The Bangladesh Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BWCCI) works to support their local women business community. Offering services including training, capacity building, and advocacy, BWCCI has emerged as a strong civil society organization that helps women entrepreneurs develop the necessary skills and knowledge to be successful.
Working with USAID’s Democracy and Governance program, Promoting Governance, Accountability, Transparency, and Integrity (PROGATI) on fighting corruption, and with CIPE on access to credit, BWCCI has established regional working groups to aid women in their endeavors. Here are a few stories of some of the women BWCCI has helped through their work.
At the age of 22, Konika Rani assumed responsibility for her family after the death of her husband. Having started a business in 2005 called “Pankaj Boutique house” in Aditmari, Lalmonirhat she applied for loan at the Janata Bank, mortgaging her land to the bank in the process. After 2 months, with the support of BWCCI, Konika received her first loan, in the amount of Tk20000, and repaid it within the scheduled timeframe. Following this, Konika applied for another loan from Janata Bank for Tk50000. However, the bank proposed her to only take Tk20000 again. In response, she informed the Rangpur Divisional working group of BWCCI and with the support of the Divisional Head, ACC, and Bank personnel she was able to receive Tk45000. Now, with the proper funds she can continue her business and fulfill her responsibilities to her family.
It was 1996 when Shahnaz Perveen started her handicrafts business named ‘Arpita Handicrafts’ in Rajshahi. In November 2011, Shahnaz needed to apply for a loan from the bank, but lacked the required TIN certificate. When she went to the TAX office to apply for the document, the officials demanded extra payment. She refused to pay and therefore failed to get her TIN. Very upset, Shahnaz contacted the Divisional Working Group, which carried the issue to the Tax Commissioner of Rajshahi. Once the Commissioner about her issue, she immediately took necessary action and provided Shahnaz the TIN certificate within 1 day.
“As a new entrepreneur I received proper direction on how to run a business honestly and properly through this training. BWCCI also helped build awareness for how to avoid corruption, which I feel is very important for not dropping out of business quickly due to corruption.”
Farhana Siddique, a housewife, was subjected to taunts from her husband one day when she asked him for money. Suddenly it struck her that she should do something to become self sufficient. Relying on her skills as a seamstress, Farhana started making clothes and opened a Boutique shop named Ma boutique in Mistri para, Rangpur.
To expand her business she needed to secure a loan but she did not know how. After discussing the situation with one of BWCCI’s members, she was advised to participate in training through the BWCCI- PROGATI project funded by USAID. Farhana received two days training on avoiding corruption. During the event she was also able to learn about service providers and how they assist the development of women entrepreneurs. The program offers many lessons and raises awareness in the community of business women about standing on their own feet through access to available services without corruption.
As for building her business, Farhana moves to different service providers. Following procedures honestly, she demands the same integrity in the provision of services. Utilizing the power of a USAID funded anti-corruption hotline and entrepreneur group efforts, Farhana effectively avoids corruption and receives necessary services promptly for the benefit of her business as well as others.
“All the credit for this goes to PROGATI and BWCCI. Now I can avoid corruption.”
Ms. Marzanahar Merry has always been independent. After marriage and moving to her in-laws, however, she was neglected and discouraged from doing business. Marzanahar was not dispirited though, and she fulfilled her desires and responsibilities to the family by designing dresses from home.
When she started her business in 2000 she received an order to design Punjabis for a shop. Marzanahar hired a girl to bring the Punjabis and designed them outside with some workers. With this arrangement, Ms. Merry earned substantial profits. After attending various training sessions for building her capacity she made the decision to do business formally and establish a shop with the necessary formal documents. With the support of her husband, Marzanahar opened her business named Suche Shilpo, Taltala, Tangail. She became a little courageous and one day a man said that the washing and pressing had to be done in Dhaka or the panjabis could not be sold at right price. Marzanahar agreed and the man took 250 Punjabis to Dhaka where he disappeared; she lost Tk40,000 worth of cloth. Her husband filed a case against him with the police station and she decided that she had to be cautious, fight against corruption and stand against bad people through the legal documentation of business procedures and rules of recruiting staff. She was advised to participate in the BWCCI-PROGATI training course funded by USAID and her new journey started. Marzanahar became self-confident and had the courage to take risk and be systemic in avoiding corruption. It had been unbelievable, and almost impossible to open a shop with all necessary documents without harassment and paying any extra money. Now, though, Marzanahar is well prepared to run her business effectively.
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