One of the key objectives of this UN Joint Programme, WING, is to ensure that women have sustainable improvements in income and economic security at the local level with more women having access to local economic opportunities, private and public financial services as well as income-generating activities.