(Women Entrepreneurs' Association)
Women Entrepreneurs Association, Bangladesh (WEA) was founded in 1994. This organization has a membership of women business owners and women business owner organizations throughout Bangladesh. WEA was founded as a result of the scintillating energy and enthusiasm generated by 150 women entrepreneurs participating in a workshop on "Women in Business" funded jointly by Norad & ILO, it was organized by the Bangladesh Employers’ Association. This workshop held on the 18th and 19th December, 1993 was inaugurated by the then Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia, the Chief Guest at the closing session was the leader of the opposition Sheikh Hasina.
WEA aims at the identification and evaluation of national measures related to start-ups, information, advice, facilitating access to credit, mentoring and networks concerning the promotion of female entrepreneurship.
Counselling is designed for both groups and individuals. Group based counselling give women a chance to make contacts, to network and to learn from the experience of others. Individual based counseling allows women to receive highly effective advice directly related to the problem they face.
Measures supporting enterprise start ups are focused on sectors that can provide women with an adequate income, thereby increasing women’s financial self sufficiency. Women are supported to move into higher value markets in traditional or new sectors.
Some common interests emerge when women entrepreneurs are asked what they need to grow their businesses.
- Access to information, including training, technical assistance and technology.
- Access to Capital.
- Access to markets, both domestic and international
- Access to networks, both in the form of women’s business association and broader industry and trade bodies.
- Recognition, being taken seriously and being recognized as a valid population of entrepreneur as leaders.
The first five years WEA built a strong base for its members in Dhaka to be able to facilitate some of the activities undertaken by the organization:
- Women to Women Support Programme. An existing Women Entrepreneur becomes a mentor for a potential Women Entrepreneur and holds her hand for one year after which the new person is referred to a financial institution and she is launched into her new business.
- A chain of Marketing outlets. WEA supported its members who owned and managed marketing outlets financed by MIDAS.
- Awards were given annually to a rural woman, an urban woman, and an institution that is supporting women entrepreneurship.
- Training: Training Programmes were organized for members. Members of WEA become Trainers for women in start-up workshops for women interested in business.
Five years later WEA jointly organized training both management and skilled all over Bangladesh with its affiliates Chittagong WE, Khulna WE, Bachte Sekha in Jessore, TMSS in Bogra. Addressing women in secondary towns and women at grassroots. Greater recognition for women in business is without a doubt the key objective that WEA will be pursuing