Bangladesh sees steady growth in women entrepreneurship

Md Ashiquer Rahman Bhuiyan

8 March, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Bangladesh has seen a steady rise in women entrepreneurships during the past decade, a trend that is making the country’s economy more gender-inclusive.

As the pandemic ravaged the economy, the rise in women entrepreneurships worked like a breeze in hot summer.

"If compared with 10 years ago, women are more empowered now. They have overcome social prejudices to a great extent," said Nishat Mushfiqua, the owner of Deshojo Crafts.

She said, "Earlier, women didn't have the access to any kind of financial assistance. There were no organizations that worked with women. Now, the situation has changed significantly.”

Mushfiqua said the women are today enjoying access to different funding facilities for their businesses which will help them flourish further in the days to come.

The government has already adopted multiple initiatives to boost up the women entrepreneurial activities with the help of Bangladesh Bank and other financial organizations till date.

Women’s entrepreneurial activities increased significantly as Bangladesh Bank report exhibits, the amount of women entrepreneurial loan rose to Tk 4,772.99 crore upto the year 2017.

The amount was Tk 5,345.46 crore in 2016, Tk 4,226.99 crore in 2015, Tk 3,938.75 crore in 2014, Tk 3,346.55 crore in 2013, Tk 2,244.01 crore in 2012, Tk 2,048.45 crore in 2011 and Tk 1,804.98 crore in 2010.

"Currently, some 1,500-2,000 people, mostly women, are joining training programmes in our organization directly or indirectly," said Nishat Mushfiqua in a jubilant tone.

The Internet and e-commerce are also providing new platforms for women to earn money.

"Building of ‘Digital Bangladesh’ has also enabled the country’s women entrepreneurs to earn money and contribute to the economy," Mushfiqua said.

"When the most businesses were hit hard by the pandemic, Deshojo Craft didn’t submit and rather embraced it as blessings overcoming the challenges," the Deshojo Craft owner said.

Morsheda Moury, founder and CEO of Gigs and also owner of Food Van, said they also provided training on different IT related areas including graphics designing and website and mobile application development.

She said they already trained more than 1000 people.

"Although the number of the people who took training so far is not that big, the targeted group is who are educated but not doing any job," Morsheda said.        

She said the women, who could not engage themselves with earning money for various reasons, are encouraged to participate in the training.

"We help the unemployed people exploit their education and we want to make this investment help our economy,” Morsheda added. She said after training, the women can become financially solvent, contribute to the economy and most importantly earn confidence which they need to go forward.

Morsheda Moury said, “Homemakers can now earn extra sums without going outside their homes through the platforms like Foodvan, a catering service provider.”

She said right after its start early last year, the Foodvan received a huge amount of responses. She said years ago, the people didn't have the trust to invest some money to learn something, but the scenario has changed and the people are learning skills.

The women entrepreneurs, however, said although the number is inspiring, they still suffer lack of mental supports from their families. They believe that the country will see more women contributing to the economy if the families extend their supports to their female members.

A survey report in Bangladesh shows that 19.20 percent of all firms have some female participation in ownership or have a female manager. Women are projected to control nearly 75 percent of consumer discretionary spending worldwide by 2028.