Empowering Women in Bangladesh
Women are pushing for representation in many fields, including education, technology, architecture, fashion, health care, journalism and sports. Every year, an increasing number of female entrepreneurs enter the market and significantly contribute to the global economy. Women’s enterprises in Bangladesh are gradually developing to have a similar stream of development potential. However, women in entrepreneurship are not as prevalent in Bangladesh, where women own just 7.2% of all businesses.

Nevertheless, the situation is slowly evolving, and more Bangladeshi women are entering the corporate sphere as leaders, opening the path for thousands of others by motivating and mentoring them. One of the recent highlights of this development was the Women Entrepreneurship Training Program by BRAC University, called Venture Maestras. The initiative aims to promote gender equality and empower women entrepreneurs, in line with the U.N.’s fifth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG). The Venture Maestras Program gives theoretical underpinnings and techniques for tackling business challenges that women encounter and a practical understanding of the real-world market. Here are more details about how Venture Maestras is empowering women in Bangladesh.

The Program’s Mission

This program’s purpose is to make significant contributions to empowering women in Bangladesh. Additionally, the future vision is to achieve gender equality and sustainable, long-term prosperity for the nation and its global status. Venture Maestras has three core objectives. Firstly, it is empowering women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh by offering information, skills and training to enrich their competence. It also works on providing continuous support services for various projects that participants undertake and doing research to promote gender equality and the long-term well-being of all Bangladeshis. Moreover, the program focuses on creating awareness of opportunities in business fields and motivating women to engage in such activities.

A Vision Beyond the Program Itself

Bringing awareness and equality in a closed-door room does not help much when it concerns the entire nation. It takes tremendous effort to grow the network to a size where it is able to spread the word to every corner of the country. As a result, the program works on building an effective network between established women entrepreneurs, which helps the women share their knowledge and aid. Secondly, it includes significant research and case studies on economic and social issues that affect many women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh. These studies help innovate business ideas and bring solutions to decades-old problems. Finally, all the connections with public, private and non-government organizations help to reach a broader audience.

How the Program is Managed

The pilot program starts with an orientation where the participants can engage in discussions with successful female entrepreneurs. Subsequent sessions cover the business canvas model and entrepreneurial skills, including HR management, digital marketing and many legal aspects. The program also includes loan and financial management lessons. At the end of the program, participants present their business proposals to a panel of experts for evaluation. The program doe not include any special requirements other than a high school level education and the intention to start or manage one’s own enterprises. After the program ends, the top three finalists receive 100,000 BDT as an award, which is roughly $1,000 USD.

According to the BRAC Business School, the participants greatly benefited from the program’s offerings. According to the survey, entrepreneurs found some training sessions more effective than others, with training in the business canvas model, marketing and digital marketing being the top choices. Without entrepreneurial support, the country will fail to see any industrial breakthrough – even when there is technical progress. However, with these kinds of programs and training, Bangladesh can become a strong participant in the global market.

– Zahin Tasnin
Photo: Flickr