Archive for June 2011

Entrepreneurship for Young, At-risk Women

EMpower has a handbook called “It’s Her Business” for organizations that wish to offer entrepreneurship programs to young women in vulnerable situations. Entrepreneurship can give young women safer options for generating income as well as useful life skills. The handbook covers topics such as training, selecting a business, financial literacy, and mentoring.

Kim Bettcher

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New Project: Women Entrepreneurs in MENA

Dear Colleagues,

We are writing to invite you to take part in a unique and exciting project. In collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania’s renowned Wharton School of Business, we are working on a series of articles and a book on female entrepreneurship in the MENA region. This project offers you—relevant female entrepreneurs—the opportunity to share your experiences through two different outlets: (1) a series of articles that will be published in Wharton’s online journal, Knowledge @ Wharton (KW); and (2) a book that will result from a compilation of stories featured at KW.

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Democracy That Delivers for Women: Political and Economic Empowerment

The conference on Democracy That Delivers for Women, June 20-21, opened with a view on the interconnections between women’s political, economic, and social empowerment. This theme flowed through remarks of distinguished speakers beginning with Ambassador Melanne Verveer. Ambassador Verveer observed that democracy without women is a contradiction, and that empowering women in the workplace is smart economics. Charlotte Ponticelli encouraged us to “connect the dots” across spheres, while CIPE Chairman Karen Kerrigan advocated a holistic view of empowerment. Kerrigan argued that women’s empowerment must go beyond simply acquiring rights, because anything given to you can be taken away.

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Policy Recommendations to Support Women Entrepreneurs in Bangladesh

Women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh face a range of challenges, including social and economic barriers, and networking and management constraints. Some of these challenges can be addressed through targeted government policies, including allocation of sufficient budget funds to support women entrepreneurs. In recent years, the Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BWCCI) has been particularly active in promoting such policies. In particular, we are advocating the creation of a separate budget line item of one billion taka (approximately US $13.5 million) to create a National Women’s Entrepreneurship Development Fund. Such a fund could be designed to address various issues, including access to credit, training for women entrepreneurs, and better market access for women.

As more women in Bangladesh launch their own businesses, they are frequently unable to access the financing needed to expand. Currently, the Bank of Bangladesh (BB), the country’s central bank, operates a refinancing program for women offering interest rates of 10 percent on loans of up to 2.5 million taka (approximately US $33,874) against a personal guarantee. Nearly 2,600 women entrepreneurs took part in this program as of March 31, 2011, with approximately 1,800 bank loans and 800 loans from non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs). Over 1.8 billion taka (over US $24 million) has been lent out, but in our view, by 2012, the government should aim to double the number of women-owned enterprises getting bank loans. In particular, the government can expand credit guarantee programs and lowered interest rates for women entrepreneurs, set up a special window for financing, pre- and post investment credit counseling, monitor the disbursement credit to women, enable women to access credit without collateral, and even establishing a specialized women’s bank.

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One Week Left to Register for Democracy that Delivers for Women!

CIPE’s Democracy that Delivers for Women conference is right around the corner and there is still time to register! On June 20th and 21st CIPE is bringing together successful women from around the world to examine practical approaches to women’s empowerment and participation. During the two day conference participants will discuss:

  • Connections between economic, political, and civic empowerment for women
  • The importance of women’s leadership and participation in policymaking
  • The role of business associations in women’s empowerment
  • Institutional reforms necessary for removing legal and cultural barriers to women’s empowerment

To learn more about the conference themes, agenda and speakers or to register visit the Democracy that Delivers for Women website.

Anna Weber

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Bishkek Business Club to Participate in Upcoming Women’s Economic Symposium

Kyrgyzstan – On May 31, members of the Bishkek Business Club (BBC) met with US Embassy representatives to discuss BBC’s participation in the upcoming Women’s Economic Symposium “Strategies for Success” planned for mid-July in Bishkek. Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbaeva, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, and the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs are expected to attend. US Embassy officials discussed the possibility of BBC involvement with education and business development sessions during the symposium.

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The Debate on Women Board Members in Pakistan

In partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants Pakistan (ACCA-Pakistan), the largest accounting body in the country, organized a debate focused on gender diversity on corporate boards. Dr Afra Sajjad, ACCA-Pakistan head of education and policy development, presented a research report on the subject. Hammad Siddiqui, Senior Program Manager, CIPE-Pakistan shared CIPE’s experience of reforming the 2006 Trade Ordinance.

Read the full story on CIPE Development Blog.

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