Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD) and International Trade Centre (ITC)-SheTrades Programme, in collaboration with Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) decided to develop and adopt the globally recognised ISO standard definition of women entrepreneurship in the country.
As part of the initiative, a virtual discussion was held on Tuesday to discuss about a clear and universally agreed-upon definition of women-owned and women-led businesses in the country as different institutions are using multiple terminologies.
Along with businesswoman-cum-lawmaker Selima Ahmad, representatives from the Ministry of Industries, several chamber presidents, and women entrepreneurs joined the virtual event to share their views on the subject issue.
In the keynote presentation, CEO of BUILD Ferdaus Ara Begum mentioned that women entrepreneurs are being deprived of fair opportunities and scope despite their contributions to the economy.
"One of the main reasons for this is the lack of gender-disaggregated data in our country. Adopting a global definition can allow women entrepreneurs (WEs) to be integrated with the international business and exploit the benefits of government-announced policies," she said.
She highlighted the importance of adopting the ISO standard global definition. She suggested that collecting sex-disaggregated data at the national level could help evidence-based policymaking and international comparison.
"WEs could also get access to public procurement," she said, giving examples of several countries accepting ISO definition and what benefits they have received.
In his speech, Edison Yap, Associate Economic Affairs Officer, SheTrades Initiative, International Trade Centre, informed that the sector has been suffering from policy support because of the non-existence of harmonised global definition of women entrepreneurs.
ITC, ISO and others have prepared four WE definitions to ensure institutional recognition of their economic activities, he noted.
"Adopting and integrating the ISO IWA 34:2021 standard of WEs definition in Bangladesh will make the segmented entrepreneurs eligible to avail of policy and monetary assistance," he said giving a suggestion to set the definition by considering the nation's business environment and the demand of the women entrepreneurs' community.
Lawmaker Selima Ahmad, also the president of the Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BWCCI), informed that the Bangladesh Bank and the industries ministry had provided definitions of women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh.
"We need to consider the term women-owned business and the percentage of ownership while setting up the definition," she added.
She assured to provide every possible support to formulate a globally recognised and harmonised definition of WEs.