Whether it is the social structure or lack of proper importance to female empowerment, women in Bangladesh were always on the back foot when it came to education, job or business. This has been the case for centuries without much change. However, the scenario is changing. Due to widespread incentives and facilitations women, today are now getting access to proper education. The government of Bangladesh is also championing gender balance in the workplace. Defying all the odds set against women, there are a few who stood against the patriarchy and established themselves as successful women. Let's take a look at some of the admired women entrepreneurs of Bangladesh and what made them what they are today.
Some Successful Bangladeshi Women Entrepreneurs
The contribution of Bibi Russell to the fashion industry of Bangladesh is undeniable. One of the pioneering figures in the fashion and ethnic culture of Bangladesh, Bibi Russell was born in 1950 and completed her higher education at London College of Fashion. She organized several fashion shows in Paris and Spain and has been the face of many leading fashion brands of the world in the late 70s.
Bibi Russell came back to Bangladesh in the late 90s and has since started her entrepreneurial venture, the Bibi Russell Production House. The distinct design element of her line incorporation elements of Bengali and Ethnic culture gave her products a unique position in the Bengali fashion landscape. Today her fashion house employs over 35000 rural artisans. Bibi Russell is a glaring example for the women who want to venture into the world of fashion designing.
Ivy Haque Russell
There is an acute lack of female health-related service in Bangladesh. Ivy Haque Russell, a former investment banker felt there should be changes to the current state and hence founded the Maya Limited in 2017.
Maya limited is an online platform that provides females with all types of services and help. Initially, Ivy Haque started working with the healthy development of pregnant women. The idea was to enlighten them on self-care and seeking medical counsel when necessary. With its success, Maya has ventured into other health services as well as legal aides. Anyone can check their app or website to access information as well as seek legal help by keeping their identity hidden. The contribution of Maya has added to the stride of women empowerment in Bangladesh and it's a commendable step towards the right direction.
Rubaba Dowla is an exemplary figure in the corporate world of Bangladesh. Graduating from Stockholm University in Economics, she entered into the corporate world in 1998 as a marketing executive in Grameenphone. In a career expanding over 23 years, Rubaba Dowla has redefined what it means to strive for excellence and that women are no less compared to men in the corporate world.
Rubaba is the founder of Pulse Healthcare Service and has also been acting as the country manager of Oracle. Her startup aims to ensure healthcare service for all through their medical center as well as an online platform. The organization has gained popularity under the able leadership of Rubaba.
In the social fabric of Bangladesh which somehow shares a negative impression towards female entrepreneurship, the successful and striving female entrepreneurs are breaking the long-held stereotypes. And among them, the story of Taslima Miji is even more inspiring.
Taslima Miji is the founder of Techmania. A company that provides computer-related hardware solutions for organizations. From repairing to assembling, the range of service offered by Techmania is diverse.
Taslima Miji completed her higher studies at the University of Dhaka. Although hailing from a family of businessmen, she decided not to get into the family business line. Rather Miji started her entrepreneurial venture with tech, completely unrelated to her family business line. Over time, Miji was able to establish Techmania as a leading tech solution for a range of organizations and corporations.
The path towards female entrepreneurship is still growing. Though it is yet to be on par with male entrepreneurship, the development that has been done to this point in this sector for women can be largely attributed to the Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry or BWCCI. Selima Ahmed is the founder of BWCCI. In her long and illustrious career of entrepreneurship in the private sector.
In her early days of entrepreneurship, Selima Ahmed understood that the situation was not favorable for women entrepreneurs at all. Through her struggle to establish her ventures, she also focused to make the situation better for others. Over the years, BWCCI has helped countless women to kickstart their entrepreneurial ventures and provide any form of support necessary. For her service to the industry, Selima Ahmed was awarded the Islamic Development Bank prize in 2012.
Just like Selima Ahmed, Sabrina Islam is also a shining example of women empowerment in Bangladesh. After completing her education in law from the University of Dhaka, Sabrina Islam decided to start her own business in the mid-70s. it was during a time where women's entrepreneurship was practically unheard of. Sabrina Islam faced many challenges to establish her ventures and simultaneously felt the need for mentorship to the aspiring female entrepreneurs.
Over four decades, Sabrina Islam paved the way for many female entrepreneurs and as an acknowledgment of her service, she received the Daily Star award for Most Outstanding Woman in Business in 2008. Currently, she is heading the Women's Entrepreneurship Association and acting as a managing director of a leading garments factory.
Salina Qadar is another pioneering figure in female entrepreneurship in Bangladesh. she started her first venture, Agriconcern back in 1985. This was a time when Bangladesh was having a tumultuous political situation and it was harming the agricultural sector. She observed that there was practically no form of incentivization of export of potato, even though it grows in abundance in Bangladesh.
Over the next decade, Salina Qadar facilitated the export of over 12000 metric tons of potato. For her achievement and service in the agricultural sector, she was recognized for her work by the Daily Star in 2004.
The state of women's entrepreneurship in Bangladesh is still growing. In addition to government incentives, various private firms are also providing support for up-and-coming aspiring entrepreneurs. The accomplished female entrepreneurs can act as an inspiration for many. They stand to prove that no matter what the odds maybe if you have conviction, you will succeed.