The complex loan application procedure discourages women to apply for institutional finance, Selima Ahmed, founder president of Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said yesterday.
“Different requirements by different banks create difficulty for women entrepreneurs in accessing loans,” she said.
Women-dedicated desks are not active in many banks and some are yet to establish such desks, she said.
The BWCCI chief requested bankers to cooperate more with women to make loan-processing free from hassles.
Selima spoke at a seminar on Promoting Women Entrepreneurship in Bangladesh organised by BWCCI and Asian Development Bank at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre.
Bangladesh Bank with finance from ADB started a project to support women entrepreneurs in September 2010.
BWCCI was assigned as the implementing agency to enhance capacity of women entrepreneurs and associations to fully access the financial resources and services earmarked for women SME enterprises under the ADB loan programme, Selima said.
The chamber trained 900 women entrepreneurs at micro and SME levels from six districts, including Khulna, Rajshahi, Barisal, Sylhet, Rangamati and Gazipur.
After the training, women are more encouraged and capable of seeking institutional finance, said Sangita Ahmed, president of BWCCI.
“Women are now informed on bank requirements, necessary documents and are able to prepare them better,” Sangita said.
The Bangladesh Bank is giving the utmost emphasis on women empowerment by creating easy access to finance, said Sukamal Sinha Choudhury, general manger SME and special programmes department of the central bank.
“We have set a dedicated desk for taking complaints from women entrepreneurs and to help them,” he said.
Women now constitute over 10 percent of the total business entrepreneurs in the country, compared to negligible numbers of a few years ago, said M Teresa Kho, country director of ABD to Bangladesh Resident Mission.
“We are glad that ADB help BWCCI in ‘Technical Assistance’ project to ensure easy access of finance for women,” Kho said.
Development is not possible without the development of women as half of the total world population is female, she added.
“If we want to develop our country, first we should empower our women,” said AMA Muhith, finance minister. “We are also doing well in human development.”
The bankers should be cordial in dealing with women, said Meher Afroz Chumki, state minister for women and children affairs.
The government has also allocated grants of Tk 100 crore for women entrepreneurs in the new budget.
Source: The Daily Star