By AKM Kamal Uddin Chowdhury
Dhaka, Dec 27, 2017 (BSS) - Though Selima Ahmed belonged to an elite family and her husband had business background, she had to face numerous problems during the startup period of her business, like many other successful women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh.
Because of various social and cultural barriers, household work is the main profession for women in Bangladesh. Among other professions, teaching and medical practices deem to be suitable for educated women.
But the situation has been changing gradually as interest is growing among the girls to join many other challenging professions, even the career of a business entrepreneur. The government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has opened all doors for women to be a successful entrepreneur.
"Despite various barriers on the way of developing my career, I have achieved success by dint of my confidence, efforts, dedication and knowledge of global business. I feel proud as I am performing very well like other many other successful entrepreneurs," said Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BWCCI) President Selima Ahmad while talking to BSS.
She observed that the main problems of a woman entrepreneur in Bangladesh are social criticisms, shortage of fund, lack of business knowledge and above all courage.
"When my husband and I started selling commercial vehicles, buyers did not mentally accept me as a seller at the beginning of our business. However, after six or seven months, I overcame such problems," said Selima, also vice-chairperson of Nitol-Niloy Group.
"Like many other Bengali girls, I was married to Abdul Matlub Ahmad, chairman of the Nitol-Niloy Group, when I was a higher secondary level student. Later, I completed graduation from Dhaka University in commerce group. My knowledge, courage, hard work and family support, especially from my husband, helped me becoming a successful woman entrepreneur in the country," she added.
She said her self-confident and mental strength helped overcoming all difficulties faced by a typical woman entrepreneur in Bangladesh.
During the developing period, she observed, women must acquire adequate knowledge on how to start a business, how to operate it, how to manage financing and exploit market potentials of her products to become a successful entrepreneur. Otherwise, she cannot face challenges like a male business entrepreneur.
Selima said she always try to gather information about the changes taking place in the world trade and business to give a boost to her business for maintaining international standard.
"I never look at the past. I always look at future," she added.
She said bankers, society and all others would have to change their minds and accept a woman entrepreneur as an entrepreneur for giving proper supports, including finance and training to run a business efficiently.
"BWCCI is working relentlessly to increase further the capacity of woman entrepreneurs. The chamber has already provided training to over 47,000 women. Many of them have become successful in their respective businesses," she added.
She said the BWCCI has taken a plan to give training to 9,000 more women across the country by June 2018.
Like Selima Ahmed, Nayan Selina is also a successful woman entrepreneur whose broken family background could not impede success. A mother of two, Nayan Selina is now running hotel and poultry businesses in the beach town of Cox's Bazar.
"Nothing but lack of fund was the major problem to start my poultry business. I sold my ornaments and collected Taka 17, 000 to start a small poultry farm in 1995 and it was the beginning of my struggle," said Selina, whose husband left her with two minors about 21 years ago.
"I faced many problems at the beginning but the major one was fund crisis. Banks did not agree to lend me money for the poultry farm. At last, Karmasangsthan Bank gave me Taka 45,000 to expand my business which was the turning point of my life," she said.
"Now, I feel proud as a full-fledged businesswoman like a man. I am now contributing to the country's development by giving income tax and value added tax (VAT) properly. Many organizations have given me awards for my success," she added.