Published: Wednesday, June 19, 2013

More focus on women to yield economic dividends

Analysts speak on women entrepreneurs

From left, Rupali Chowdhury, managing director of Berger Paints BD Ltd; Sabrina Islam, president of Women Entrepreneurs' Association, Bangladesh; Freda Miriklis, president of International Federation of Business and Professional Women; Norlin Binti Othman, Malaysian high commissioner; Rokia A Rahman, president of MCCI; Heather Cruden, Canadian high commissioner; Arif Zaman, adviser to the Commonwealth Business Council, attend a discussion on women entrepreneurship, at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel in Dhaka yesterday. Photo: Star

From left, Rupali Chowdhury, managing director of Berger Paints BD Ltd; Sabrina Islam, president of Women Entrepreneurs’ Association, Bangladesh; Freda Miriklis, president of International Federation of Business and Professional Women; Norlin Binti Othman, Malaysian high commissioner; Rokia A Rahman, president of MCCI; Heather Cruden, Canadian high commissioner; Arif Zaman, adviser to the Commonwealth Business Council, attend a discussion on women entrepreneurship, at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel in Dhaka yesterday. Photo: Star

The government must focus more on the development of women entrepreneurs to speed up economic growth, analysts said yesterday.
If women are empowered properly, it will definitely leave a positive impact on the country’s gross domestic product, said Arif Zaman, adviser to the Commonwealth Business Council for corporate governance and South Asia.
“So every government should promote women entrepreneurship.”
Zaman spoke in a discussion on women leadership for enterprise, organised on the sidelines of the 10th Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting, at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel in Dhaka yesterday.
The discussion was co-organised by the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) and the women and children affairs ministry.
Bangladeshi women have progressed significantly over the years and are playing a vital role in business, said Rokia A Rahman, president of MCCI.
Access to loan for women, especially in rural areas, is not a problem in the country now as many nongovernmental organisations are closely working for the women entrepreneurs, she said.
Microcredit has built confidence among women by giving them mobility, Rokia Rahman said.
Bangladesh has around 20 million women recipients of microcredit, who indirectly benefit around 100 million people, she said.
Women are getting bank loans more easily than before due to the central bank’s directive to allocate at least 10 percent of the total loan disbursement of banks for women, she said.
Leadership should not be gender-specific, said Rupali Chowdhury, managing director of Berger Paints BD Ltd.
Women entrepreneurs now struggle a lot to strike a balance between the job and the family life, as the current business world is ruthless, she said.
Every businesswoman should now determine what she would be — an excellent mother or an outstanding employee, she said.
Bangladeshi women are “very professional”, said Norlin Binti Othman, Malaysian high commissioner in Dhaka.
Women are leading many government offices in Malaysia, and “they are doing well”, she said.
Othman also shed light on increasing trade between the two countries which she said would help promote women entrepreneurship.
The country’s trade bodies should come forward for the development of women entrepreneurship, said Heather Cruden, Canadian high commissioner in Bangladesh.
Meher Afroz Chumki, state minister for women and children affairs, said Bangladesh is a modern and gender-sensitive nation.
She said the government is working to promote women entrepreneurship in the country through creating new opportunities for them.
There are more than 200 million women entrepreneurs worldwide and women are earning more than $10 trillion yearly which is expected to grow by 5 trillion over the next several years, said Freda Miriklis, president of International Federation of Business and Professional Women.
The women are the next emerging growth market that the governments and companies can no longer ignore, Miriklis said.
Sabrina Islam, president of Women Entrepreneurs’ Association, Bangladesh, and Luna Shamsuddoha, chairman of Dohatec, also spoke.