Chapter 1: Introductory
Women entrepreneurship is a rapidly growing phenomenon in many developing countries including Bangladesh. This paper reviewed the literature on women entrepreneurship development in Bangladesh with specific focus on government and financial intermediaries supports. The report also identified major challenges that obstruct smooth development of women entrepreneurs. Women involved in various micro, small and medium enterprises take on the challenge to work in a male-dominated society, competitive and complex economic and business environment with the government policy supports and financial institutions participation. They improved their living conditions and earned more respect in the family and the society. However, the challenges that were identified includes lack of access to credit, limited access to market information, infrastructure and utility services, traditional technology, bureaucratic complexity and so on. This report provides some useful academic insight and offers some practical suggestions toward improving government policy supports for developing women entrepreneurs. Key words: women entrepreneurs , entrepreneurship , challenges , prospects , government policy support , financial intermediaries. 1.2 Introduction
Women entrepreneurs constitute less than 10% of the total business entrepreneurs in Bangladesh whereas women in advanced market economies own more than 25% of all businesses. It is heartening to note that despite many barriers, a new women's entrepreneur class has arisen in the country taking on the challenge to work in a male-dominated, competitive and complex economic and business environment. Not only have their entrepreneurship improved their living conditions and earned more respect in the family and the society, but they are also contributing to business and export growth, supplies, employment generation, productivity and skills development of the country. A recent United Nations report concluded that economic development is closely related to the advancement of women. "In countries where women have advanced, the economy has usually been steady. By contrast, in countries where women have been restricted, the economy has been stagnant."Women's entrepreneurship is not an easy task. "Becoming an entrepreneur is an evolution of encountering, assessing, and reacting to a series of experiences, situations, and events produced by political, economic, social and cultural changes." Given the complexities in the social environment and administrative structure, women's entrepreneurship in Bangladesh is more challenging. Many social and operational constraints continue to restrict women from starting and running economic enterprises. Apart from the family and social barriers against the mobility of women, the operational barriers such as lack of access to capital, lack of training facilities for skills development, lack of business services, lack of business data, complex banking procedures and collateral requirements, etc. continue to critically limit their progress. Over the past two decades, norms segregating and protecting women have been breaking down. However, it is also apparent that female economic participation has in fact, marginalized women mainly because the activities involved in many areas does not provide women complete control over production, in land ownership or in income earned. In regular cases, the initiatives in this regard have transferred women from the core production activities to marginal ones, such as handicraft, handloom, or home-based industries than the more sophisticated productions involving modern technology, which are usually controlled by the male entrepreneurs. Women are not being able to play a controlling role in the mainstream production where the male power has remained intact. No dent is easily created in patriarchy and the patriarchal value system of the society...
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