Monday, August 31, 2015

BWCCI is providing Training of Trainers (ToT) to women SME Cluster Leaders on banana and pineapple fiber production under EU and Govt. Of The People's Republic Bangladesh funded program- INSPIRED.

BWCCI is providing Training of Trainers (ToT) to women SME Cluster Leaders on banana and pineapple fiber production under EU and Govt. Of The People's Republic Bangladesh funded program- INSPIRED. Training started from 18th August 2015, at the Centre for Human Resources Development at BURO Bangladesh Tangail Office. BWCCI has been implementing this project to build capacity of 2000 women entrepreneurs for producing handicrafts, hand looms etc. from banana and pineapple fiber, thus to reduce poverty and empower women. A technical team comprised of textile and mechanical engineers, product designer are engaged to facilitate the sessions along with the Technical Adviser and Project Coordinator.
BWCCI is going to organize another ToT from 23rd August 2015 for 4 days where more 25 SME cluster leaders from Gaibandha and Modhupur, Tangail will participate in the course.Trained cluster leaders will further provide training to 2000 women entrepreneurs.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

BWCCI demands a women friendly environment in all borders to increase the cross border trade for women entrepreneurs

BWCCI  organized a national seminar on 9th June 2015, in cooperation with The Asia Foundation and South Asia Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium under the project “Promoting Women Entrepreneurship through Improving Regional Cooperation”. The Seminar was held with the presence of the Chief guest Honorable Minister H.E. Mr. Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, MP, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Mr. Abdul Matlub Ahmad, President of FBCCI as special guest, Mr. Hasan M Mazumdar, Country representative, The Asia Foundation as the guest of honor, Mr. Bijay Selvaraj, First Secretary, the Indian High Commission to Bangladesh, H.E. Aum Pema Choden, Ambassador of Bhutan Embassy Dhaka, Ms. Farah Farooq, Commercial Counselor, High Commission of Pakistan, Country Representative of UNHCR as distinguished guests. Ms. Selima Ahmad, President of BWCCI chaired over the program. Various stakeholders including representatives from The Asia Foundation, USAID, UN Women,  Asian Development bank, UNFPA, different Banks, different national and international NGO’s, women activists, representatives from electronic and print media, general members and directors of BWCCI were also present in the event.

In her speech BWCCI President Ms. Selima Ahmad said that women entrepreneurs are the emerging group for business growth as well as contributor to national economy, It is essential to concentrate more to expedite implementation of women friendly policies to ensure access to cross border trade addressing access to markets, strengthening cross border networking among business and trade associations for market information and product information and increasing capacity building opportunities related to business skills, access to finance and business promotion.

 She shared the main obstacles for cross border trade:
  • Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) has fixed to carry products equivalent to US$ 500 while attending cross border fairs which is not at all sufficient amount,
  • EPB provides a letter of certification to women entrepreneurs which have no importance to the customs officers.
  • There are some syndicate who are leading the corruption in borderpoor infrastructure at borders and ports
  • Custom officials routinely exert their power to influence the tariff value 

On behalf of all women entrepreneurs she demanded:
  • 50 % discount on stalls and pavilions for women entrepreneurs in DITF.
  • Establishment of a help desk and a Focal person for women entrepreneurs at both sides of borders.
  • Improvement in customs inspection, assessment and control procedures.
  • Computerization and automation of trade procedures.
  • Timely publication and dissemination of Information on custom rules, import and export regulation to women entrepreneurs.
  • Simplification of custom’s documentation. 
  • Capacity building in Ports and Customs

BWCCI’s members also shared that they are continuously facing harassment and trouble for crossing the border. In spite of having legal and authorized documents, legal letter from EPB, invoices for products, they are also facing problems and harassments. They have to give bribe in every step in both side border. 

Mr. Abdul Matlub Ahmad, President, FBCCI, Special Guest of the event praised the BWCCI’s initiatives on cross border trade. He stated that regional connectivity and networking is very important to increase the cross border trade. He also added that visa problem need to be reduce to increase the cross border trade. He demanded to provide 5 years multiple visas from Indian High Commission to Bangladesh for women entrepreneurs. He assured that from now they will confirm the women entrepreneurs’ participation in their business delegation team by FBCCI. 

Speaking as the chief guest Honorable Minister H.E. Mr. Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, MP, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, said that BWCCI has taken a very good initiative which is a burning issue for women entrepreneurs whom are related to foreign trade. He specially requested to the representative of Indian High Commission and FBCCI to take rapid action to reduce the obstacles which women entrepreneurs are facing during cross border trade.  He also suggested submitting the challenges and obstacles of the borders in written form to the EPB and the ministry of foreign affairs so that they can sit together with BWCCI to reduce the challenges for women entrepreneurs. He requested to the representative from Indian High Commission to take necessary initiative to assign female Customs Officer at their border. He committed that 30% woman entrepreneur’s participation in the business delegation team will be assured by 2021.

Mr. Bijay Selvaraj, First Secretary, the Indian High Commission to Bangladesh said that they will take care of the dissimilarities in the border at Indian side. They will assign Female Custom Officer at their border for the women entrepreneurs. They are now processing 1 year multiple visa for business purpose.

BWCCI organized an award giving ceremony on 10th June 2015, entitled “BWCCI Progressive Award 2014” in cooperation with Grameenphone Limited

Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BWCCI) organized an award giving ceremony on 10th June 2015, entitled “BWCCI Progressive Award 2014” in cooperation with Grameenphone Limited  at Krishibid Institution Bangladesh, KIB auditoriam, Dhaka. The program was held with the presence of Mr.Tofael Ahmed, Honorable Minister, Ministry of Commerce, and Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh as chief guest. Mr.Abdul Matlub Ahmad, President,FBCCI as special guest and Mr. Mahmood Hossain, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer participated at the event as guests of honor. Ms. Selima Ahmad, president of Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce & Industry chaired the program while Ms. Sangita Ahmed, former president of Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce & Industry, senior vice president and convener of this award program Ms. Munmun Rahman also were present.
In addition to this, 500 women entrepreneurs from all over the country, donor representatives, bank personnel, media representatives, civil society people and directors of BWCCI Board were also present in the program.
This year 7 women entrepreneurs from 7 divisions who are also BWCCI members are awarded for their significant achievement in business; they were Maksuda  Khatun from Barisal division, Nurun Nahar from Chittagong division, Shahida Parvin from Dhaka division,  Kaniz Sultana from Khulna division, Asma-Ul-Husna from Rangpur division, Mst. Hosna Begum from Rajshahi division and Reshma Sharmin Juthi from Sylhet division. With them, 2 media representatives also received award this year for their contributions towards women entrepreneurship development in the country who are –Sima Bhowmik, Staff Reporter from Jamuna Television in electronic media category and Kamrun Nahar, staff reporter from the Financial Express in print media category. Honorable industries minister Mr. Tofael Ahmed handed over the awards to the winners which included a trophy, a certificate and prize money of Tk 25,000.
Giving her speech BWCCI’s President Ms. Selima Ahmad said that half of the country’s population is women who are contributing significantly to the whole development; but they are also the main victims of violence and discriminations in the society. She said though despite all hurdles number of women entrepreneurs is increasing but they are failing to move forward due to proper financial and policy support. She requested the Government to give 50% discount on stalls in Dhaka International Trade Fairs to women entrepreneurs. She also said that women development policy of Bangladesh is an example to others in the world. She demanded to arrange ICT trainings for 5000 women per year which will help our women to be more successful in their businesses. She also requested to include women entrepreneurs in business delegation.

Congratulating all the winners, commerce minister said that women as entrepreneurs have established their position in the areas of women development. Mentioning that BWCCI’s initiative to inspire women entrepreneurs through progressive award is indeed praiseworthy, he said that BWCCI is making great contribution in bringing women economic empowerment in the country. He said to discount 50% on stall/pavilion fee in DITF for women entrepreneurs, He mentioned that ICT trainings should be provided to women entrepreneurs. He also informed that by 2021 33% member of parliament will be women.
Special guest Mr.Abdul Matlub Ahmad, President, FBCCI and Chairman of Nitol Niloy Group assured in his speech to help BWCCI in all respects. Along with Mr. Mahmood Hossain, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Grameenphone Ltd and BWCCI board members  also delivered their valuable speeches and committed to continue their support in promoting women entrepreneurship.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

"Women have a responsibility to both their family and their business. Find the balance" - Ayesha Edib Khanom

In February 2003, Ayesha Edib Khanom’s life changed forever. Her husband, who served as a Major in Bangladesh Army suffered from a massive heart attack and subsequently retired from his service in mid-2004. Ayesha was a loving wife and mother to two young girls at the time, who was then left with the daunting task of finding work to produce an income for her family. This is her story. 

Although Ayesha came from a well educated family, she had spent the last 17 years as a dedicated housewife and had very little knowledge of business outside the home. For many women in this position, the thought of becoming an entrepreneur would seem impossible, but for Ayesha, it was her only option of ensuring a good life for her and her family. When asked whether Ayesha was apprehensive about starting her own business, she recalled the overwhelming fear of what would happen to her family if she didn’t and explained that people will do extraordinary things when faced with limited opportunities. 

Ayesha was very resourceful when starting her first business. She used the contacts she made as an army wife, found a gap in the industry, and became a general supplier to the Bangladesh Army. Her first business came out of necessity to provide for her family. However, once she got a taste of life as an entrepreneur, she never looked back. In 2012, Ayesha started Unique Catering Service and the following year, moved into both the construction and garment export business. 

Becoming a female entrepreneur in Bangladesh is not an easy task. Not only do women have to succeed in the business world and set the precedent for future businesswomen, but also ensure their family life does not suffer the consequence. Ayesha believes that the challenge for many working women is finding that right balance between her family and business. She noted that women should be willing to treat their business as having a second family and be willing to devote an equal amount of care and attention. 

Ayesha had great insight into the differences on the social and economic situation between women in rural and urban settings, explaining that there cannot be a one-size-fits-all business model for women across the country. She went on to identify possible strategic plans to advance both the urban and rural entrepreneur, believing that women running businesses in urban settings require higher education and proper training in technology, in order to advance their SMEs into larger international companies. As for female entrepreneurs in rural areas, Ayesha emphasized a need to develop not only the economic situation, but also improve the social mindset of women by helping them understand their rights. As well as include training that increases women’s confidence and motivation to succeed in business. 

Ayesha is incredibly positive when looking to the future of women in Bangladesh. She understands how important entrepreneurs are to the development of the economy and also appreciates the impact NGOs have had on the country, especially in the rural areas. She went on to say that she believes in the next fifty years, women in Bangladesh will be empowered and there won’t be a difference between a woman in this country compared to the most independent woman anywhere else in the world. Furthermore, she acknowledged the role Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BWCCI) has had in the transformation of women entrepreneurs in the country. She understood that businesswomen in Bangladesh face an array of difficulties on a daily basis and appreciated the support and advice offered by the chamber, as well as the networking opportunities offered to each of the members. 

When asked where Ayesha gained her strength to become an independent successful business woman, she simply replied, “I understand that nothing is given in life – you have to earn it and I have faith that God is with me to go it alone”. What’s remarkable about Ayesha and so many other women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh is that she didn’t allow her misfortune to dictate her life. Rather, she learned from her hardships and used it to completely transform her life. Ayesha is truly an astonishing woman and BWCCI is proud to have her as one of our members.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” – Alice Walker

There is no denying that the gender gap between men and women has diminished throughout history. We are no longer worlds apart, yet we are still oceans away. Whether it was granted or stolen, women have worked hard for the rights and freedoms they enjoy today. In 2013, women are beginning to see a world with fresh eyes; a world where they can voice an opinion, choose to work, and have a right to vote. It is bittersweet to rejoice in the freedoms we have today, since these are freedoms that should have never been denied in the first place. When looking back on how far we’ve come, don’t forget to look to the future to ensure our struggle will be carried out by generations to come. Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BWCCI) is comprised of over 3000 members who are doing just that. Despite the individual hardships each member has faced on her journey to becoming an entrepreneur in Bangladesh, they have collectively joined together to form the country’s first Chamber of Commerce exclusively working on women’s economic and social empowerment. 

The number of women represented in the labor force is rising around the world. We must now find ways to enhance their skills and talents to ensure a woman’s ability to increase her income and ultimately experience economic independence. BWCCI has been dedicated to providing women entrepreneurs across the country with opportunities to take part in capacity building training workshops, as well as tirelessly working to find ways to reduce the difficulty women entrepreneurs experience in accessing loans. One of BWCCI’s greatest achievements this year was the successful completion of the project “Promoting Women Entrepreneurship in Bangladesh”, which trained over 900 women entrepreneurs across the country in partnership with the Bangladesh Bank and Asian Development Bank. The project initiatives included the implementation of a refinancing scheme,  the attempt to involve financial institutes in the SME sector, a priority to complete women entrepreneurs’ collateral free loan applications, incorporating a Women Dedicated Desk in scheduled banks and PFIs, and reducing interest rates to as little as 10% for women entrepreneurs.  

BWCCI believes that by continuing to mobilize and empower women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh, it can mold them into economic agents with the power to change the country. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

BWCCI hails allocation of 100 cr. taka for women entrepreneurs in national budget 2012-13

Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BWCCI) congratulates the Government and the Finance Minister for allocating 100 crores taka as grant for women entrepreneurs in the national budget 2012-13. We believe the proposed budget for the fiscal year 2012-13 announced by the Honorable Finance Minister on 7 June, 2012 at the parliament will accelerate the development of our country. The endeavor taken by the Govt. as per the proposal of BWCCI has made us more hopeful as an organization representing women entrepreneurs. We believe that women will be more empowered and women entrepreneurs will contribute more to the overall development initiative of the country.

In addition to allocating 100 crores taka, Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce & Industry recommends the followings also to be incorporated in the revised budget 2012-13:

 - Introducing tax-free income limit to Tk. 3,000,000 for women
 -15% reserved quota in the Equity and Entrepreneurship Fund (EEF)
 - Introducing separate Women entrepreneurship development policy
 - Reserved quota in economic zone and industrial parks for women entrepreneurs

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tk 10cr for climate-hit micro women entrepreneurs urged by BWCCI Chief

Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BWCCI) has demanded an allocation of Tk 10 crore for micro women entrepreneurs in disaster prone areas. BWCCI President Selima Ahmad at a seminar on 22 March 2012, Thursday said at the city's CIRDAP auditorium that due to climate change, women and children are the most affected so initiatives should be taken by the government to take more projects where women entrepreneurship can be explored and undertake projects to build their climate resilient capacities, create market linkages for them so that they can continue their economic activities by adapting climate change. BWCCI in cooperation with Foreign and Commonwealth, UK organized the seminar under the title of ’’Climate Resilient Initiatives for Rural Women Entrepreneurs'. 

Environment and Forests Minister Dr. Hasan Mahmud MP was the chief guest of the seminar while Selima Ahmad was in the chair. Various stakeholders working for women development including representatives from NGO's, women activists, journalists, general members and directors of BWCCI participated in the event.

Dr. Hasan said that Bangladesh is the first country to take a comprehensive strategy and action plan for climate change. He said that to fight with climate change proper understanding of the political leaders, proper understanding of CSOs, proper understanding of Women and children are extremely needed. He appreciated BWCCI’s initiative saying that this organization has actually gone out to the affected areas and extended their support to the vulnerable women groups there. He ensured his support to BWCCI’s climate resilient initiatives.

Selima Ahmad requested all to work towards integrating those measures into development cooperation climate projects that go beyond direct climate related aspects.