Bangladesh Women Investors Network, the sister chapter of Bangladesh Angels Network, hosted its first physical women entrepreneurs this past weekend at the Embassy of the Netherlands in Bangladesh.
A handpicked slate of four early-stage women-led startups - Markopolo.ai, Wander Woman, Relaxy and CholPori, pitched for funding to an audience of angel investors and venture capitalists from the ecosystem. MTB Angona was the sponsoring partner for the flagship showcase.
Mr Thijs Woudstra, Deputy Ambassador at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, provided the opening remarks.
An engaging panel discussion on gender lens investing in the context of Bangladesh shed light on the topic from the perspectives of a venture investor and ecosystem builder, an impact investor, a commercial banker and a development partner.
The panel was moderated by Ms Farzana Kashfi, Advisory Board Member at BWIN, with Ms Tina Jabeen (Advisory Board at BWIN), Ms Sharawwat Islam, CFA (Advisory Board Member at BWN), Ms Rashid Rezoana (VP and Head of Women Banking, MTB Angona) and Mr Bas Blaauw (First Secretary for Economic Affairs and Private Sector Development for the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands) as speakers.
Ms Tina Jabeen highlighted challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh and recommendations around how gender lens investing can be applied to help address this, based on the findings from the 2022 UNESCAP Startup Ecosystem Assessment Report.
As one of the few foreign impact investors with a full-time presence in Bangladesh, Ms Sharawwat Islam, Managing Director at Truvalu Bangladesh, discussed how Truvalu is looking to apply a gender lens thesis to its origination, evaluation, structuring and post-Investment processes.
Ms Rashid Rezoana shed light on how financial institutions such as MTB can also apply a gender lens in their approach to making loan decisions and its approach to addressing challenges like gender washing.
Mr Bas Blaauw shared about the evolving relationship of the Embassy of the Netherlands in Bangladesh from development to trade & investment and how it is looking to foster trade and innovation through supporting women entrepreneurs, both at the grassroots and at the technology entrepreneurship forefront.
Ms Anita Ghazi Rahman, Advisory Board Member at BWIN and Managing Partner and Founder at the Legal Circle, provided the closing remarks. The event was graced by investors, founders, and key stakeholders from the Bangladesh startup ecosystem.
The Bangladesh Women Investors Network (BWIN) is the sister chapter of Bangladesh Angels Network (BAN), building a movement to educate, mentor and invest in women entrepreneurs and women investors in Bangladesh and in the diaspora. It has supported nearly 40 companies with USD 6.3 million+ in investments in the last 3.5 years. BWIN is backed by a powerful advisory board consisting of leaders from Bangladesh's startup, development and impact investment ecosystem.
BWIN was launched with the kind support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands in the spring of 2022 and already boasts a network of members and investment partners from more than a dozen countries.