Across Borders: A Snapshot of Women Entrepreneurship in Bangladesh

During Sadya Rahman’s (see previous post to meet our exchange intern from Bangladesh) internship with us, we became increasingly interested in the issues women entrepreneurs face in Bangladesh.  Some of the facts we found are detailed below.  If you’d like to learn more about female entrepreneurship in Bangladesh, this link is a great place to start:  http://www.cipe.org/regional/southasia/pdf/SituationAnalysis.pdf

Social Barriers

Because Bangladesh is a patriarchal society, women face an unceasing struggle for equality—both public and private.  Abdul Alim  states, “within the household and beyond it, men exercise control over women’s labor, their sexuality, their choice of spouse, their access to labor and other markets, and their income and assets through local decision-making and legal bodies” ₁. Often times, institutions and state legislation support this gender subordination despite the constitutional affirmations of gender equality. Researchers also note that entrepreneurial women are still expected to handle a majority of traditional domestic roles—even if they are married. This tends to create a double-workload for woman entrepreneurs.

 (1) Development in Practice; May2009, Vol. 19 Issue 3, p300-310, 11p, 4 Charts, 1 Graph

Financial Barriers

Stemming from the social barriers in Bangladesh, women often face financial and logistical challenges in business. Most do not have proper information regarding trade license and company registration, are unable to get access to various facilities of public and private institutions, and struggle earning loans from the Bangladesh Bank to start their businesses. The poverty, frequent natural disasters, and population density also make it difficult for businesses to thrive.

 Capacity Building

Even if women obtain the resources to start a business, they often lack the tools— such as marketing, production and design, finance, bookkeeping, and e-commerce—to maintain and grow their business. 

Types of women-owned businesses in Bangladesh

  • Boutique clothing shops
  • Gardening
  • Livestock Training
  • Fisheries
  • Homemade food
  • Beauty Parlors
  • Tailors
  • Carpet businesses
  • Printing

Educational Level

A study conducted by the BWCCI indicates that

  • 10.9% have post graduation degree
  • 16.8% are graduates
  • 26.7% have higher secondary education
  • 34.7% have secondary school level education
  • 6.9% have minimum primary education.
  • 4% of entrepreneurs interviewed have no formal education.

 Top Four Motivational Factors Influencing Bangladeshi Women to Enter Business

  • Inspiration from family/family had business
  • To create self dependency
  • Self Inspiration
  • Extra Income for the family

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