US Ambassador in Dhaka Peter Haas today said Bangladesh is "uniquely positioned" in Asia to transition into an urban industrial and middle-income country through harnessing new entrepreneur ideas as well as investing in women's professional development.
"As Bangladesh graduates from Least Developed Country status and employs a huge women workforce in the ready-made garments sector, much remains to be done for women to have leadership roles," he said.
The envoy was addressing the orientation event of "The Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE)" supported by US embassy here with the funding of the US State Department collaboration with BRAC university at EMK centre in Dhanmondi here.
Haas said that growing and sustaining the entrepreneurship sector is key to continued economic growth in Bangladesh while the country needs entrepreneurs to come up with new ideas to help diversify and advance the economy.
"There is no better time to invest in the professional development of women and girls who continue to persist and defy all odds in entrepreneurial ventures, an area historically predominated by men." He said.
Hass said it is the collective responsibility of all to identify, address, and eliminate barriers preventing women and girls from achieving their dreams.
"As we celebrate the 50 years of US-Bangladesh relations, we see Bangladesh as a country with huge potential and growth with a workforce that is young and increasingly well educated," he said.
The envoy said that the investment in women must be inclusive and diverse to get the full fruit out of it while more than half of Bangladesh's 165 million people are women.
Under the AWE, a total of 50 Bangladeshi women entrepreneurs will be imparted knowledge, networks, and access they need to launch and scale successful businesses.
The US embassy selected 50 women from 1600 applicants, representing different ethnicities, religions and sexual identities.
Haas hoped that the participant will make great use of the training opportunities, and pave the way many more women on business to come.
The AWE program directly supports the "US National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality" promoting women's economic opportunities and ensuring that women have the capabilities and resources needed to participate in the economy.
Through AWE, participants learn core business skills, then get together as a class to discuss the material with experienced implementers, local mentors, and US Exchange Alumni.
The AWE harnesses the power of public-private sponsors, local partnerships, and US Exchange Alumni networks to help women and their businesses grow.
A 2021 evaluation of the program showed that 74 percent of women who complete the AWE program across the globe increase their business earnings and 29 percent hire more staff.
By giving women the tools and the confidence they need, the AWE program is generating income and creating jobs in women-led businesses, driving local prosperity in more than 80 countries worldwide.