The Bangladesh Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry hosted a roundtable with Finance Minister AMA Muhith entitled “National Budget 2012-13 and Women Entrepreneurs.” Attended by members of parliament, NGO representatives, women activists, academicians, and the media, the event explored the possibilities for creating an environment in which women entrepreneurs could flourish.
Acting on a statement that “the government emphasizes women development in the greater inerest of the country,” Finance Minister Muhith pledged to allocate Tk 1 billion ($12 million) as a special fund to promote the development of women entrepreneurs. Muhith agreed to BWCCI’s request to release funds on the condition that the chamber develop a comprehensive plan on how the money will be used. He noted that in the past, special funds for other sectors have been set aside but were misused because of weak implementation plans.
A preliminary outline of how the money will be spent includes three objectives: Tk 400 million for supporting sectors in which women are heavily involved; Tk 300 million for improving projects for skills development to make women entrepreneurs more productive; and Tk 300 million to support local efforts to develop women entrepreneurs and set up separate markets for women.
In addition to the special fund, Selima Ahmad, President of BWCCI, requested the government develop a “Women Entrepreneurship Development Policy” that would address issues including women’s access to collateral free, easy-term loans, the establishment of development centers at the district level, and setting quotas for women entrepreneurs in government-built markets and special economic zones. While Muhith agreed to formulate a separate government policy and allocate 15% of the Equity and Entrepreneurship Fund for women, he rejected demands to increase the tax-free income ceiling to Tk 300,000.
In his remarks Muhith noted that the participation of women has increased in every sector since 1982, but “now it has become a revolution.”
Read more about the roundtable in the Financial Express here.
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