A roundtable discussion (RTD) on Strengthening Market Access for Women Business Owners took place at the office of Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD) on January 22nd, 2018. The event discussed how Women Business Enterprises (WBE) in Bangladesh can be connected with the buyers around the world who procures goods of trillions of dollars each year.
WEConnect International is implementing this pilot initiative, funded by World Bank Group's Bangladesh Investment Climate Fund II umbrella program.
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Today, only 1 percent of large corporate and government spend worldwide goes to WBEs.
Ms. Elizabeth Vazquez, CEO and Co-Founder of WEConnect International, elaborated the role of her organization to connect women-owned business enterprises throughout the world. The member buyers spend $ 3 billion with women suppliers annually and there is a proprietary e-Network with over 7,000 WBEs based in 100 countries.
"This is an innovative approach to support women-owned and led businesses to grow in their value chain and link with corporate buyers for products and services," Ms. Hosna Ferdous Sumi, Private Sector Specialist of the World Bank Group told the discussion.
A presentation on Women Entrepreneurs (WEs) was made by CEO, BUILD, Ferdaus Ara Begum elaborated the scenario of WBEs in Bangladesh. She said that about only 10% of SME entrepreneurship is owned by women in comparison with 25% in the world WBEs are facing several hurdles in manufacturing their products.
Razib Ahmed, former President of E-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (E-CAB), said: "Women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh face barriers in three ways: language barrier, compliance and quality assurance."
Ms. Rojina Akter Mustafi, Representative of Bangladesh Bank, informed several supportive policies taken by Bangladesh Bank to help the women entrepreneurs.
Women entrepreneurs who are in business in different sectors such as jute manufacturing, leather products, handicraft, fashion products and in the service sector such as healthcare, restaurant, ICT and many others joined the RTD. They raised their issues and informed that their main problem is to get updated information on rules and regulations, financing and cost for meeting regulatory requirements.
From the World Bank Group, Ms. Noa Gimelli and Ms. Anja Robakowski attended the event. From WEConnect International, the Project Director, Ms. Kristy Becerra and Ms. Shamarukh Mohiuddin were also present.