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06 Problems Every Early Stage Woman Entrepreneur Faces In Bangladesh, Backed By Personal Experiences

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Aug 17, 2015

“One could not count the moons
That shimmer on her roofs, or
The thousand splendid suns
That hides behind her walls.”

Khaled Hosseini proclaims in his novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, which demonstrates strong spirit of women and their immense potentiality. However, when these spirit and potentiality assist women to become successful as entrepreneurs but it often gets tricky than that given the challenges a woman entrepreneur has to go through in our society.

Entrepreneurship itself is a challenging job and it becomes more challenging for women because of their social position. However, it is important for the society that women come forward and start contributing to the society and economy.

Recently, we took time and spoke to few women entrepreneurs to know more about the problems and obstacles they face. Here is a list of most common problems women entrepreneurs go through.

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Social acceptance

Stories of 6 Bangladeshi Woman entrepreneurs
Stories of 6 Bangladeshi Woman entrepreneurs | Click On Image For More

Ferdousi Jasmin Mala, a SME entrepreneurs based in Rangpur started her business against the will of her family. ‘Initially it was very difficult to convince my in-laws, said Mala, and ‘my neighbours were always making comments on me and my work. It was very difficult to work as woman. But I have always been passionate about the work I’m doing now and hence I managed to survive and continue”.

In Bangladesh it is still very difficult for a woman to start her own initiative and run it. Women entrepreneurs seldom get support from surroundings including family, relatives and so on.

Initially it was very difficult to convince my in-laws, said Mala, and ‘my neighbours were always making comments on me and my work. It was very difficult to work as woman. But I have always been passionate about the work I’m doing now and hence I managed to survive and continue.

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Funding for women entrepreneurs

Funding is difficult for all early stage entrepreneurs. For women entrepreneurs it is even more difficult. When there are many loan schemes for women entrepreneurs now but in reality banks are often reluctant when it comes to issuing loan for a woman. There is a common perception about women that they would not be able to repay their loans and they would give the money to their husband and would not use it properly. There is a definite crisis of confidence when it comes to giving loan to a woman entrepreneur.

Samira Zuberi Himika of teamengine put it brilliantly, “In our country women entrepreneurs are not getting enough funding and help from banks and other funding sources whereas male entrepreneurs do not face this kind of obstacle for funding. There is a bias when it comes to giving money to women”

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Bureaucratic and legal problems

In doing registration and license for business, from government institutions, they need to go through hassles. This is true for all entrepreneurs regardless of gender but it is especially tough on women.

Advocate Khalid Yahyea, Lecturer, Department of Law, Bangladesh University, said, “Legal formalities are required for running an enterprise which becomes an upheaval task on the part of a women entrepreneur because of the prevalence of corrupt practices in government offices and procedural delays for various licenses, electricity, and water and shed allotments.”

In our country women entrepreneurs are not getting enough funding and help from banks and other funding sources whereas male entrepreneurs do not face this kind of obstacle for funding. There is a bias when it comes to giving money to women

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Platform

It is true that there are chambers and platforms for women entrepreneurs but most of these platforms are either dysfunctional or are not focused. Many of these platforms are active but busy with sporadic works and making headlines. There is almost no platform that helps early stage women entrepreneurs with guidance, mentorship, market access, self development, and many other important issues they need support for.

Moreover, most of these platforms are oriented towards conventional businesses and seldom support or are capable to support women with ambitious ideas and passion.

Legal formalities are required for running an enterprise which becomes an upheaval task on the part of a women entrepreneur because of the prevalence of corrupt practices in government offices and procedural delays for various licenses, electricity, and water and shed allotments.

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Dealing with customers and employees

For a woman entrepreneur it often gets difficult to manage customers and employees. More often than not, a woman can’t go out to party late night where big deals are often get signed and important connections are being made. On the other hand, there is always a limit how tougher a woman boss can get, yes, there are examples of women bosses who are doing fantastic, but given the context in our society it gets awkward for a woman.

A woman entrepreneur we interviewed earlier said, “my client used to chat extra hours when it comes to having business meeting with me and they seldom wanted to listen what I have to say.”

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Days are short

Running business is just part of what a woman does in a day. As Anwara fedousi Poly of Rangpur Women Chamber said, “I start the day with preparing my kids for school, and then I drop them to school, and go to my office. In the evening, the story is same, I go back from work, prepare meals and everything.”

The point is not that, women should stop doing household chores; the point is: this is an extra responsibility they get to take care of and every woman entrepreneurs should plan their time and set their priority.


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Asmaul Husna is our first Editorial Fellow based in Dhaka. She looks after our Startup and Conversation with entrepreneurs, makers, and experts.

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