According to the BIDS survey, the reason for the decrease of potential markets for the products of the women entrepreneurs is the lack of sufficient capital
Women entrepreneurs have been unable to increase production of their products for lack of capital and marketing skills, which makes them unable to open up markets for their product both at home and abroad, according to a survey.
According to the survey, conducted by Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), the potential market for the products of the country’s women entrepreneurs significantly decreased between 2009 and 2017, which ultimately limited the sales of the products within the domestic market.
The study titled ‘Women Entrepreneurs in SMEs: Bangladesh Perspective 2017, was recently revealed by the research organization, in collaboration with SME Foundation.
According to the survey report, the share of the potential market for the products of the women entrepreneurs of the country in the international level decreased from 7 percent in 2009 to a meagre 1.5 percent in 2017. Besides, the share of the potential market in district level also decreased to 30.6 percent in 2017 from 43 percent in 2009.
According to the BIDS survey, the reason for the decrease of potential markets for the products of the women entrepreneurs is the lack of sufficient capital.
According to the report, almost 50 percent of the country’s women entrepreneurs faced problem while marketing their products at home and abroad in 2017 for lack of capital, while only 4 percent of the women entrepreneurs suffered from the lack of capital in 2009.
The study also noted that the women entrepreneurs face numerous problems such as low profits, price discrimination, low sales, communication-related problems in the international market, lack of skilled workers, and intensity of competition, as they market their products.
Monira Begum, managing director at the Satranjee Palli Rangpur Ltd, said: "I started my business in 2006, and because of colourful patterns and designs, our satranjee has great demand at home and abroad."
“In 2014, I exported my product to China through a single buyer. But, after a few months, suddenly the buyer in China stopped to import products from me,” she said.
“Despite having quality products, lack of proper management and communication I couldn’t export my products," she added.
"Moreover, capital shortage is one of the main barriers while marketing our products inside the country," she added.
Monira further said right now she had only a showroom in the capital’s Lalmatia and considering the growing demand she needed to increase the number of showrooms in Dhaka as well as at the district level.
But, because of capital shortage she is unable to go for expansion.
Taharima Begum, president of Chapai Nakshi Association of Chapainawabganj Nakshi Katha Cluster, said that after getting trained in marketing and management at the SME Foundation, they were now promoting their products in various ways such as through participating in local fares.
But lack of sufficient capital and skilled manpower, she said, was causing problems in the way of their product marketing efforts.
Nazneen Ahmed, senior research fellow at Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies, said: "Women entrepreneurs are just doing the business but they are very much inexperienced in marketing their products."
For that reason, despite having potentials for producing a variety of products, sometimes women refrain from going for the production of all of these different types of products in view of the struggle they might face when they would go for the marketing their products, she said.
“They are seriously constrained by limited market access, especially due to a lack of local sales centres and proper market knowledge," she added.
Talked about the role of banks and financial institutions towards ensuring finance to women entrepreneurs, Md Abdul Halim Chowdhury, Managing Director and CEO of Pubali Bank Ltd’s said, “We are always keen to provide credit to women entrepreneurs. But in most cases banks don’t get real women entrepreneurs.”
“Those who apply for loan, very few of them typically meet the minimum criteria to avail bank credit”, he added.
Talking to Dhaka Tribune, Selima Ahmad, president of the Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BWCCI), said to educate women entrepreneurs in various marketing skills, proper training was essential.
In addition to providing the training facilities, the government should support women entrepreneurs as they participate in the national and international fairs, she added.
“In the way of providing the opportunity for show-casing women entrepreneurs’ products to foreign buyers and develop business relationship skills, the government should provide them with special incentives as they participate in the international trade fairs abroad organized by Export Promotion Bureau,” she said.
KM Habib Ullah, chairperson of the SME Foundation, said that the foundation had a plan to ensure proper training for women entrepreneurs so as to give them a good footing in their respective business areas.
“We have increased the number of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) products fair at regional and national level so that the entrepreneur are able to display their products easily,” he said, while adding that the SME Foundation was also trying to involve trained women entrepreneurs in the marketing process.
“We have already introduced a training course on digital marketing under our Capacity Building and Skill Development wing, which assists them in promoting their products in national and international levels through online platforms,” KM Habib Ullah added.