Diligent women entrepreneurs in the country are working with innovative ideas to do business in various sectors but they are failing in most cases due to the inaccessibility of funds, said experts and leading female entrepreneurs at an event.
A majority of these female entrepreneurs do not know how to develop their ideas necessary to secure funds or loans from financiers, they said at the first-ever International Women Entrepreneurs' Summit 2022, organised jointly by the Bangladesh-India Business Council (BIBC) and the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (Bida) in the capital on Thursday.
The two-day summit began on Wednesday at the Radisson Blu Water Garden hotel aiming to facilitate networking between local and global entrepreneurs.
Timothy Tsui, chief executive officer of the Loki Group, said startups need to focus on three things to flourish their business plan: solid plans, market assessments, and potential products that have demand.
Managing Director of Orion Pharma Ltd, Zareen Karim, said, "The market size of the pharmaceutical industry is as big as $3.64 billion. After the RMG sector, the pharma sector will generate the highest revenues in the country. So, the scope is huge for women and small enterprises."
"APIs [Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients] and Excipients are used to produce medicine here. We have to import most of the API as manufacturing needs a huge investment. But excipients do not need much investment and can be produced here. So, small entrepreneurs can enter this area."
Women entrepreneurs also have the scope to enter other areas like primary and secondary packaging. Though it is mostly a male-dominated area, women still have scope for business, she added.
Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (Bida) Secretary, Mohsina Yasmin, said the government has a scheme for funding and training women's startups. There are also various projects with development partners such as the World Bank. Many women are benefiting from it.
Managing Director of SBK Tech Ventures, Sonia Bashir Kabir, said, "Startups need to work on creating unique and innovative ideas about businesses that have potential in the market. There are also several startup firms that can help fulfil the legal requirements of businesses. Taking their help will help in getting funds."
Presenting the keynote, Arif Khan, vice-chairman of Shanta Asset Management, tried to draw out solutions for financial access.
According to data from the Bangladesh-based management consulting firm, LightCastle Partners, $94 million in financing went to startup businesses in the first nine months of this year.
In the first six months, 94% of investments were made from abroad but in the third quarter, local participation increased significantly, which was a positive note for the country.
As chief guest at the event, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said, "The women of our country have already progressed a lot. Attendance in education is nearly equal, with women leading the way in many areas."
"Women are no longer lagging behind in any field of work, performing their duties efficiently. It is now proven that women can work equally as men. They are now contributing equally to the development of the country," he said, adding that changes in mindset are necessary to uplift women who are still lagging behind due to lack of opportunity.