BUILD’s initiative to harmonise terminology around women entrepreneurs

Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD) organised a virtual discussion programme on Tuesday to discuss a clear and universally agreed-upon definition of women-owned and women-led businesses in the country.

BUILD and International Trade Centre (ITC)–SheTrades Programme, in collaboration with Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI), decided to work together to develop and adopt the globally recognised ISO standard definition of Women Entrepreneurship in Bangladesh, said a press release.

At the session, Ferdaus Ara Begum, CEO of BUILD, said women entrepreneurs are deprived of fair opportunities and scope despite their contribution to the economy. One of the main reasons for this is the lack of gender-disaggregated data in our country.  

Adopting a global definition can allow women entrepreneurs (WEs) to be integrated with international business and exploit the benefits of policies announced by the government. She added.

She also highlighted the importance of adopting the ISO standard global definition. She illuminated that collecting sex-disaggregated data at the national level could help evidence-based policymaking and international comparison.

WEs could also get access to public procurement, the CEO added.

Edison Yap, associate economic affairs officer of SheTrades Initiative of International Trade Centre, informed that the sector has been suffering from policy support because of the non-existence of harmonised global definition of women entrepreneurs.

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ITC, ISO and others have prepared four WE definitions to ensure institutional recognition of their economic activities, said this officer.

Adopting and integrating the ISO IWA 34:2021 standard of WEs definition in Bangladesh will make the segmented entrepreneurs eligible to avail of policy and monetary assistance.

Countries should set the definition by considering the nation’s business environment and the demand of the women entrepreneurs’ community, Edison said.

Meanwhile, Selima Ahmad MP said the Bangladesh Bank and the Ministry of Industries had provided definitions of women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh. “We need to consider the term women-owned business and the percentage of ownership while setting up the definition.”

She assured to provide every possible support from the end of Parliament to formulate a globally recognised and harmonised definition of WEs.

At the same time, Md Salim Ullah, senior assistant secretary of Ministry of Industries, said the Ministry includes a dedicated chapter regarding women entrepreneurs in the draft of the National Industrial Policy-2022. He requested to send the outcomes of the session to MoI so that they would be able to accommodate the remarks in the draft policy, which is going to be finalised very soon.

Along with Selima Ahmad MP and BWCCI President, Representatives of the Ministry of Industries, several Chamber Presidents, and women entrepreneurs joined the virtual programme to share their views on the subject issue.


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