Bangladesh Bank has provided a total of Tk778 crore to 10,000 women entrepreneurs under its refinance scheme, said Governor Atiur Rahman.
During the last one year, the banking sector has financed Tk395 crore to 3,317 new women entrepreneurs which is 5% of the total new SME borrowers, he added.
The central bank chief was addressing the inaugural session of a seminar on “Credit Access for Women Entrepreneurs - Challenges, Obstacles and the Way Forward” held at the Bangladesh Bank Training Academy Auditorium in the capital yesterday.
He said if women are given necessary supports including financial access, they can themselves ensure economic emancipation.
Atiur Rahman said many women have entrepreneurial skills and should be provided with supports they require to bring about changes in the male-dominant economic system.
“Since half the population are women, we will lose national output by under utilising their skills and innovative ideas,” said Governor.
He stressed the need to promote self-employment in the face of relative decline of public sector jobs.
According to him, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can be regarded as a potential lifeline to generate jobs and promote inclusive economic development.
“SMEs are the best option we are left with. In this backdrop promoting women entrepreneurship has become one of the key policy interventions of Bangladesh Bank,” Atiur Rahman said.
He said women entrepreneurship development is one of the important dimensions of that inclusive policy of the central bank.
“Engaging women in economic activity by providing enhanced access to financial services is the key target of (the central bank.”
“Due to our policy support and refinance scheme, financing to women entrepreneurs have increased substantially over the last four years.”
Governor said Bangladesh Bank would take initiative to motivate the Ministry of Industries to ensure that the SME strategy under consideration should address specific issues in access to finance for women entrepreneurs.
“We believe that the strategy should promote the gender perspective of enterprise development by focusing on women entrepreneurship support.”
The seminar was organised jointly by Bangladesh Bank, Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management (BIBM), Ministry of Industries, the European Union, Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BWCCI), SME Foundation, Federation Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), INSPIRED, WEAB and Chittagong Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry.