The Financial Express

Women entrepreneurs get more than target from stimulus package for smaller units

| Updated: March 23, 2021 16:26:40

File photo used for representational purpose only File photo used for representational purpose only

The women entrepreneurs received 5.7 per cent of the Tk 200 billion stimulus package for CSMEs until February 25 last, according to Bangladesh Bank (BB) data.

The banks and financial institutions disbursed higher than the target set for the women entrepreneurs, belying allegations that they were not getting access to the package offered to overcome the setback of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In accordance with the guideline for the stimulus package, the women entrepreneurs are supposed to get at least 5.0 per cent of the support package for the cottage, small and medium enterprises (CSMEs), said a central bank official.

"So, we've been able to disburse more than the target," said a central bank official.

According to the latest BB data, 62 per cent of the package was disbursed until February 25.

However, the associations of the women entrepreneurs alleged that hardly any of their members received the benefit due to complex procedures and unwillingness of the bankers to give them the priority.

Since announcement of the stimulus package on April 13 last year, month-wise disbursements for all kinds of farms were very low due to the banks' lack of confidence in getting the money back.

The women entrepreneurs, who dominate the cottage and small enterprises category of industries, were not allegedly receiving due attention of the bankers. Many also alleged that they even do not get any information on how to apply for the loan from the stimulus package.

A recent survey conducted by SANEM on business confidence index also found that 55 per cent of the surveyed farms received loans from the stimulus package.

The survey was conducted on 502 farms in January last. Of them, only 110 farms were the package beneficiaries. These farms were also dominated by male partners, meaning that the female ones partially owned the farms.

President of Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry Selima Ahmad said that as women entrepreneurs start business with limited resources and fund, they need more support from the government to run their businesses after being hit by the pandemic.

"It is very urgent to provide most females in the business with loans at low interest rate," she told the FE over phone.

SME Foundation General Manager Farzana Khan said the foundation was trying to formulate a policy to disburse loans at 4.0 per cent interest among the women entrepreneurs.

A fund of Tk 1.0 billion has already been allocated to disburse through the foundation. Females will get the priority, she said.

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