The variation of businesses remains very limited for women entrepreneurs in the field of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), according to a study.
Conducted by the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), the study revealed that some 50 per cent of women entrepreneurs were mostly engaged in the business of fashion and boutique house.
In case of services, beauty parlour (71 per cent) occupies the leading position, said the study styled 'Impact assessment of SME Foundation's activities'.
This tendency may create the problem of excess supply, especially in case of services, it added.
Moreover, lacks in marketing strategy and networking may make it difficult for women entrepreneurs to sell goods when there is oversupply, the study pointed out.
The study aimed to assess SME Foundation's institutional performance towards the development of SMEs. A mix method of both qualitative and quantitative approaches was adopted for evaluating the activities of SMEF. The evaluation is carried out using available information and surveying a sample of SMEs.
A total of 526 entrepreneurs were interviewed through a questionnaire survey. The enterprises were selected from 10 districts across six divisions of Bangladesh.
The research was completed on October 29, 2019.
Though the number of women entrepreneurs is rising, most of them consider their business environment to be challenging and in some cases even hostile, the study disclosed.
Starting a business appears to be very difficult for women mainly due to lack of start-up capital. Finding the right contacts is also a big problem.
Other challenges faced by women entrepreneurs include lack in self-confidence, difficulties to combine home and work life and lower access to business-related information, said the study.
Though women entrepreneurs face various constraints to start or run a business, nearly 99 per cent of them have agreed that their profession has made them more empowered both in family and in society.
Although SMEF has promised to perform diverse activities for women entrepreneurs, only few of the activities are undertaken prominently, such as providing training and organising trade fairs, said the study.
Initiatives of SMEF for development of women entrepreneurship have some noble objectives, the activities to achieve those objectives appear to be less coordinated, it added.
The Women Entrepreneurship Development wing of the SME Foundation works towards bringing women entrepreneurs into mainstream development process.
It provides the 'National Women Entrepreneur Award' to encourage women entrepreneurs.
It also organises 'Matchmaking fair' where budding women entrepreneurs are introduced with potential buyers. Starting from organising business plan competition to organising SME fair, a variety of activities are carried out by its Business Support Service wing.