Zakir Ali Robin: Dhaka, 30 March 2019- In collaboration with Women’s Economic Empowerment through Strengthening Market Systems (WEESMS), BAGDOOM.com celebrated International Women’s Day 2019 and the first anniversary of Krishti- the first digital marketplace for rural women entrepreneurs at Four Points by Sheraton. Krishti is a Women’s Empowerment initiative focused on providing rural women entrepreneurs more advanced platform to sell their products nationwide and expand their customer base. WEESMS Programme is funded by the Embassy of Sweden and implemented by iDE Bangladesh and The Asia Foundation and is currently working in Rangpur and Khulna division across 9 districts in Home Textiles and Jute Diversified Products and Processed and Packaged Foods. The day was filled with interactive panel discussions and shared learning and highlighted some of the achievements of rural women entrepreneurs. The first panel discussion was on " Challenges & Opportunities of Rural Women: Direct Access to Markets & Digital Inclusiveness" with a star-studded panel including Rokia Afzal Rahman, President of Bangladesh Federation of Women Entrepreneurs, Sara Zaker, Executive Vice Chairperson of Asiatic3sixty, Tashina Ahmed, Executive Director of UCEP and Mominul Islam, CEO of IPDC Finance Limited and was moderated by Deepak Dhoj Khadka, Country Director of IDE Bangladesh.
The second panel discussion was on the topic “Networking, Mentoring and Coaching Support for Women SMEs” with panelists including Farzana Khan the General Manager of SME Foundation, Sakera Begum Banu ‘Joyeeta Sammanana’ winner and social activist, Humaira Islam the Founder and Executive Director, Shakti Foundation and was moderated by Nasim Firdaus, Former Ambassador. Sara Taylor, Country Representative of The Asia Foundation encouraging programmes to be cautious not to perpetuate stereotypical gender roles and emphasized the significance of including rural women entrepreneurs in mentoring and networking discussions, as their challenges are
distinctly different from urban entrepreneurs.
Speakers at the event emphasized the financial products available for women and the digital revolution playing a big role in connecting rural women entrepreneurs with buyers online, excluding the intermediaries and getting a fair price for their products.
Speaking at the occasion, Ms. Rokia Afzal said “Access to finance is now there for women. It wasn’t the case when I started out. However, I don’t think enough rural women have access to it, because banks tend to focus more on the larger corporate clients than the rural micro and cottage entrepreneurs.”
On the other hand, the CEO of BAGDOOM stated that “Krishti by BAGDOOM in partnership with WEESMS, is the first digital market-place which is meant to cater direct access to the market for rural women entrepreneurs providing nationwide customers with quality yet value for money home-made textiles and jute diversified products. This Krishti the project not only empowers all our rural women entrepreneurs to reach out nation directly, and at scale, but is also actionable under digital and financial inclusion (among other key components), through bagdoom.com.