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The Financial Express

Women entrepreneurs may face setback due to virus pandemic

Munima Sultana | Published: April 05, 2020 09:26:02 | Updated: April 06, 2020 12:52:11


Picture used for representational purpose. Photo courtesy: IDLC Finance Ltd Picture used for representational purpose. Photo courtesy: IDLC Finance Ltd

Women entrepreneurs are likely to face major hit in their businesses centring coronavirus pandemic in the country due to lack of adequate back up strength as they have already missed major business seasons of the year.

In absence of adequate backup, it is apprehended that many micro and small business houses run by women are going to face closure for inability to manage monthly expenditure with no business in the month of March.

If the government supports are not provided for their business timely, many workers will also loss jobs, they warned saying that employment of more than 10 million have been generated centring female-run businesses.

Due to lockdown situation, women run businesses have already missed the market on the occasion of the Independence Day, and also are likely to miss Bangla new year (Pahela Baishakh) celebration.

Women businesses are mainly centred with handicraft items, boutiques, food and beauty parlours which get bonanza during local festivals which, according to Women Entrepreneurs Network Development (WEND), continue from February to June-July of every year. Since Eid festivals get both local and foreign items in the purchasing lists of the consumers in the country, local businesses are unable to get exclusive market.

"They (women) have already taken bank loans aiming three important events-- Ekushey February, Swadhinata Dibos (Independence Day) and Pahela Baishakh-- towards the end of last year," said Selima Ahmad, founder of the Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BWCCI).

She said if they miss Pahela Baishakh, many raw materials may be perished making total loss of businesses.

Kaniz Almas Khan, chief executive officer of Persona Beauty Parlour, however, said both small and big houses run by females are to be badly hit due to the current coronavirus situation.

Citing her sector's impact, Kaniz, also the founder president of Bangladesh Beauty Service Owners Association, said people's need for beauty comes after meeting basic needs like food, clothes etc. "Due to safety and security reason at this time, people may not come to parlour easily. In our sector, from small to big houses will equally be affected," she told the FE over phone.

Nazneen Nahar, an entrepreneur in information technology (IT) sector, said even IT sector will face after effects as most businesses will not be ready to invest further in software development or web related activities.

As she cannot run her firm after this month due to burden of loan, Nazneen has already decided to share her office space with another IT firm and lessen number of staff to cut monthly expenses. But Nazneen said the burden of bank loan is real headache for them due to lack of business in the current circumstances.

According to Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Foundation data, SME contributes 25 per cent of gross domestic products, and 70 to 90 per cent of SMEs are run by women employing more than 10 million people.

Kaniz apprehended increase in unemployment as many parlours, swana or slimming houses cannot afford staff for months. Kaniz said a small entrepreneur in her sector employs 20 persons.

Selima Ahmad of the BWCCI (Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry) said more than 15,000 members of her association urged the government to make rebate of bank interest for at least three months, VAT and tax for women entrepreneurs to get out from the current situation.

Nahid Binte Amin, founder president of Women Entrepreneurs Network Development (WEND), demanded back up for female run businesses at least three months in the form of special allocation, easy loan, grant etc.

"Women may not be directly involved with exports but they are part of facilitating them," she argued, adding women run businesses create huge employment contributing to economy.

smunima@yahoo.com

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