WOMEN seeking to stand on their own face daunting odds in procuring seed money to start a business or set up a small enterprise. Although they are prudent in money-management and have talent and motivation for self–employment projects, their access to finance has been ironically extremely limited. They were not traditionally considered bankable as they could not provide co-laterals. For single or widowed women in particular ,their approach for funding would be met with an off-putting question: Do you have a guardian (as a guarantor) ?
All these barriers are breaking thick and fast ,especially in the backdrop of the seminal, and salubrious endeavour for women's empowerment. It is in this light that we appreciate Bangladesh Bank's latest move to have each branch of commercial banks and non-bank financial institutions to lend a minimum of TK.50,000 to at least one entrepreneur every year. Given the total number of branches,nearly 10,000 new entrepreneurs will be created per year.As it is, various financial inclusion programmes targeting women are being operated by banks and non-bank financial institutions.
Quite clearly Bangladesh Bank is at the vanguard of what can be termed a quiet movement for women's empowerment through their financial inclusion. The directives need to be followed through at the implementation stages so that finance reaches genuinely potential entrepreneurs with business counseling for the starters dovetailed to the lending operations. Also, transparency and accountability would have to be ensured.