Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   |  Volume 6, Issue 16, Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Banks provide services exclusively for women

When an entrepreneur is starting a new business, she needs good funding. There are bank loans, micro loans, business grants, savings accounts and all sorts of other types of business funding. Many banks and financial institutions offer small business loans specifically for women. But you should know which loan is right for you.

Women entrepreneurs have to hurdle over many obstacles, especially regarding loan acquisition. Whether you are an experienced entrepreneur, a new business owner, or somewhere in between you need loans from banks to expand and sustain your business.

With higher levels of economic growth expected in the coming years, Bangladesh's banks have already begun giving widespread loans to women.

Many women are scared to apply for loans since they fear that failure to repay will increase their levels of poverty. Low awareness about these schemes is another reason for their slow uptake.

“You won't find any women among the loan defaulters. Why would the banks not give them loans? The banks should not feel hesitant about providing loans to women entrepreneurs as they are not usually among the big loan defaulters”, said Bangladesh Bank governor Dr Atiur Rahman.

Almost all public and private sector banks run special schemes to fund women entrepreneurs; yet it proves to be difficult for women to acquire loans easily. A wide network of NGOs also provides loan schemes for women.

The City Bank
The City Bank has introduced an SME loan named 'City Nokshi' especially for women entrepreneurs within the age of 24 to 50 who are Bangladeshi nationals with one and a half years of experience in any legitimate business supported by a trade license.

This loan, at a10 per cent interest rate, ranges between Tk 100,000 and Tk 25, 00,000 subject to completion of certain conditions.

There are a good number of women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh and in order to promote entrepreneurs, they have started this collateral free loan. This is 100 percent refinance from Central Bank at 5 percent rate.

The loan aims to promote prospective women entrepreneurs so that they can run successful businesses as well as continue their active participation in social development.

This package provides four types of SME loans --Muldhan, Sheba, Shulov and Munafa. This loan is payable within 18 months with monthly instalments of Tk 6005.71, partially collateralised loan within 40 months with Tk 2950.08 of monthly instalment.

Trust Bank
According to Rabiul Alam Munna, In charge of Corporate Brand and Market Communication, "To encourage women and their saving tendency, Trust Bank has launched a new product 'Trust Manobee'. Under the umbrella of Trust Manobee the bank is offering attractive accounts for female customers.

Trust Sristi Account is an interest bearing deposit account for female where the interest will be paid on monthly basis. The policy covers from Tk.10,000 to Tk.100,000 for normal death and accidental death respectively.

Trust Privilege Account is a sub sector of “Trust Sristi Account” specially designed for the minors. The accountholder's mother has to have an account under the umbrella of Trust Sristi account. It is a zero balance savings account where a minor will operate his or her account under the supervision of his guardian and will cultivate the culture of savings at the very early age. The interest rate is 1 percent greater than that of Sristi."

Trust Bank's Women Entrepreneur Loan is a scheme launched to benefit women entrepreneurs to support them by providing certain concessions and it is offered to 20 to 55-year-old women in retail trade, sole proprietorships or partnerships, preferably with two years of successful business operations.

The Credit facility starts from Tk. 1 lac to Tk. 50 lac for small industry and Tk. 50 lac to Tk 150 lac for medium industry. The interest rate is 10 percent and the processing fee is from 1 to 1.5 percent.

No Mortgage or Equitable Mortgage for loans up to Tk. 25 lac. The loan repayment period is one year for working capital finance and a maximum of five years for fixed assets purchase. The loan can be repaid by Equal Monthly Instalment (EMI) or from sales proceeds.

Mutual Trust Bank
Mutual Trust Bank's Ruby Scheme is a rewarding savings account for women. As the name implies, this scheme is exclusively tailored for women to give them that extra edge to succeed. Besides the core MTB banking advantage, MTB Ruby, an exclusive savings account for women, is packed with special benefits for women clients. The minimum account opening balance is Tk 10,000, and the minimum daily qualifying balance to earn interest is Tk 10,000.

The purpose of MTB Ruby is to enjoy hassle-free banking services for today's independent women. Interest is earned on a daily basis and credited monthly. The other advantage is that they do not charge a debit card fee for the first year.

BRAC Bank also promotes small scale women entrepreneurs by providing 'Prothoma Loan' from Tk 3 lac to around Tk 10 lac.

Pledges or hypothecation of present and future assets are made out of the bank loans. Two personal guarantors are required. The term loan or the composite term loan is adjusted along with interest in 36 equal monthly instalments after three to six months from the date of availing the loan, depending upon generation of surplus.

The interest rate is 15 percent and the loan processing fees are 2.5 percent of the base loan amount plus VAT.

Jamuna Bank
Jamuna Bank provides personal loans for working women and housewives.

Under this scheme, housewives with spouses who earn a certain level of income are also eligible for this loan.

Their scheme titled Protyasha provides financial assistance to women for small and medium sized businesses. Applicants should be female entrepreneurs who have two years of experience in the same line of business and whose monthly cash flow supports the proposed loan repayment instalments.

This is a term loan. A copy of a passport-size photograph of borrower or partners as well as guarantor(s), copy of National Identity Card, copy of valid Trade License, declaration of net worth of the borrower, duly signed and crossed post dated cheque in favour of bank branch for each instalment and one undated cheque for full loan value including full interest supported by memorandum of deposit of cheques is required. In addition, the bank also requires a financial statement, an up-to-date clean CIB report and an NOC from Directorate of Environment.

The rate of interest is 15 percent with quarterly rest or as revised from time to time. The loan amount with interest is repayable in 60 equated monthly instalments but one year before retirement. Service Charge 1 percent (Minimum Tk.500) is also applicable.

Women can get Tk50, 000 to Tk3 lac. Monthly Repayment facility is available.

No collateral security is required.

Eastern Bank Limited
Eastern Bank started women-only SME loan 'Mukti' from 2008. The interest rate of the loan is 10 percent and the ceiling of the loan is from Tk.1 lac to Tk.25 lac.

"Mukti is targeted to facilitate finance to our existing women entrepreneurs from 24 years to 55 of age. Under the Unit Head, we have women loan officers, two dedicated women Relationship Managers at Banani and Moghbazar SME centre and we are booking women entrepreneur loan through all 39 EBL SME centres all over the country," said Mr. Khurshed, Head of Business, SME Banking, EBL.

The move to assist women is not only meant to eradicate poverty, but to improve their lives. Investing in women entrepreneurship has a high impact on poverty alleviation and economic development. Women have proven to be wise investors, prudent spenders and compassionate care-givers. Almost all public sector banks have special loan schemes for women entrepreneurs. But low awareness and a passive mindset ensure that there are very few takers.

Tumpa Wahid, a 30 year-old entrepreneur from Chittagong, has also benefited from a women's loan that has helped her expand her business. “I started fashion designing two years ago. I needed funds to start my own venture. The bank liked my concept and was quick to offer me a loan of Tk 3 lakh. The entire loan procedure took just about two weeks”, she said.

She thinks that obtaining the Tax Identification Number (TIN) form is the greatest challenge for women entrepreneurs. “The employees of the bank assist the applicants of the loan on the following criteria. Women still fear to get loans. The good thing, with these types of loans is that you can always borrow again as soon as you pay back,” she explains.

“The government should announce a 'Women Entrepreneurs Development Policy' to encourage women entrepreneurs”, said BWCCI President Selima Ahmed. She also stressed the need for setting up women-dedicated desks at all banks to avert any challenges and problems in getting bank loans and paying utility bills.

Although the Bangladesh Bank issued a circular that earmarked Tk 120 crore to be disbursed as loans to women entrepreneurs, only 35 percent of the amount has been released so far.

The government should fully implement the circular of Bangladesh Bank to encourage the country's women entrepreneurs and expand their businesses.

Finance Minister A M A Muhith said he would consider the possibility of arranging collateral-free loans for the women entrepreneurs of the country.

State Minister for Women and Children Affairs Dr Shirin Sharmin said she would take steps in collaboration with the finance ministry so that the lending institutions provide loans at lower interest rates to the women entrepreneurs.

“A prerequisite to development is the elimination of poverty and the empowerment of women and the SME sector is, in fact, playing a key role in reaching this goal,” she said.

By Farizaa Sabreen


Soothing care for sensitive skin

Beautician, La Belle
13/A /2 Kemal Ataturk Avenue ,
( 3rd/ 4th fl ) Gulshan -2

Sensitive skin is usually fine in texture, with a tendency to be rosier than normal. It is easily irritated by products and external factors, prone to redness and allergy. It may also have fine broken veins across the cheeks and nose.

It needs extra gentle products to keep it healthy and well cared for. If you find most products irritating on the skin use whole milk to cleanse.

Choose from hypoallergenic ranges that are specially formulated to serve sensitive skin. They are screened for common irritants such as fragrance that may cause dryness and itching.

1. Make sure that the makeup you use is also hypo-allergic. Clean thoroughly; traces of stale make up can cause havoc. Clean eye liner with a wet cotton bud.

2. Steer clear of face washes and soaps as they will strip your skin of oil and moisture.

3. Use a mild light cleansing lotion.

4. No toner at all, a splash of lukewarm water will remove traces of cleanser and freshen the skin.

5. Lightly pat skin dry with a soft towel. No harsh scrubbing.

It is essential to keep the skin moisturised to strengthen it and provide a barrier against irritants that lead to sensitivity. You can choose an unscented moisturiser. A solution of rose water and glycerin may work quite well too.

Always protect your skin from the sun. Wear a hat or use an umbrella and of course sunscreen is indispensable! Exposure to the sun will make the skin blotchy, red and hot!

Balanced care for sensitive skin
Most ladies in Dhaka have a combination skin type. This skin-type needs careful care because it has a blend of oily and dry patches. The T- zone, that is, across the forehead and the nose and chin are oily and need to be treated like oily skin while other areas are prone to dryness and lack moisture therefore need to be treated like dry skin. However not everybody has an oily T-zone and may have oily and dry patches in a different pattern.

If you are unsure about which areas are dry and which are oily, press a tissue to your face after an hour of washing it. Any greasy patches will indicate the oily areas.

A twin approach to your skin care is required. If you treat it like oily skin, it will become too dry and tight and if you treat it like dry skin you will breakout.

This means you have to deal with the different areas with products to suit. This is not as complicated as it sounds and it will result in a clearer complexion.

1. Use a foaming face wash in the morning to cleanse your skin. Massage a little, concentrating on the oily areas. Leave on for a few seconds to dissolve the dirt and splash with cool water to wash.

2. In the evening switch to a cream cleanser to ensure the cleaning of the dry areas. Massage gently into the skin concentrating on dry patches. Remove with a cotton pad.

3. To freshen the skin, use a stronger astringent to the oily areas with a cotton ball and a milder toner for the dry area.

4. Use a light moisturiser all over the face and blot off the excess oil from only the oily area with a tissue. This should give your skin adequate moisture while removing excess oil from the skin.


“At your service Ma'am”

Prime Collection is one of the gift shops along Dhanmondi Road 5 and is a joy for a woman's heart. Here one finds items for slimming, machines and “serums” for curling and straightening of women's hair. Bleach creams, facial masques with mud, sandalwood, and facial cleansers from Olay, Pears and Indian makes with floral aroma are to be found at lightning speed by Arif Shamsi and his eager, trained assistant Shuman with his flashing teeth and sparkling eyes. They are eager to please their lady customers with ready-made clothes, cosmetics and perfumes as much as any of their rivals, who have their fashion outlet cheek by jowl to them.

Even if they don't have the brand of perfume, cologne, body wash, lipstick or some such essential item, the shop has connections to obtain it for you within a given time. If one is an old or regular customer, they will lower the price a bit if you cajole them and play their game of exchanging charm.

The well-known brands of cologne and perfumes are available both for homme and femme. These include Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein, Lanvin, Christian Dior, Yardley, Caroline Herara, and what have you. They range from Tk3000 to Tk 6000, as in most outlets where original brands are available. Apart from the French, US and English makes, the German Tabac cologne, a hot favourite for the man about town always in some eternal rush, is here too. Some reliable Spanish, Russian and Middle Eastern makes are also here to be experimented with.

Apart from the conventional “powder and patch” items, there are gift items like candle stands made of plastic and quasi metal bits, cut glass tableware in blood red and transparent colours, others in royal blue with geometrical and lily bud patterns; curios in the shapes of delectable female forms, elephants, centaurs, birds of paradise and flamingos in brilliant, scintillating colours that catch the eye such as tangerine orange, lapis lazuli, blue and jade green. The colours and shapes of these curios are simply irresistible as gifts for your dear ones such as your mother or favourite aunt or even your wifewho deserve so much of your attention and care.

Pinned, exotic, oriental butterflies in gorgeous colours are to be found here. Gold-plated and diamante bearing flowers with tendril and cute lamps in miniature, an arc of elephants in brilliant shades are the patterns for more fascinating curios for special friends are here too. The nephews overseas should like the Swiss knife and the horoscope knife just as the suave uncle might care for the mellow shape of the pipe and cravat.

Kashmiri Ali, owner of adjacent shopping outlet “Rachana” has reasons to be proud of her progress from a shop for children's clothes to one with a wonderful collection of gorgeous, trendy saris. There are silk items from Thailand and India with sequins, fabric colour and other makes that should be perfect for afternoon or evening wear. This is just the place for trousseau collection for the bourgeois women. Other accessories like hand and shoulder bags in fake leather, silk and embroidery (as in the next-door Prime Collection) are also items to consider for Eids, Pujas and other breaks in the pell-mell rush of metropolitan existence. This may not be as flamboyant as Lisa Mowla's or Naheeda Sharmeen's more pricey collections with hand embroidery and fabric paint, but they are a must for any woman's boudoir.

By Fayza Haq


For Rapunzels and Shirley Temples

Hong Kong Herbal Beauty Parlour, sitting between Prime Collection and Rachna in Dhanmondi, is a favourite beauty joint for women. Run by Jessie, and other Roman Catholic Chinese women, the place is full of ready smiles and female giggles.

This doesn't have the air of the cold, impersonal, business-like attitude of many other beauty parlours. From Jessie, who is the chief beautician, to school-goers with sparkling eyes and red uniforms of the “Shurob” school, and the six month old baby girl with saucer eyes, the place is more like a recreation centre; resounding with bonhomie and happy laughter.

The patrons of this place are bourgeois working women and their daughters who want their hair dyed with henna or straightened, as the mood and age permits. Tight corkscrew curls may be the model in the clientele's mind. College-goers in egret white with their large carry-bags, full of books and instrument boxes also land up here to trim their eyebrows and have facials with cucumber, rose-water, sandalwood paste and what you will.

Apart from pedicures, manicures and facials of various types, what is most attractive about this place is that it fits the budget of the overworked bourgeois mother; and the working-woman who has healthy meals to cook and toilets to keep free from odour, apart from going to the workplace to bring in the jam and butter.

A few extra items are thrown in for good measure, if the client is a very special and regular one i.e. who turns up to be pampered and tended to come rain or shine. She barely has time to see even the mirror before she rushes out for the workplace.

If the greying hair is touched up and trimmed, if the hours of weariness are wiped off with bleach, one looks and feels more ready to take up the challenges of the day. Aside from either the TV or radio turned on depending on the mood of the 15 young beauticians, there are the regular magazines to glance through if one is just waiting for a friend who is being tended to.

The peak period is during Pohela Falgun, Pohela Boishakh, two Eids and of course, the wedding season -- what with the 'Gaye holud', 'Akhth' and 'Bou Bhat' in the Bangladesh winter.

Durga Puja and Diwali are not to be entirely ignored. Festive seasons are the time to lay aside the office flick outs, and be radiant and confident with hair that is groomed. One walks with more grace and aplomb when the hair is styled and the face is done up after lying for hours under the cucumber paste.

As the parlour is centrally placed in Dhanmondi, ladies gather here in between their shopping and absolutely necessary gossip and giggle sessions. The weary hours of marketing for the in-laws or aunts and cousins during Eid, weddings and in-laws can be faced with courage -- if an hour or two of beauty therapy can be packed in for the morning on one's day off.

By Fayza Haq


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