The women's engagement in wholesale and retail trades increased by 126 per cent over a period of one decade due to their higher participation in small and medium enterprises (SMEs), official data showed.
The number of businesses jumped to 203,189 in the last fiscal year (FY2019-20) from that of only 89,848 in FY2009-10, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) data showed.
It would be more than nine times than only 21,867 businesses registered 17 years ago in FY2003, the BBS found in its latest survey titled "Wholesale and Retail Trade Survey 2020".
Deputy Director Ms Aziza Rahman, the focal person of the survey, termed the findings as an impressive news for the country. "If we can add the online businesses or e-commerce in our survey methodology, the female participation could be much higher," she told the FE.
Executive Director of South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM) Professor Selim Raihan highly appreciated the growing participation of female in businesses. "We want to see more female workforce in the job market as well as more women entrepreneurs in trade, business and investment."
Meanwhile, the participation of male in the wholesale and retail trade had also increased by 169 per cent to 13.90 million in FY2020 from that of 5.17 million in FY2010, the BBS official statistics showed. The number increased by 6.6 times from 2.10 million in FY2003.
The survey further showed that a total of 14.10 million people - both male and female - were engaged in the retail and wholesale businesses across the country in FY2020 as compared to 5.26 million in FY2010.
However, the wholesale and retail trade establishments had reduced to 2.54 million in the last FY2020 from that of 2.65 million in FY2010, the survey showed.
Development analysts said that the coronavirus spread that had started in late March last year might have caused shutting down many business establishments as those were struggling to survive.
When asked, BBS Deputy Director Ms Aziza Rahman said that since the survey period was FY2020, the impact of coronavirus could be one of the reasons for the reduction of business establishments.
"As this is a preliminary finding, we're not yet sure about the actual reason. But we need more analysis to confirm the reasons behind the reduction of the business establishments in FY2020," she said.
Prof Selim Raihan said that they had noticed a massive impact of Covid-19 on the trade and businesses in their survey conducted during the first wave.
So, the coronavirus is the key reason for the reduction in business establishments across the country, which reflected in the BBS survey, he said.
Bangladesh is still struggling with the economic shocks as thousands of formal and informal jobs had been cut during the Covid-19 pandemic.
A total of 21 sectors are considered for estimating the GDP in national accounts. Of which, the wholesale and retail trade sector is the key one.
The wholesale and retail trade survey 2020 was conducted taking 15,800 samples from the 500 mouzas across the country, the BBS said.
It also showed that the country's retail and wholesale trade had added a gross value of Tk 3.29 million to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in last FY2020 than that of Tk 0.38 million 10 years back in FY2010.
The retail and wholesale trades include the business on food, beverage, tobacco, household goods, machinery, agriculture raw materials; repair of motorcycle, auto-rickshaw, rickshaw & bicycle; motor vehicle parts and accessories, information and communications equipments, cultural & recreational goods, other goods in specialised stores, stall and markets.