Emphasizing on the efforts for providing market linkage support to women, former governor of Bangladesh Bank Dr Atiur Rahman said, “Bangladesh has remarkable achievements regarding ensuring financial inclusion of women as well as promotion of women entrepreneurs, especially women small and medium enterprises.”
He made the remarks while speaking at the closing session of a dialogue on ‘Re-Imagining Sustain-able Pathways for Wom-en’s Economic Empower-ment in Rural Bangla-desh.’ The event was jointly organized by iDE and the Asia Foundation on the occasion of launching a project titled “Women’s Economic Empowerment through Strengthening Market Systems (WEESMS)”, which is funded by Swedish International Develo-pment Coordination Agency (Sida) and implemented through a partnership between iDE and the Asia Foundation. The event was inaugurated by Swedish Ambass-ador to Bangladesh Charlotta Schytler. Country Director of iDE Bangladesh Deepak Dhoj Khadka and Country Representative of The Asia Foundation Sara L Taylor presented overview of the WEESMS project. President of Bangladesh Federation of Women Entrepreneurs Rokyia Afzal Rahman, Entrepreneur of Co-Owner of Dhaka Dough Shamima Akhter, Simeen Mahmud and Disting-uished Fellow of CPD Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya participated as panel discussants. In his remarks, Dr Atiur pointed out that the central bank of the country with due support from the government has ensured adequate support from the commercial banks for the women MSMEs. Conseq-uently, 10 percent of the total loans to MSMEs are going to women, there are dedicated help desks for women in every bank branch, and credit disbursed to women MSMEs has more than doubled in between 2011 and 2016. He added that there are numerous challenges still present in promoting women MSMEs in Bangladesh including lack of capital, socio-cultural barriers, business formalities, lack of financial literacy and absence of suitable products.
ICT based solutions need to be utilized to address such challenges. Initiatives to economically empower women may use opportunities digital financial service innovations such as agent banking and mobile financial service, he added.