BWCCI, UNFPA Join Forces to Empower Women


On Tuesday, May 28th, the Bangladesh Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BWCCI) signed an agreement with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to carry out a 3 year program that aims to empower women in Bangladesh.  The project is titled, “Economic opportunities and sexual and reproductive health and rights- a pathway to empowering girls and women in Bangladesh” and has a budget of $527,888.

According to UNFPA Bangladesh representative, Arthur Erken, identifying and and addressing power imbalances is a critical aspect of promoting gender equality.  One major imbalance in Bangladesh is a limited role for women in their families when it comes to reproductive decision-making.  By increasing access to and utilization of information and services related to reproductive health, the project seeks to give women more autonomy to manage their own lives.

The 3-year project will also channel this increased autonomy towards economic empowerment by improving the entrepreneurial and technical knowledge and skills of women, which will allow them to start their own business enterprises.  When paired with increased control and knowledge of reproductive health, this initiative will tackle challenges of technical know-how and long-term sustainability with regards to women operated businesses.

Selima Ahmad

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Integrating Women into Value Chains

How can you effectively integrate women into value chains? With this question in mind, two representatives from the Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), an international development association based in Canada, shared their experiences with women’s economic development projects.

The benefits of empowering and integrating women into the economy are widely known. But what exactly must be done to incorporate women into value chains, especially in parts of the world where women face cultural barriers to participating in their economies? Continue reading ‘Integrating Women into Value Chains’ »

CIPE Hosts Sessions for Women Associations in Kathmandu

“The sessions in Dhaka and Kathmandu helped develop structure and set direction and proper governance guidance to our business associations, which usually tend to be run according to individual chairperson’s goals. Setting vision and mission based on a membership needs assessment is such a simple idea that we learned…so basic but yet hardly used as we tend to overlook membership requirements in our day to day chamber activities and operations” – Rezani Aziz, Sri Lanka

Despite severe challenges, Women Business Associations are playing effective roles in promoting interests of their members. However, CIPE has observed that most women business associations in South Asia are struggling to perform optimally.

CIPE took this challenge and an opportunity to work with a selected group of eleven business associations in the South Asia region aiming at strengthening institutional capacity to become stronger advocates for their members. In the first phase of this project, CIPE organized a two-day session for the group in Dhaka in January 2013. Continue reading ‘CIPE Hosts Sessions for Women Associations in Kathmandu’ »

US Embassy in Romania hosts discussion on Women Entrepreneurs

Earlier this month, the US Embassy in Romania organized an event with women entrepreneurs and students titled, “Women Entrepreneurs in Romania: Perspectives from the Public and Private Sectors.” Speakers at the event included the Minister of SME’s, Maria Grapini, and Gabriela Chiriac, President of the Women’s Association of Entrepreneurs in Galati. Both guest speakers have been closely involved in all the activities dedicated to women entrepreneurs in Romania including the creation of the Coalition of Women Business Associations (CAFA) and are dedicated to consolidating entrepreneurship in Romania.

The discussion brought together several members of CAFA, women entrepreneurs, and students interested in opening their own businesses.  In discussing entrepreneurship and how to become successful in business, Minister Grapini shared her personal experience in developing a personal brand as a manager and entrepreneur.  While focusing on the idea that in order to be successful entrepreneurs need to unite, Ms. Chiriac stated very clearly, “Entrepreneurs unite your forces!”

Though both ladies emphasized the value statement behind the brand as the most important element in building a good and consistent reputation, their message to the young students and other women in the room was to be professional, stay with your values, and be consistent.  It is a very strong message as positive values need constant reinforcement these days, in Romania as well as in many other countries.

For more information, see the press release published by the US Embassy here.

Camelia Bulat
Executive Director
Regional Center for Organization Management

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New Women Entrepreneurs Service Chamber Launches in Macedonia

In the Republic of Macedonia, the development of women entrepreneurs is still in a nascent stage. There have been a number of activities that aim to further development, however, the fact that only 4% of businesses are owned or managed by women shows that much more needs to be done. Over the past few years, many associations aimed at encouraging women entrepreneurs, but as of today there is still little progress.

In this context the association of women within the Macedonian Chamber of Commerce has developed serious initiatives such as mentorship programs, business promotion, and advocating on behalf of women owned businesses to strengthen the position of women in the business community.   With more than 150 member companies, the Macedonian Women Entrepreneurs at Service Chamber in Macedonia Chamber of Commerce will strive for the successful representation of women in business and pursue a high level of development for women entrepreneurs in Macedonia.

The president of Macedonian Women Entrepreneurs at Service Chamber in Macedonia Chamber of Commerce is Ms. Danela Arsovska (  The Coordinator for the association is Mrs. Maja Saveska (

Educating Women Business Associations in the Balkans

The association members of the Balkan Coalition of Women Business Associations got together for a series of two educational events which took place on March 20-22, 2013 in Istanbul, Turkey. The first seminar was titled “Primary Aspects of Managing Effective Human Resources” whereas the second seminar focused on businesses for migrants and people with disabilities.

The two events, hosted by the Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey (KAGIDER) as the Turkish Member of the Coalition, brought together over thirty representatives of women business associations from eight countries in the Balkan region (Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, FYROM, Greece, Romania, Serbia, and Turkey). Continue reading ‘Educating Women Business Associations in the Balkans’ »

CIPE Women Entrepreneurs Update

Pakistan – The Uks Research Centre partnered with the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) to host the “Women in Media Awards” in Karachi. The ceremony recognized four first-place awardees and three runners-up in the areas of print, television, radio, and online. The awards celebrate women journalists from across Pakistan whose work has generated better awareness and understanding of gender equality and women’s role in the society. The ceremony attracted more than 50 attendees, and CIPE Pakistan Deputy Country Director Hammad Siddiqui presented on the importance of training journalists to support the democratic process. Uks also used the occasion of International Women’s Day to launch its new guidebook, Powerful Women – Powerful Nation, which will serve as a training tool and guide for journalists to conduct gender-sensitive reporting. Read more about the winners on the CIPE Development Blog:

Indigenous Women and the Fight for Economic Inclusion in Peru

Originally posted on the CIPE Development Blog by Molly Brister.

Last October U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to Peru. Clinton’s Peru trip barely made the headlines, but her remarks deserve attention and continue to ring true worldwide, especially in Latin America.

On her agenda: discussing bilateral and regional cooperation and delivering a keynote on women’s financial inclusion. In her remarks, she emphasized that economic strength is derived from social inclusion, and “at the heart of social inclusion [is] a commitment to women and girls.” But unfortunately the world’s attention was elsewhere, caught up in controversy over Libya and other regional priorities. Continue reading ‘Indigenous Women and the Fight for Economic Inclusion in Peru’ »

CIPE Women Entrepreneurs Update

Nigeria – CIPE hosted a workshop in Lagos for 26 women participants representing 17 business and professional organizations throughout Nigeria. Facilitated by CIPE Nigeria Country Director Wumi Gbadamosi and CIPE consultant Carmen Stanila, the workshop focused on advocacy techniques for promoting policies that improve the business environment for women. The participants learned about the elements of building an effective advocacy campaign and laid the foundation for a network of women business associations by developing the mission, goals, membership categories, structure, and the groups’ rules for the network. This is the second workshop in a series, which is part of CIPE’s program to enhance the participation of Nigerian business women in decision-making.

Pakistan – The Peshawar Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry organized its first focus group meeting as part of a CIPE-funded initiative to identify and address policy-related barriers to the development of women’s entrepreneurship in Pakistan. Access to finance was highlighted as a major issue that will need to be addressed, both to encourage greater participation by women in entrepreneurship and to support the expansion of women-owned firms.

Afghanistan – The Impressive Consultancy Company and the Women’s Economic Empowerment Center conducted an exhibition of products made by women-owned businesses on February 14 to mark Valentine’s Day. Several students from CIPE’s Tashabos youth entrepreneurship course participated in the event, setting up booths to display and sell their products, providing them with a chance to improve their marketing skills.

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CIPE Women Entrepreneurs Update

Pakistan – CIPE completed a diagnostic report on the development of women’s chambers of commerce in Pakistan. The research shows that of eight registered women’s chambers, currently only five are functioning effectively. The report indicates that while these chambers have increased their membership, they continue to have deficits in governance, income generation and sustainability, and service delivery for members. Using this information, CIPE plans to develop a range of capacity-building initiatives for Pakistan’s women’s chambers, and will also integrate these organizations into current efforts to build a region-wide network of women’s business organizations.

Zimbabwe – CIPE partner the Women’s Alliance of Business Associations in Zimbabwe (WABAZ) conducted a Womenomics Dialogue Forum in cooperation with its members the Professional Women Executives and Business Women’s Forum, the Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Center, and Network (ZWRCN) and UN WOMEN. The Forum provided an opportunity for 55 women participants to discuss the budgetary process, focusing on women’s attitudes towards participation in the budget process and how they can advance their participation in the formal sector. The attendees were encouraged to be part of organizations that advocate on their behalf. Action plans from the Forum included addressing women’s lack of knowledge of the budgetary process and the resulting disadvantages. Several of the host organizations pledged to provide support to these action plans. For example, ZWRCN will be responsible for research and obtaining information on gender-based budgeting, PROWEB will ad vocate for a quota system were women can sit in on decision-making boards, and WABAZ will disseminate information to its members to increase women’s participation in budgetary process.

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