|Published : 20 Mar 2017, 20:02:07|
Promoting women entrepreneurship
The findings of a survey conducted on entrepreneurship of women in South Asia by the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP) point to where it hurts economies in the region. The survey confirms that women's entrepreneurship in South Asia is still limited mostly to micro and informal categories. But micro-credit with all its merits for developing small entrepreneurship among uneducated rural women at the grass-roots level, has failed to take it to the next stage. A major problem facing women entrepreneurship is their limited mobility. Together with hurdles on way to accessing information, finance and training, the issues of safety and security put women at a great disadvantage to expand their business, particularly beyond the border.
The theme of the UNDP survey was non-tariff and other barriers to conducting business in the region from the perspective of women entrepreneurship. Its findings are a true reflection of the many adversities women face in carrying out business. The hard truth is that entrepreneurship development is gender-specific in the South Asian countries. It is indeed too much to expect that women will have equal share in industrial and business ventures even of the small and medium categories at this stage of social progress. But it has to be admitted that women's entrepreneurship at the present levels has not been commensurate with their relative better advancement on the education front. Their education level deserved far better recognition from financial and business sectors. A large number of women's knowledge and skills could have put healthy contribution -- even healthier than their male counterparts in certain areas -- to the country's economy.
It is this societal openness of attitude that is missing from the region still under a patriarchal hangover. Women-friendly amenities are conspicuous by their absence. In the absence of those, women have to depend on male intermediaries to undertake many of the operations they or their appointed female employees could easily perform. This would have not only ensured better women's participation in economic ventures but also established their right to such undertakings on a larger scale. Better qualified women instead have to take responsibility of families and children and at some point they simply lose interest in economic and business callings.
Clearly, this situation needs a change -- and change for the better if the South Asian countries desire to catch up with the economies of the advanced world. Not that all women of the region's populations, who are roughly half of the total, are expected to undertake business ventures but a substantial portion -- one that is reasonably sound -- can change the shapes of their respective economies if they get the right environment to perform. If only those women in Bangladesh at the lowest level known for developing their entrepreneurship with micro-credit were taught to keep their transaction records, it would have made a financial miracle happen for village economy. Financial institutions, including banks, should embark on a pro-active programme to bring them under their credit programmes by providing financial tools and training.