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The growing women entrepreneurship in Bangladesh

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09th-Feb-2019       
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N.S.M. Muzzammel Huq :
Women entrepreneurship is now a rapidly growing socio-economic phenomenon in the developing countries. Developing countries are now giving emphasis on women entrepreneurship development issues as a part of their national development initiatives. Today, it is recognized that women's entrepreneurship can make a particular and strong contribution to the economic welfare of the families and communities, in employment generation, poverty reduction and women empowerment ensuring their rights.
Bangladesh is also marching ahead to achieve the status of middle income country by 2021 that the country has a per capita income of US$ 3500. Bangladesh during the period 2008 to 2018 achieved remarkable success in women and children development initiatives, especially women empowerment, women's decision making, health and nutrition and small entrepreneurship including employment generation. Now the country has become a role model for other developing countries. These successes in the socio-economic sectors widened and opened the scope of achieving gender equality. The Gender Gap Index 2017 formulated by the World Economic Forum placed Bangladesh in first spot consecutively for the second time. The Women folk in Bangladesh now are playing the role of catalyst in development efforts.
A women entrepreneur is defined as a woman who has alone or with one or more partners started or inherited a business and is eager to take financial, administrative and social risk and responsibilities and participate in the day to day management activities. Women entrepreneurship is a challenging phenomenon in Bangladesh as women are economically and socially lagged behind. Main hindrances on the way of women entrepreneurship development in our country are illiteracy, unawareness, unorganized powerlessness, backing deprivation, lack of capital support, rigid social customs, religious superstitions and non-cooperation from the male partners etc. Only 18 percent women in Bangladesh are engaged in non-agricultural sectors. Per capita income of women in Bangladesh is only US$ 2500. The scope of education for women is less than the male. But life expectancy of women is 74.6 years in Bangladesh compared to 71.2 of the males.
Bangladesh gave pragmatic attention to achieve economic development, educational development, social changes leading to upgrading living standards and providing health care to the common people, but keeping half of the country's population; our women behind the door and without empowerment, Bangladesh cannot achieve its long term development goal. A society cannot afford to waste half of its human resources through discriminating a group on the ground of sex. Upon this realization government has adopted national policies to facilitate a development process involving women in all spheres of economic activities focusing their entrepreneurship development. Most of the women of Bangladesh are not only poor, but also binded by age old customs, cultural traditions who are mostly like to continue their activities inside family homesteads. They like to keep themselves in bearing and rearing children.
But the socio-economic situation, increase of population, landlessness and poverty have placed this section, our women outside home and thus bound them to get involved in various economic initiatives for survival. This became a challenge for women and those who accepted this challenge have emerged as leaders and started contributing in earnings for the families and thus achieved empowerment. Bangladesh is now passing through a process of economic uplift focusing on the most disadvantaged groups, women throughout the country. These empowered women need to inspire other women to realize their dreams for a better life through entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship in the recent past was considered as a man's domain. But the concept has undergone a drastic change throughout the developing nations. It is a matter of hope of aspiration now. Normally Women Entrepreneurship faces challenges like: defiance of social expectations, inadequate access to funding, balancing business and family expectations, owning accomplishments, building support network, coping with fear of failure situation etc.
In spite of various initiatives, inadequate capital, sales promotion, getting permission to start a business, illiteracy, lack of business  knowledge, lack of proper business related training and technical support, lack of managerial experience are the problems on the way of women entrepreneurship. Participation of women in business is still much below. So innovative and specialized support services are needed to utilize the creative potentials of women entrepreneurs in this field, though our government is trying hard providing many facilities and services to uphold women entrepreneurship.
Our uneducated, disadvantaged backward rural women entrepreneurs rarely get access to any technical and financial support to have a boost in their business from the domestic level to the commercial. In view of the need to bring these rural women into the development stream of the country government, NGOs and related agencies have come forward to promote entrepreneurial skills to women. Income generating activities, credit facilities, skill development training, and market opportunities have all paved the way for their emergence of entrepreneurship.  Today as a developing nation women of Bangladesh have emerged as small and cottage industries exporters and their new found control of export oriented industries is promising for further female participation and employment.  Women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh need massive support services to contribute more in the national development process. Legal assistance for trade license and trade document, financial support at low interest rate, easy access to credit facilities /loans, marketing assistance to use local products, service quality control and adoption of new technology, human resource management technique including employee and customer management etc are needed for their upliftment.
The present Government has formulated policies and programs for their betterment. Promotion of equity for women and men, identification of women entrepreneurs, ensuring women's easy access to markets, training for entrepreneurs, supporting services for financial and credit institutions and promoting of product development at home and international market etc are some of the programs government has taken for them.
In a country where male-female ratio of population is almost equal, there women should enjoy all sorts of rights, rights in property, resources and wealth should be uniformed. It is possible to ensure women's economic rights. Government and the society should be ready to encourage women entrepreneurship as a part of macro development approach. It is hoped that further initiatives will pave the way to the emergence and development of women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh in an ideal way.
(PID- Project Feature)

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