To empower women business owners in Bangladesh to build resilience against risks to their livelihoods posed by climate change and support them in growing their businesses, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has formed a partnership with Nari Maitree, a prominent women-led organization in Bangladesh committed to empowering women and enhancing their socio-economic status through capacity building, partnership building and advocacy. Through the partnership, a pioneering project will be implemented to fortify the resilience of women-led Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) to climate change impacts in Bangladesh.
The project focuses on enabling access to finance, providing tailored training, and fostering partnerships to bolster climate resilience among women-led MSEs. Specifically, support will be provided to women entrepreneurs to access finance for climate-related initiatives, alongside the provision of targeted training and capacity building to raise awareness on climate risks and offer guidance to integrate climate resilience into their business models, while establishing networks for women entrepreneurs to collaborate and share knowledge, fostering collective action on climate adaptation and resilience.
Only a small proportion of registered MSMEs in Bangladesh are led by women, most of which are micro and cottage enterprises, although there a large number of unregistered women owned enterprises. These small businesses are highly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change and related economic shocks and setbacks. Moreover, small women-led business face barriers to accessing the finance needed build resilience against these risks and grow their businesses. More than 60 per cent of women in Bangladesh do not have access to finance due to institutional, cultural, social and economic barriers.
The initiative marks a significant stride in bolstering women’s entrepreneurship in Bangladesh, leveraging strategic partnerships and innovative approaches to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change on small businesses led by women.
The activities kicked off on with the project’s first workshop held in Dhaka Bangladesh on 14 December 2023, bringing together women entrepreneurs to raise awareness on the impacts of climate change and its impact on businesses, which will be followed up by tailored mentoring and training.
The initiative is funded under ESCAP’s Catalyzing Women’s Entrepreneurship (CWE) programme, supported by Global Affairs Canada, implemented in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji, Nepal, Samoa and Viet Nam. To date, the programme has directly benefitted 176,000 women entrepreneurs across the region through access to finance and enhanced skills to grow their businesses.