Direct access to main market helps create 6,000 women entrepreneurs

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DHAKA, Feb 13, 2020 (BSS) – Shirin Begum, an woman entrepreneur of
Bogura, now earns Taka 15,000 to Taka 20,000 in a month. She invests this
money for education and beautiful future of her children.

“If rural women become self-reliant economically, they could be saved
from repression in one hand, while the earnings of both wife and husband
bring prosperity to the family on the other hand,” Shirin Begum said.

There are such a huge number of rural women entrepreneurs in different
areas of the country who are working on market management after receiving
training through various non-government organisations.

Action Aid Bangladesh, a non-government organisation, recently arranged
the national colloquium in the capital’s Gulshan on market management with
the participation of the women of different districts.

Another woman entrepreneur Halima Begum said she started vegetable
farming through the training of the Making Market Work for Women Project of
the Action Aid.

Later, in cooperation of local administration and Action Aid, she has
been able to earn money by selling the vegetables through three collection
points.

Experts at the function said the rural women have huge potentials of
becoming entrepreneurs in one hand, while they have also to face various
obstacles on the other hand.

To ensure economic empowerment for the women, a safe and female-friendly
market is a must, they said, adding their participation in the market system
will have to be ensured side by side.

At the function, Rashida Begum, who hails from Patuakhali, narrated her
story of sufferings in selling her products in the local markets.

Previously there was no scope of direct selling of the agriculture
products in the main market due to the influence of the middlemen. As a
result the farmers and entrepreneurs were deprived of getting the fair prices
of their products.

But that situation is being changed gradually as the government has
taken various steps for ensuring fair prices of the products of the farmers
and entrepreneurs.

In this connection, Rashida Begum demanded of the government to ensure
fair prices of the products of the female farmers by creating a direct link
between the main market system and them.

Director of the Department of Livestock Dr Sheikh Azizur Rahman said
there is no scope for denying the contributions of the women to the country’s
advancement.

“Our department is always active to provide support to the women
entrepreneurs,” he said.

Dr Rahman said there is a huge scope for working in the dairy sector
alongside the poultry industry by the female entrepreneurs. “However,
strengthening the marketing of their products is very much needed,” he said.

Putting emphasis on creating awareness among the entrepreneurs about the
issue as well as raising their skill, Dr Rahman said only the government
initiatives are not enough, the private initiatives are also needed in this
regard.

World Vision Programme Director Tony M Gomes said the country is
advancing fast economically, and women empowerment and positive change of
their mindset are playing a role behind this.

“This change takes place through the participation of the women in the
economic activities,” he observed.

Gomes said outlook of the people will have to be changed to ensure
economic uplift of the country. Apart from this, the greater participation
and equality of the women in economic activities will have to be ensured and
market system will have to be made women-friendly.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SKS Foundation Russel Ahmed Liton said
due to lack of proper environment and facilities, the rural women do not have
direct access to the main market though they have an interest in this regard.

“Though they had skills, they could not know how they will earn money
and become self-reliant economically by utilising that skills,” he said.

Liton said to solve this problem his organisation has undertaken a
programme to set up a link between the women entrepreneurs and markets and
banks.

He said through this programme, women entrepreneurs have been created in
nearly 1000 families.

“They not only ensured their own empowerment, they also created scope of
employments for others,” the SKS CEO said, adding as a result the living
standard of over six thousand families has developed significantly.

Action Aid Country Director Farah Kabir said the women of Bangladesh are
more conscious and more active in improving their condition. “But they lack
adequate market management,” she said.

Kabir thinks that both the public and private sectors will have to work
simultaneously so that the rural agriculture entrepreneurs, especially
females one, get proper environment and they can directly take part in the
market management.

She said Action Aid’s Making Market Work for Women Project has been
working so that the women entrepreneurs can run their business smoothly and
without any hindrance.

Kabir said at the last stage of the four-year scheme, imparting training
to the women on market literacy, trade, account management and other subjects
has been completed.

Besides, she said, the female entrepreneurs have been made aware of
nutrition, safe sex and reproductive health.

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