Consultation Session on Harmonising Terminology of Women’s Entrepreneurship in Bangladesh

Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD) and International Trade Centre (ITC)–SheTrades Programme, in collaboration with Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI), decided to work together in order to develop and adopt the globally recognised ISO standard definition of Women Entrepreneurship (ISO IWA 34:2021) in Bangladesh. In this context, a virtual discussion programme was arranged on 19 April 2022 to discuss a clear and universally agreed-upon definition of women-owned and women-led businesses in the country — different institutions are using multiple terminologies.

Along with Selima Ahmad MP and BWCCI President, Representatives of the Ministry of Industries, several Chamber Presidents, and women entrepreneurs joined the virtual programme to share their views on the subject issue.

In the keynote presentation, Ferdaus Ara Begum, CEO of BUILD, mentioned that despite the contribution of women entrepreneurs to the economy, today, they are deprived of fair opportunities and scope. One of the main reasons for this is the lack of gender-disaggregated data in our country. Adopting a global definition can allow Women entrepreneurs (WEs) to be integrated with the international business and exploit the benefits of policies announced by the government. She highlighted the importance of adopting the ISO standard global definition. She illuminated that collecting sex-disaggregated data at the national level could help evidence-based policymaking and international comparison. WEs could also get access to public procurement. She also shared examples of several countries accepting ISO definition and what benefits they have received.

In his speech, Edison Yap, Associate Economic Affairs Officer, SheTrades Initiative, International Trade Centre, informed that the sector has been suffering from policy support because of the non-existence of harmonised global definition of women entrepreneurs. ITC, ISO and others have prepared four WE definitions to ensure institutional recognition of their economic activities. Adopting and integrating the ISO IWA 34:2021 standard of WEs definition in Bangladesh will make the segmented entrepreneurs eligible to avail of policy and monetary assistance. Countries should set the definition by considering the nation’s business environment and the demand of the women entrepreneurs’ community.

Selima Ahmad MP informed that the Bangladesh Bank and the Ministry of Industries had provided definitions of women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh. We need to consider the term women-owned business and the percentage of ownership while setting up the definition. She assured to provide every possible support from the end of Parliament to formulate a globally recognised and harmonised definition of WEs.

Enclosed is the press release (in English) for your kind consideration. Please feel free to contact us for any queries.