Updated on : 12-02-2020
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said the government is working to increase the number of women entrepreneurs in the country aimed at ensuring their participation in the main stream of development.
“Women entrepreneurs are now involved with boutiques and apparel sectors or beauty parlor business. Their participation in the SME sector is only 7.21 percent. If we want to achieve double digit growth, we will have to increase the participation of women in business,” he said.
The minister said this while speaking as the chief guest at the inauguration function of the ‘Corporate Connect: Strengthening Market Access for Women Business Owners 2020 Conference and Business Fair’ at a hotel in the city.
International Finance Corporation (IFC) organised the conference.
Among others, IFC Country Manager for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal Wendy Werner, Senior Director for Gender of the World Bank Group Caren Grown and CEO and Co-Founder of WEConnect International Elizabeth A Vazquez were present on the occasion.
Tipu Munshi said the conference provides a platform for the government, private sector, and institutional partners to support the women entrepreneurs to succeed in value chains and make their mark on the local and global economy.
He hoped that this will encourage more companies to buy from women-owned businesses that provide innovative homegrown products and services.
The minister urged the development partners to work together with the government for increasing women in business.
He hoped that the number of women in SME sector will reach 10 percent within the next three or four years.
In his speech, Wendy Werner said, in Bangladesh, only 5 percent of formal micro, small and medium-sized companies are owned by women. “As an investor in emerging markets, IFC strongly believes that to enable companies and economies to grow, we must reduce the gaps between women and men in the private sector,” he added.
Caren Grown said the development of supply chain strategies is critical to the success of businesses, but women owned firms are often overlooked as key participants in those chains.
“Over the next three years, the project will help create a database of Bangladeshi women entrepreneurs in order to increase their participation in corporate value chains. The more that can be done to connect women-owned businesses with corporate buyers, the greater will be the benefit to both women entrepreneurs and to Bangladesh,” he added.
Elizabeth A Vazquez said WEConnect International is excited to bring its expertise in gender-inclusive sourcing to help buyers gain a competitive edge and women-owned businesses reach a broader market with their goods and services.
“We call on other buyers and women business owners to join the movement for supplier diversity as we work to achieve gender equality,” he added.
The earlier pilot project provided capacity building training to over 150 women entrepreneurs and facilitated linkages with large corporations through various business networking opportunities and nearly 90 percent of the beneficiaries reported improvements in their businesses. The project also led to the creation of the country’s first Supplier Diversity Advisory Committee.
The World Bank Group together with WEConnect International today also launched a project that will help 1,200 women-owned businesses connect with potential large local and multinational corporate buyers.
The project is supported by the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) and it will help enterprises access value chains and expand their business.
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