INSPIRED project and in partnership with ILO, WEAB have attended a five-day training programme on " Entrepreneurship Development & Business Management", “Start Your Business”, developed by ILO which is specifically organized for those entrepreneurs who have recently established their businesses or those who would want to establish their own businesses. This five-day training programme scheduled from Saturday, 23rd to Wednesday, 27th July 2016. The training programme will take place at the premises of Bangladesh bank Training Academy (BBTA), in Mirpur.
WEAB Executive and General Body members gathered in a meeting to celebrate after Eid festive.
WEAB arranged a press conference at Sheuti to disclose the demand of Women entrepreneurs in the upcoming budget FY-2016 on May 28, 2016
WEAB arranged on April 10, 2016 a 3-days fair for Boishakhi mela at Sheuti with a vision to promote products of SME women Entrepreneur and from very rural zilla and upazilla lots of entrepreneurs came and did a profitable business.
Women Entrepreneur Association of Bangladesh (WEAB) demands Realistic National Budget (2012-2013)
On June 19, 2012, the women entrepreneur Association of Bangladesh (WEAB) held a meeting to discuss on National Budget (2012-13) in Kawran Bazar (Dhaka). This meeting was presided over by the President of WEAB, Mrs. Nasreen Awal Mintoo who reviewed the National Budget (2012-2013) presented in the national Parliament. She has praised the Honorable Finance Minister for allocation of Tk. 100 crore to women entrepreneur and homeless women but demanded of equitable distribution of funds for the Welfare of Women Communities irrespective of their classes. According to WEAB, most of the Women Entrepreneur at the grass root fails to comply with the traditional rules and regulations of Ministry of Commerce, and facing access problems either to business Chambers or Association.

Articles

 
Carl Bloom
Dept. of English
North South University
 
A few days ago, I had the privilege of interviewing five of the hardworking women of WEAB. they come from a wide range of backgrounds and are involved in manufacturing and selling many different items. All of them had the same thing to say about Nasreen Awal Mintoo-she is dedicated to her women and she works hard to ensure their success and growth.
 
The first entrepreneur I spoke with was Ruby All Damal. She has been making herbal medicine since she was 9 years old, when her mother was practicing this ancient art. She attended the Ayurvadic College in Mirpur and also has a certificate from the Roop Rang Herbal and Beautification College in Calcutta. Although she has been doing business for twenty years, by joining WEAB it gave her the opportunity to introduce her products in various countries but still she faces stiff competition in home and regional markets. She does not export directly but carries her products through WEAB to Trade Fairs. WEAB tries relentlessly to support such members.
 
WEAB has helped her reach a larger market and make important contacts. It is not just that she travels to the various fairs and business events of WEAB, but also becuase she has improved the packaging and image that she has given her company under the guidance of WEAB. Her product line is also expanding with her business. Recently, she has added neem oil, hair growth powder and a cleanshing face pack to her list of products. She proudly told me that her customers include Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's sister as well as Jyoti Basu, the former Chief Minister of West Bengal.
 
Growing a business beyond the borders though requires more than good products. It also requires knowledge of the legal system, export taxes and customs, labeling and making contracts. WEAB arranged for its members like Ruby and others to participate in Workshops with Bangladesh Enterprise Institute and South Asia Enterprise Development Facility of the World Bank group to acquire working knowledge for legal, export, taxes, marketing and others.
 
WEAB arranged many training programmes for its members with JOBS, ATTP, BASIC and many such agencies. These training benefited the members in Cottage Industries, Food and Clothing manufacturing and marketing.
 
The next women entrepreneur I met was Nasima Akter who graduated from Raj shahi with a degree in law. She is an advocate now, but she also has a home business. She started with 5000 taka in 1986, but now earns more than 30,000 taka per month from her business of hand made products, bags, purses, wall mats and other traditional items. She joined WEAB soon after its inception in 2000. At that time, she had 250 employees. Now she has more than 500.
 
"Before, I traveled only within Bangladesh, going to melas and fairs to sell my goods," she told me, a story I heard from many WEAB women. "Now, I regularly travel to India, but also sell my products to London, America and, most recently, Italy." She is also proud of the fact that she has opened her own store in Nawabganj and supplies products to more than fifteen other stores around Dhaka City.
 
Another amazing success story came from Rina Rahman who also runs a store in Dhaka. She never attended university or studied business. Her interest in flower arrangement developed while she was a member of the Dhanmondi Flower Club.
 
After winning a few prizes in the local competition, she was encouraged to sell her flower arrangements on the market. She also started with roughly 5000 taka in 1986. In 2001, she joined WEAB.
 
The first year of her membership, she went with the WEAB women to Delhi where she was given first prize in the category of dried flowers. Since that time, she has traveled to Malaysia and returned to India, each time with great success. She hopes to expand her market to London soon as well.
 
One of the most well-traveled women in WEAB has to be Veena Ahmed. One of the founding members of WEAB, Veena has been to trade fairs in Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Malaysia, Myanmar, Sweden, London and the United States. Her shop located in Banani, provides her a base for her more than 160 employees. When she joined WEAB, she had just 60.
 
Like many of the other women I talked to, Veena had high praises for WEAB's role in building her business. In 2002, she attended the "Regional Policy Seminar on Women Workers in the Informal Sector" in Nepal. She has also attended training sessions on banking, sales, how to export, agro processing and jobs creation. She also applied and received a loan to help develop her business, thanks to WEAB. Veena told me, "WEAB has given all of us a sense of independence. We now have confidence to talk business, travel and attend functions on our own, without depending on our husbands or families."
 
Fauzia Amin was also a long time entrepreneur before joining WEAB. She wanted to offer traditional clothing, but with unique designs, to the buyers of Dhaka. Her products, traditional hand loom saris and dress materials, were developed with her own unique sense of fashion. She, along with two partners, opened her first boutique in 1984. Later, her two partners left and she struggled to keep her business alive. That all changed after she joined WEAB.
 
Now, she has two stores, both larger than the one she started in 1984. She has over 200 women and 20 officials working for her and her products are drawing attention from women throughout the region. WEAB has given her confidence and a sense of direction for the future as well as success now.
 
On one final note, I was greatly pleased to see that these women are not just out to make their fortunes, but are all interested in developing Bangladesh over all.
 
The create jobs for poor women and at the same time teach them certain skills at particular production lines.
 
All of them have the same goal, to improve their produces and market them at home and abroad.
 
WEAB assists its members by doing both.
 
 
Twelfth SAARC Summit in Islamabad
 
Twelfth SAARC Summit in Islamabad: New Impetus to Regional Cooperation in South Asia

Professor Mustafizur Rahman Research Director Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), Bangladesh
 
 
The Charter of the South Asia Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was adopted in Dhaka in 1985 with the aspiration of building a prosperous and peaceful region among seven neighbouring countries. The institutional framework of regional cooperation was inspired by the vision to promote individual empowerment and collective self-reliance based on accelerated economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region. The guiding principles of this process of regional cooperation were inspired by respect for sovereign equality, territorial integrity, political independence, non-interference in the internal matter of other states and mutual benefits.
 
Regrettably, pace of implementation of these lofty ideas, which are enshrined in the SAARC Charter, has fallen short of the aspiration of the people in South Asia. Over the last two decades, the heads of the governments of the seven countries have falteringly met for twelve meetings to chart their way towards the solution of their common problems; but the state of regional cooperation has continued to move at a low gear, quite often stalled by bilateral acrimony. Thus one observes that, whilst many countries in other regions have achieved progress during the elapsed period taking recourse to effective regional cooperation as a tool for national development, South Asian countries - notwithstanding being one of the pioneers of the said concept - have lagged behind because of a serious dearth of demonstrated political will.
 
However, the outcomes of the twelfth SAARC Summit, which was held in Islamabad in January 2004, have once again generated fresh hopes about the prospect of regional cooperation in South Asia, particularly in some key socioeconomic areas.
 
The Islamabad Declaration
 
The Islamabad Declaration of the twelfth SAARC Summit calls for a greater cooperation among the member states and resolved to reinvigorate the organisation. The summit took a number of operational decisions which included, inter alia, the following.
 
* The signing of the Framework Agreement on the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA).
 
* Undertaking a study on creating a South Asian Energy Cooperation including the concept of an Energy Ring.
 
* The SAARC FINANCE will examine the prospects for setting up of a South Asian Development Bank.
 
* The year 2004 has been declared as the "SAARC Awareness Year for TB and HIV/AIDS".
 
" To commemorate the twentieth year of the establishment of SAARC, the year 2005 has been designated as "South Asia Tourism Year".
 
* The Plan of Action on Poverty Alleviation prepared by the meeting of Finance and Planning Ministers in Islamabad in 2002 was approved.
 
* The Independent South Asian Commission for Poverty Alleviation (ISACPA) was entasked to prepare and submit to the next SAARC summit a comprehensive and realistic blue-print setting out SAARC Development Goals for the next five years.
 
* The SAARC Secretariat is to periodically update and submit Regional Poverty Profiles.
 
*A network of Skill Development Institutes (SDIs) across South Asia is to be developed.
 
*Progress was noted in the constitution of SAARC Autonomous Advocacy Group of Prominent Women Personalities (SAWAG).
 
*Member States were urged to move towards an early ratification of the two Conventions on Child Welfare and Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution.
 
*A SAARC Health Surveillance Centre and a Rapid Deployment Health Response System are to be set up to deal with the emerging and re-emerging diseases.
 
*Establishment of a SAARC Cultural Centre in Kandy was welcomed.
 
*The early establishment of the Coastal Zone Management Centre in the Maldives was also noted with satisfaction.
 
*Undertaking a study on creating a South Asian Energy Cooperation including the concept of an Energy Ring.
 
*The SAARC FINANCE will examine the prospects for setting up of a South Asian Development Bank.
 
*The year 2004 has been declared as the "SAARC Awareness Year for TB and HIV/AIDS".
 
*To commemorate the twentieth year of the establishment of SAARC, the year 2005 has been designated as "South Asia Tourism Year".
 
The Plan of Action on Poverty Alleviation prepared by the meeting of Finance and Planning Ministers in Islamabad in 2002 was approved.
 
*The Independent South Asian Commission for Poverty Alleviation (ISACPA) was entasked to prepare and submit to the next SAARC summit a comprehensive and realistic blue-print setting out SAARC Development Goals for the next five years.
 
*The SAARC Secretariat is to periodically update and submit Regional Poverty Profiles.
 
*Towards the establishment of a Regional Food Bank, a concept paper is to be prepared. Arrangements for SAARC Food Security Reserve to be made more effective.
 
* A network of Skill Development Institutes (SDIs) across South Asia is to be developed.
 
* Progress was noted in the constitution of SAARC Autonomous Advocacy Group of Prominent Women Personalities (SAWAG).
 
* Member States were urged to move towards an early ratification of the two Conventions on Child Welfare and Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution.
 
* A SAARC Health Surveillance Centre and a Rapid Deployment Health Response System are to be set up to deal with the emerging and re-emerging diseases.
 
* Establishment of a SAARC Cultural Centre in Kandy was welcomed.
 
* The early establishment of the Coastal Zone Management Centre in the Maldives was also noted with satisfaction.
 
* The need to expedite the preparation of a SAARC state of environment report and the commissioning of the work on drafting a Regional Environment Treaty was underscored.
 
* The signing of the Additional Protocol to the SAARC Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism to deal effectively with financing of terrorism.
 
* Institution of the SAARC Award on the basis of a concept paper drawn up by the Government of Nepal.
 
* Establishment of a SAARC Information Center in Kathmandu was agreed upon.
 
However, Importance of two particular decisions of the last SAARC summit needs to be specially highlighted. These are adoption of the framework agreement of the South Asian Preferential Agreement (SAPTA) and signing of the SARC Social Charter.
 
 
Framework Agreement on SAFTA
 
It may be recalled that the regional countries agreed on a Framework Agreement of the South Asian Preferential Trading Arrangement (SAPTA) back in 1993 and since then four rounds of SAPTA negotiations have been held among the participating countries. Despite these rounds of negotiations under SAPTA, the growth of intra-regional trade has been negligible among the South Asian countries till now. On average, only about 4 per cent of total global trade of SAARC countries is accounted for by intra-regional trade, Which is well below the level attained by regional blocs such as NAFTA, EU or ASEAN where such trade ranges from 30 per cent to 60 per cent.
 
Moreover, intra-SAARC investment is also negligible, except Indian investment in some of the LDCs, particularly in Nepal. Till now, the South Asian countries have concentrated their efforts in attracting FDI to their respective countries and a comprehensive strategy to enhance and stimulate intra- region investment has been absent. To a large measure, low intra-regional trade is also a reflection of the insignificant flow of intra-regional investment.
 
Established with a vision of freer trade area in the region, SAPTA was ultimately proving to be highly laborious and time-consuming and had hardly made any impact on the intra-regional trade transactions. Especially it was turning out to be a cumbersome commodity-by-commodity negotiation, where the highly traded goods were not included in preferential lists. Thus it became necessary to provide a strong impetus to the regional trade cooperation through a more effective proactive mechanism.
 
It has been urged during the Twelfth SAARC summit that SAFTA will open up new avenues of economic co-operation to benefit more than 1.4 billion people of the' region. The framework agreement that was decided to come into force by January 2006 envisages reduction of tariffs up to five percent by non-least developed countries in seven years and by least development countries in ten years. Each of the member state will also be allowed to maintain a sensitive list of products for which tariffs protection will be maintained. SAFTA may also help in evolving a horizontal specialization across the region to enable the most optimal utilisation of the synergies of the member countries for their mutual advantage.
 
To realise the potentials of Framework Agreement on SAFTA, development of infrastructure in the region is one of the main steps that should be accomplished. Measures should also be taken to facilitate flow of intra-regional FDI as well as FDI from overseas. Supply-side capacity building is another important step for export growth and diversification in the region. Thus, exploiting the full potential of SAFTA by efficiency-seeking integration of regional economies through freer trade, South Asia would be able to generate high employment and income and help the region in its fight against poverty.
 
 
SAARC Social Charter
 
An improvement in trade gives a feasible rise in employment, which in turn helps to control poverty. The member countries of SAARC have also been working on the issues related to women and poverty of South Asian countries since its establishment, though not much progress has been achieved in these fields till now.
 
The heads of state and government of SAARC countries signed the SAARC Social Charter after the inaugural session of the Summit. The Social Charter focuses on the issue of poverty in South Asia by highlighting the need for ensuring entitlement for employment, food security, housing and health. The SAARC Social Charter also emphasizes the urgency to undertake policies and programmes aimed at enhancing the income earning capability of the poor of South Asia and their access to resources to enable them to enter the mainstream of development.
 
The Social Charter adopted at the Islamabad Summit acknowledged that all practices which discriminate women are offences against human rights and dignity and there is a need to prohibit all sort of violence against women. The Charter agreed that appropriate measures should be taken to ensure an enabling environment for effective participation of women in the local, regional and national development processes, on equal terms with men, and also for the enjoyment of their fundamental freedoms and legitimate entitlements. The countries agreed to the need of empowering women through literacy and education, combating and suppressing all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of women. Towards this end, the Summit has resolved to establish mechanisms and institutions at the regional level to promote the advancement of women as an integral part of mainstream political economic, social and cultural development.
 
Having generated such high expectations through their fresh expression of commitment towards enhancing regional welfare, it now to be seen whether our national leaders will be as good in delivering the promised results.
 
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