Women entrepreneurship development in Bangladesh

Manika Chakraborty Assistant Professor, Department of Management, University of Dhaka

Manika Chakraborty
Assistant Professor, Department of Management, University of Dhaka

Entrepreneurial culture is a key pre-requisite for economic well being of a country. Expanding the level of entrepreneurial activity within all nations is an increasingly important political and economic goal, especially for developing countries (Levenburg, and Schwarz, 2008). The stable economic success of a country, in the largest degree, depends on the entrepreneurial culture that nourishes proper entrepreneurial environment wherein entrepreneurs can use their potentiality to the fullest extent.

Entrepreneurial environment is a combination of factors that plays a role in the development of entrepreneurship. First, it refers to the overall economic, socio-cultural, and political factors that influence people’s willingness and ability to undertake entrepreneurial activities. Second, it refers to the availability of assistance and support services that facilitate the start-up process (Fogel and Daniel, 1994). Factors such as availability of financial resources, large size urban areas, and presence of universities for training and research are found to be very important to increase the rate of new venture creation (Pennings, 1982).

It could be mentioned here that in 2011, 49.50% of population of Bangladesh is women (World Bank report, 2012). So development of women entrepreneurship demands more importance in the present situation in Bangladesh. Further Bangladesh Government has set a vision titled Vision 2021 to free Bangladesh from its current state of crisis and building a country whose citizens are able to live prosperous and happy lives. Considering the existing political-socio-economic crisis, five subjects have been given priority. These are Maintenance of Economic Stability and Control over Commodity Price Hike, Effective Action against Corruption, Economic Usage of Power and Energy, Elimination of Poverty and Inequity, Establishment of Good Governance. The main strategy of poverty reduction will center on bringing vibrancy in agriculture and rural life. Social safety net will be extended for the ultra-poor. By 2013 poverty level and proportion of ultra-poor will be brought down to 25% and 15% respectively. At present there are 65 million poor people in the country. This number will be reduced to 45 million by 2013 and will further come down to 22 million in 2021. The number of unemployed people in the country, estimated at 28 million, will be reduced to 24 million by 2013 and will be further reduced to 15 million by 2021 (Election Manifesto, 2008).To achieve these targets, development of women entrepreneurship with other development program is needed.

The term Women Entrepreneur refers to a woman who is running her own or family own business. Women Entrepreneurs have to face several problems in many developing Countries and Bangladesh is not exception. The Lack of Access to information especially information relating to Business and Technology poses a major hindrance in the progress of women owned enterprises in Bangladesh. Women, in Bangladesh, have limited access to technology and information, which leads to many problems. Their access to information is mainly limited because of the restraint on their mobility and communication due to socio-cultural factors. Lack of access to information hinders women entrepreneurs in many ways. A new start-up is never an easy job and it is made more difficult when access to information regarding laws and regulations is limited. Also women entrepreneurs, due to their limited resources and limited accessibility usually do not have information about supplies; middles men and lack know how about working out the feasibility of their start-ups. The lack of access to information and technology also leads to certain marketing problems, such as packaging and designing. With better access to business and technical information women entrepreneurs could also avail the opportunity of marketing and selling through the World Wide Web.

Characteristics of Women Entrepreneurs in Bangladesh
Bangladeshi women of today have taken many strides towards business ownership. The broad classification of women business owners include women who establish, inherit, or acquire a business; women who start businesses with spouses or business partners but are either at the forefront or behind the scenes; and finally, women who start fast-growing or part-time or slow-growing firms. Although earlier researches on women entrepreneurs have suggested that significant differences existed between female and male entrepreneurs.

However, more recent studies have shown that there are far more similarities than differences between women and men entrepreneurs in terms of psychological and demographic characteristics. The dominant predictors of success in case of women entrepreneurs are work experience and years of self-employment. The majority of women business owners operate enterprises in the service sectors, whereas the majority of male business owners operate enterprises in non service sectors, particularly manufacturing. Women are not only achieving economic independence and wealth creation for themselves, but through job creation, they are also providing opportunities for others, particularly for other women.
Needs of Women Entrepreneurs in Bangladesh
i) More and better access to finance/credit is mentioned very frequently. ii) Access to business support and information, including better integration of business services.iii) Training on business issues and related issues. iv) Better access to local and foreign markets) Day care centers & nurseries for children, and also for the elderly; vi) Positive image-building and change in mentality amongst women, whereby women see themselves as capable achievers and build up confidence.vii) Breaking through traditional patrons and structures that inhibit women’s advancement. viii) Role modeling of women in non-traditional business sectors to break through traditional views on men’s and women’s sectors. ix) More involvement and participation in legislation and decision-making processes. x) Removing of any legislation which impedes women’s free engagement. xi) Awareness-raising at the governmental as well as private level to truly and really create entrepreneurial opportunities and not just programs that stay on paper.

Economic Policy Paper on Women Entrepreneurs in Bangladesh (http ://www. dhakachamber.com/cipe/ EP P -WED .htm) regarding the entrepreneurship status of the population shows that out of 46.8 percent self-employed citizen, women make only 8.3 percent. The situation is, however, in urban Bangladesh a little better. In urban area nearly 15.4 percent of the 36.7 percent self-employed people are women. But this situation has to be changed. Right efforts on from all areas are required in the development of women entrepreneurs and their greater participation in the entrepreneurial activities. So Developing women entrepreneurship development policy, proper communication of available supports (financial & non-financial), establishing information pool, creation of advisory committee, introducing positive entrepreneurial environment, development of separate bank, research facilities, providing IT training etc. are some of the ways of women entrepreneurship development.

Economic Policy Paper on Women Entrepreneurs in Bangladesh: available at http://www.dhakachamber.c om/cipe/EPP-WED.htm(accessed on June 26, 2008)

Election Manifesto by Bangladesh Awami League published in 2008.

Fogel, and Daniel S. (1994), “Environments for entrepreneurship development, Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice”, available at http://www. allbusiness.com/ management/475371-1.html(accessed on June 23, 2008)

Levenburg, N.M. and Schwarz, T. V. (2008), “Entrepreneurial Orientation among the Youth of
India: The Impact of Culture, Education and Environment”, The Journal of Entrepreneurship, New Delhi: May, Vol. 17, Iss. 1; pg. 15

Pennings, J. M. (1982),”Organi-zational birth frequencies: An empirical investigation”.
Administrative Science Quarterly, 27, 120-144.

World Bank Report-2012