Thursday, June 13, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

41% of women-led businesses closed due to Covid

A new project will help women-led SMEs to grow using IP tools

Update : 04 Jun 2023, 10:10 PM

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam on Sunday said that the Covid-19 pandemic had led 41% of businesses run by women to completely shut down.

“Those who managed to survive had to either become smaller or move to smaller and cheaper places,” he said while launching a project styled “Use of intellectual property (IP) tools by women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh for generation of product value and economic growth”.

Besides, he said women faced more job losses than men during the pandemic.

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Deputy Director General Hasan Kleib was also present at the event held in the Hotel InterContinental.

“It is proven that if we can provide opportunities to women entrepreneurs, they can make a significant difference in their businesses,” said the state minister.

“This initiative bears immense importance as we strive for LDC graduation in 2026. In Bangladesh, the high percentage of SMEs sets us apart from other LDCs, as they comprise the lion's share of all businesses. SMEs are the backbone of our economy. Their contributions to investment, job creation, and economic growth are invaluable,” he said.

At present, SMEs make up more than 90% of the industrial units in Bangladesh and contribute 45% to the value-added in manufacturing.

Their contribution to the GDP has reached 25%, with a total of 7.9 million SMEs and around 24 million people engaged in this sector, accounting for 30% of the employed workforce. 

Besides their direct impact, SMEs also play a vital role in the supply chain of various goods and services.

To support the growth of SMEs, the government has implemented several initiatives, including the formulation of the SME Policy in 2019.

This policy aims to achieve a 32% contribution to GDP from the SME sector by 2024. In addition, the five-year plans, the perspective plans, along with the National Industrial Policy 2022 have also emphasised strategies in relation to the development of the SME sector.

But the utilization of IP tools among businesses in Bangladesh remains largely untapped, as indicated by the low number of IP applications in the past years.

“Protecting intellectual property rights is crucial for fostering innovation. It is regarded as an effective strategy for growth and development. When ideas and businesses are not safeguarded, individuals cannot fully reap the rewards of their inventions. This can result in a dwindling trend in research and development,” State Minister Shahriar Alam said.

“To safeguard creativity and innovation, we have enacted multiple Acts that protect IP in Bangladesh, including the recently adopted Bangladesh Patent Act 2022 and Plant Varieties Protection Act 2019,” he added.

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