Women entrepreneurs need training on how to produce quality products and market those properly to excel in life, owners of small and medium enterprises opined yesterday.
Despite having the potential to produce a variety of products, women refrain from going for production because of the struggles they always face at the time of selling the items, they said.
To solve the problem, the government could take up a project to establish a link between such entrepreneurs and the market, they said.
The observations came at a seminar titled “Non-financial challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in SMEs” organised by SME Foundation at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the capital.
“We need to initiate specific district-wise training to create entrepreneurs, where foreign trainers can impart knowledge on making quality products,” said Rokia Afzal Rahman, president of the Bangladesh Federation of Women Entrepreneurs.
When a few get the training, the knowledge will be shared among others so the training will have a huge impact on society, she said, adding, “We have such experience in fishing, poultry farms and fruit farming.”
She said the training would fail to leave its expected impact if the marketing aspects were not introduced to women entrepreneurs afterwards.
“Establishing women entrepreneurs in the marketing is a good way to ensure their success,” she said as the programme's chief guest.
Prof Momtaz Uddin Ahmed, director of SME Foundation, echoed the same, saying women needed proper training and an entrepreneurial mindset from the very beginning.
The government can introduce a topic in the education system delineating ways for becoming entrepreneurs and it should be continued in higher education, he said, adding, “Entrepreneurs are not born but arise through a grooming process.”
SME Foundation Chairperson K M Habib Ullah said they had plans to ensure training for women to give them a good foundation in their arena.
“We are also trying to introduce trained women to the marketing process. However, we have limited options as our funds are too little compare to our needs,” he said.
The government provided Tk 200 crore to the foundation in 2008. The foundation gets Tk 12-16 crore every year as interest of the amount and disburses it as loans among entrepreneurs through banks.
“The government now understands that the amount is too small,” said Ullah.
Industries Secretary Abdul Halim said the government was trying to provide proper training. “However, training does not make entrepreneurs but it can improve their quality,” he said.
A number of women entrepreneurs spoke out about their problems in the seminar. Most involved not getting support from their families, facing social obstacles, lacking product quality, having problems in marketing and lacking ICT knowledge.
Nazneen Ahmed, senior research fellow at the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies, said women entrepreneurs were seriously constrained by limited market access, especially due to a lack of local sales centres.
“Good quality products do not get the best price, as many of the entrepreneurs do not have good marketing skills,” she said.