WED Programs

Women entrepreneurship development is one of the most prioritized commitments of SME Foundation (SMEF). SMEF is working in diversified sectors in relation with the empowerment of women entrepreneurs in SMEs. The goal of these activities is to bring the women entrepreneurs in the mainstream of development process and thus ensure their empowerment. In the reporting year, through the Women Entrepreneurship Development wing the Foundation worked in the following areas with a reflection of Gender Action Plan 2008-2012:

Conducted a Study on `Women Entrepreneurs in SMEs: Bangladesh Perspective’

Women constitute about fifty percent of the total population of Bangladesh. Keeping this larger portion of people out of development activity is near about impossible to maintain economic growth. To identify the challenges and opportunities of women entrepreneurs in SMEs the Foundation conducted a study on “Women Entrepreneurs in SMEs: Bangladesh Perspective”. The study suggested various ways for the development of women entrepreneurs in SMEs.

Organized Gender Sensitizing Training for the Bankers

It is learnt that women entrepreneurs do not have easy access to institutional credit services. On the other hand it is also told by the bankers that women entrepreneurs have lack of inclination to borrow and most of the times they can not comply with the requirements to borrow fund. SME Foundation feels that there should be a networking or match making between the bankers and the women entrepreneurs to reduce the gap. Keeping this in mind, the Foundation is organized Gender Sensitizing Training for the Bankers in order to minimize this gap. In the reporting year SMEF organized two training programs in Bogra and Sylhet and another one is expected to be held in Khulna by April’10. A total of 50 mid level officers of different commercial banks and 30 women entrepreneurs were attended those two programs.

Organized Sharing Meeting to Smooth Credit Flow for Women Entrepreneurs

Women entrepreneurs are more or less informal in their business. They have lack of business documents that are inevitable for getting institutional credit. Because of these limitations banking and non-banking financial institutions are reluctant to provide credit to the women entrepreneurs. In order to minimize these impediments between the lenders and receivers SMEF organized a sharing meeting where 35 women entrepreneurs and 10 bankers were attended. Right of women entrepreneurs for credit, processing and preparation for receiving credit were discussed in the meeting.

Organized Meeting with Women Trade Associations

SME Foundation and many women business associations are working for the women entrepreneurs in the country. All of them are working with a common goal of women entrepreneurship development. SME Foundation invited different women entrepreneurs’ associations to exchange their views regarding this issue. In the reporting year representatives from Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BWCCI), Women Entrepreneurs Association of Bangladesh (WEAB) and Chittagong Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CWCCI) visited the Foundation and exchange their views in this regard.

Facilitated Training for the Women Entrepreneurs

Bangladesh Bank Training Academy (BBTA) organized training on SME Financing for the Women Entrepreneurs. In response to the request of BBTA the Foundation identified 180 women entrepreneurs. Identified entrepreneurs were recommended to attend the programs in different times. Most of them who attended the training have been successfully operating their business with institutional credit facilities.

Formation of National Women Entrepreneurs’ Forum

To develop a common platform for the women entrepreneurs SME Foundation is working to form National Women Entrepreneurs’ Forum. In this connection SMEF is collecting views from women entrepreneurs, women business leaders and the experts in this field.

National SME Women Entrepreneur Award- 2010

Today it is recognized that the pace of economic growth of a country is highly related with the development of women in general and Women entrepreneurs in particular. Keeping that in mind, SME Foundation announced “National SME Women Entrepreneur Award- 2010” for the second time this year. The purposes of the program were to recognize the SME women entrepreneurs and acknowledge their contributions to the socio-economic development of the country and thereby ensure women empowerment.

The grand gala award giving ceremony was organized on 21 December 2010, at 6:00 pm at Grand Ballroom of Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel, Dhaka. Mr. Abul Maal Abdul Muhit, MP, Honorable Minister, Ministry of Finance, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh graces the occasion as chief guest. Honorable Minister Mr. Dilip Barua, Ministry of Industries, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh and Honorable State Minister Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Ministry of Women & Children Affairs, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh were present in the program as the special guests. Mr. Aftab ul Islam, FCA, Chairperson, Board of Directors, SME Foundation presided over the ceremony. Among others Mr. Ian Crosby, representative of International Finance Corporation (IFC), Syed Rezwanul Kabir, MD & CEO of SME Foundation and Dr. Nurul Quadir, DGM and Head of Women Entrepreneurship Development Wing of SME Foundation were also present.

“National SME Women Entrepreneur Award- 2010” was awarded to three women entrepreneurs for their outstanding business performance in three different categories. The awardees were selected from 127 applicants by an independent jury board comprised of Chairperson, Board of Directors of SME Foundation Mr. Aftab ul Islam, FCA, former Governor of Bangladesh Bank Dr. Salehuddin Ahmed, Chairman of BRAC Bank Ltd. Mr. Muhammad A. (Rumi) Ali, Editor of The Financial Express Mr. A.H.M. Moazzem Hossain, CEO of Bibi Production Ms. Bibi Russel, Head of Research of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Dr. Fahmida Khatun and Head of Women Entrepreneurship Development of SME Foundation Dr. Nurul Quadir.

The winners of the “National SME Women Entrepreneur Award- 2010” are Ms. Tanuja Rahman of Jessore as ‘Best Women Entrepreneur’, Women’s Fashion World of Sylhet led by Sarnalata Roy as ‘Best Enterprise Run by Women Entrepreneur’ and Ms. Roksana Akter of Dhaka as ‘Best Innovative Women Entrepreneur’. Each awardees received one lac taka, one crest and a certificate.

About 450 guests from different segments of the society and from all over the country were present in the program. The award giving ceremony was ended with a colorful cultural show.

About 90 journalists from different news agencies were also present in the program. After the gala event 12 leading newspapers, 10 television channels and 03 FM Radio channels covered the “National SME Women Entrepreneur Award- 2010” as one of the important news. Moreover, several special reports were published on the award program and awardees in different newspapers on different dates.

Attachment of Women Entrepreneurs with Beauty Parlor and Fitness Center

With the growing demand of the beautification and fitness industry, beauty parlor and fitness businesses are flourishing. As a result, good numbers of beauty parlors and fitness centers are operating all over the country regardless of rural and urban. The newcomers in this field have limited scope to work with a reputed firm in this industry where they can learn how to work and manage a beauty parlor or fitness center more scientifically and successfully. To serve the demand of these women entrepreneurs interested in this industry, SME Foundation organized a 10-days long training program. The training program was conducted at Persona Institute of Beauty & Lifestyle where renowned faculties of the institute trained the participants.

A total of 27 women entrepreneurs took part in the training course, designed to help them become small entrepreneurs and create employment opportunities. The trainees were selected from Bogra, Joypurhat, Pabna, Gaibandha, Dhaka and Rangamati Hill Tract districts.

The certificate giving ceremony of the training course was held on September 30, 2010 at Spectra Convention Centre of Dhaka. Managing Director & CEO of SME Foundation Syed Rezwanul Kabir presided over the event, while it's Chairperson Mr. Aftab ul Islam, FCA and President of BFWE Mrs. Rokia Afzal Rahman were attended the program as guests of honor. Persona Managing Director Ms. Kaniz Almas Khan and Dr. Nurul Quadir, DGM, SME Foundation were present among others.

Dissemination Seminar on “Women Entrepreneurs in SMEs: Bangladesh Perspective”:

SME Foundation has conducted a study on “Women Entrepreneurs in SMEs: Bangladesh Perspective”. The findings dissemination seminar was organized in Dhaka on July 21, 2010 at CIRDAP Auditorium. The program aimed at disseminating the findings of the study to the women entrepreneurs, concerned government and non-government agencies and development partners.

Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Honourable State Minister, Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh was present as Chief Guest. About 60 guests from government & non-government organization, development partners, policy makers, women entrepreneurs and journalists were present in the program.

The program was presided over and moderated by Mr. Aftab ul Islam, FCA, Chairperson, Board of Directors, SME Foundation. SME Foundation MD & CEO Syed Rezwanul Kabir and Head of Women Entrepreneurship Development Department Dr. Nurul Quadir were also present in the program among others.

Facilitated Training for the Women Entrepreneurs

In response to the request of Bangladesh Bank Training Academy (BBTA), the Foundation identified and recommended 50 women entrepreneurs for its training program on “SME Financing for the Women Entrepreneurs”. Most of the participants who attended the training have been successfully operating their business with institutional credit facilities.

Gender Sensitizing Training for the Bankers

It is learnt that women entrepreneurs do not have easy access to institutional credit services. On the other hand, from the bankers’ perspective, most of the women entrepreneurs cannot comply with the requirements of loan applications. Under the circumstances, SME Foundation feels that there should be a networking and match making between the bankers and the women entrepreneurs to reduce the gap. Keeping this in mind, the Foundation organized “Gender Sensitizing Training for the Bankers”. In the reporting year SMEF organized a training program in Barisal. A total of 25 mid-level bankers and 25 women entrepreneurs attended the programs. Another two similar training events are expected to be organized in Rajshahi and Chittagong.

Policy Facilitation for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs

The Foundation supporting in improving the entrepreneurial and technical skills of women entrepreneurs by strengthening women’s trade bodies and service providers, and supports improvements in capacity development and regulatory environment to encourage the development of entrepreneurship among women. To identify the area of actions by different regulatory bodies working for the advancement of women entrepreneurs and establish an effective bridge among the women entrepreneurs and policy makers SMEF organized an expert opinion meeting styled ‘ Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs: What to Do’. About 70 representatives from different regulatory bodies including Bangladesh Bank, Dhaka City Corporation, National Board of Revenue, Ministry of Women & Children Affairs, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Dept of Social Welfairs and Export Promotion Bureau among others attended at this workshop. SME Foundation has been undertaking different programs to implement the recommendations of this meeting. Based on given commitments, the Foundation is also following up with different public and private organizations to implement the programs in proper way.

Market Linkage for Women Entrepreneurs

To accelerate the advancement of women entrepreneurs and to build a relationship among the buyers and suppliers to mitigate marketing related problems of the products producing by the women entrepreneurs a buyers suppliers meeting on title `Match Making for Women Entrepreneurs to Facilitate Market Linkage and Outsourcing` was organized. In order to introduce products of the new women entrepreneurs to the established women buyers an exhibition was arranged in a limited scope. As a result of the program there were created a primary understanding among 50 buyers and suppliers in order to establish commercial relationship. 60 participants consisting of potential, new and established women entrepreneurs, proprietors of the renounced fashion houses in the country and journalists attended the program. Ms. Monowara Hakim Ali, President of CWCCI and Member of the Board of Directors of SME Foundation attended the program as Chief Guest.

Oriented Women Entrepreneurs to the Sustainable Technology

In order to encourage the women entrepreneurs to use suitable and sustainable technologies SME Foundation with the support of Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR) has organized a seminar on 29 March 2011 at the conference room of BCSIR. In the seminar 40 scientists of BCSIR presented 11 process technologies to the 50 women entrepreneurs. As the result of the seminar women entrepreneurs were encouraged to use suitable and sustainable technologies for starting new business, increasing productivity of running business, and creating new employment opportunities. The Chairperson of SME Foundation attended the seminar as Chief Guest. Professor S. M. Emamul Haque, Chairman of BCSIR presided over the seminar where Syed Rezwanul Kabir, Managing Director of SME Foundation gives welcome speech. Among other Deputy General Manager of SME Foudnation Dr. Nurul Quadir attended the seminar.

Gender Sensitization for the Bankers

SME Foundation in association with Bangladesh Bank has organized “Gender Sensitizing Training for the Bankers” on 28 September 2011 at Bangladesh Bank, Rajshahi. The objective of the program was to establish a bridge among the women entrepreneurs and the bankers for smoothing the credit flow to the women entrepreneurs. Deputy General Manager of SME Foundation Dr. Nurul Quadir presided over the program where Mr. Sukamal Singha Chowdhury, General Manager, SME and Special Programs Department of Bangladesh Bank attended as the Chief Guest. Mr. Ashraful Alam, Deputy General Manager of Bangladesh Bank Rajshahi Brach attended the program as Special Guest. 25 bankers from different commercial banks and 50 women entrepreneurs of Rajshahi region participated the training.

Training on Natural Dying

Indiscriminate use of chemical colour and damaging the ecology indicate that current forms of industrial production systems are not sustainable for the long term. Realizing the future production threat and demand of natural dying in local and international market women entrepreneurs approached to SME Foundation to find the alternative solution. In response to their demand, SME Foundation organized training on Vegetable Dyeing for the Women Entrepreneurs. Among the members of different women associations and individual women entrepreneurs 25 were trained. As a result of training participants gathered advanced knowledge on dyeing through using eco-friendly natural dying materials. The said training is playing a significant role on quality improvement, reducing production cost, market expansion, increase productivity and generate new employment.

SME Women Entrepreneurs Directory

Research findings shows that there is a lack of available and organized information of SME women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh. Against this backdrop, there is a felt demand for a publication/database containing information on women entrepreneurs. To meet this demand SME Foundation primarily published a database consisting of the information collected form various sources. In this database information about 3,500 women entrepreneurs in 11 booster sectors are published in the Directory. All the information are collected from the women trade associations, banks, non-bank financial institutions, district chambers of industries, district and divisional commissioner office, and also from the individual entrepreneurs.

Encouraging Young Entrepreneurship

SME Foundation with the support of Ministry of Youth and Sports and Commonwealth Youth Program Asia Centre has organized a three days long national consultation, titled “National Consultation on Investing in Youth Employment with a Focus on Youth Employment and Entrepreneurs” on 07-09 June 2011 at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel, Dhaka. The major objective of the consultation was to create opportunities for youth employment through entrepreneurship development.

In this three days long consultation 35 number people from public and private sectors including different ministries, youth entrepreneurs, leaders from youth associations, academicians, NGOs, international organizations, and also representatives from financial institutions were attended as participant. In the consultation about 25 specialists from different sectors share their opinion and experiences on the related issues with the participants. The participants and the specialists of the consultation discussed elaborately on how to provide policy supports to the government on youth entrepreneurship development. In those sessions the participants and the specialists considered the international and regional conditions, replicable practices, impediments and strategies to face the impediments on youth entrepreneurship development. Based on the discussions and recommendations of the consultation Commonwealth Secretariat prepared a report on development of youth enterprise and entrepreneurship in Bangladesh. SME Foundation sent the report to different public and private organizations with a request to take actions for youth entrepreneurship development from their own stands. Mr. Dilip Barua, Minister, Ministry of Industries attended the program as Chief Guest when Mr. Ahad Ali Sarkar, State Minister, Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Chairperson of SME Foundation attended the ceremony as Special Guests.

Women Entrepreneurs Trained on Bankable Project Proposal Preparation

Bank and non-bank financial institutions are offering various credit schemes for the women entrepreneurs. But in most of the cases women entrepreneurs are not capable to prepare and submit loan proposal properly. This is a major hindrance for them to get institutional credit facilities. In order to overcome this problem and making the women entrepreneurs capable for preparing and submitting loan proposal SME Foundation is organizing training for the women entrepreneurs on “Preparing Bankable Project Proposal”. As a part of this program one training on this topic was organized in Sylhet on 19-21 March, 2012. From the different trade associations 26 women entrepreneurs were trained on how to prepare a bankable project proposal. Senior officials of bank and non-bank financial institutions and professional trainer were engaged to train the participants.

Women Entrepreneurs Facilitated on New Business Start-up

In order to create self-employment and supporting the potential women to become entrepreneurs SME Foundation is providing advisory and various technical supports. Under these programs the Foundation is organizing training on “How to Start a New Business”. Primarily this training program is designed to be arranged on each of the divisional cities of the country. The six days long training for the Dhaka division was arranged on 22-25 and 27-28 March, 2012 at the conference room of SME Foundation. 27 women comprising of house wives, students, new entrepreneurs and service holders were attended the training. The participants were trained on business analysis, assets management, marketing planning, production planning, business management and financial planning for new business start-up. In the certificate awarding ceremony of this training Syed Rezwanul Kabir, Managing Director of SME Foundation said that the Foundation will continue its related supports to the participants.

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