E-commerce, women empowerment,

E-commerce market empowering women entrepreneurs

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The advent of widespread internet access has ignited a surge in online business opportunities in Bangladesh. With the world increasingly embracing technology, Bangladeshi consumers now have a vast online platform that facilitates easy product purchases from the comfort of their homes.

E-commerce has experienced significant growth in Bangladesh, especially during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, as more people turned to online platforms for their shopping needs. This surge has also witnessed a revolutionary change in the sector, with a notable increase in the number of female entrepreneurs.

Despite a setback at the end of the previous year due to disruptions in some major online platforms, including Evaly, the government has taken steps to bring discipline to the sector through the Unique Business Identification (UBID) initiative.

Interestingly, a considerable portion of online platform owners are women entrepreneurs. These women pioneers express that while they are making strides and achieving self-dependence through e-commerce, they encounter challenges, particularly in wholesale markets that remain less women-friendly. However, they are optimistic that the situation will improve in the future.

Musfera Jahan, an entrepreneur, serves as the managing director of ‘Mom Fanush’ and the chairman of ‘Gerosto Bari.’ Both of her online platforms received registrations in the initial phase of the UBID initiative. ‘Mom Fanush’ specializes in boutique items, hand-painted goods, blocks, and handmade products, while ‘Gerosto Bari’ offers a range of ready spices.

Jahan shared her journey, stating, “I started my online business in 2017, initially as an online-only venture with the support of my family. Now, I’m also working offline in addition to the online presence.” She highlighted the growing success of e-commerce, emphasizing the preference for online platforms for both selling and buying, especially considering the busy schedules of working women who find it challenging to visit physical markets for shopping.

Addressing the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs, Jahan noted, “Though our businesses are online-centric, sourcing has to be done offline. I started with clothes. Now I have made a separate platform for spices. I have to check and bring clothes myself. For this, I’ve got to visit different parts of the country. As a woman, many times I felt insecure.”

Another woman entrepreneur, Faraha Diba, owns ‘nithanbd,’ specializing in men and women’s dresses, including panjabi, baby wear, and fashion accessories. Diba highlighted the common struggles faced by most women entrepreneurs, noting that establishing an independent business is indeed a challenging endeavor. She observed that many women commence their online businesses in midlife, but a growing number of female students are now venturing into entrepreneurship at an earlier stage.

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