USAID Trade Project in Bangladesh Removes Obstacles for Women to Register Businesses

In Bangladesh, more than 13,000 business entities are registered with the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms (RJSC) annually. However, only 5 percent are represented by women. Women have reported that they find it uncomfortable and intimidating to visit the RJSC head office in Dhaka, often sending male counterparts or legal representatives instead, adding cost and time to comply with Bangladesh formalities for starting a business.

Thanks to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-supported Feed the Future Bangladesh Improving Trade and Business Enabling Environment Activity, women entrepreneurs and visitors traveling to the Dhaka RSJC office will now have a dedicated service desk, washroom, and seating in an effort to create a more welcoming environment.

Nadia Binte Amin, the President of the Women Entrepreneurs Network for Development Association appreciated the initiatives and said ”RJSC is actively taking steps to improve the registration process and address the needs of women entrepreneurs. This progressive transformation that is specially undertaken for women will certainly encourage more women to start up their dream businesses who were perhaps stepping back before due to the lack of a women-friendly environment at the registration office.”

Photo: The women entrepreneurs appreciate RJSC’s initiatives for a women-friendly business registration process. Credit: Checkmate Events

This will enable more women, who comprise a major percentage of the country’s 1.2 million e-commerce owners and 150,000 online retailers to contribute more fully to the nation’s economy. Following the success of this model in the Dhaka office, the RJSC will direct its divisional offices in Chattogram, Khulna, and Rajshahi to upgrade their facilities to better provide more inclusive services to all of Bangladesh’s entrepreneurs in 2023.

“While bringing equality to women in society can be often complex, with issues rooted in culture and socio-economic norms, institutions can often make simple changes in the way they operate that make significant improvements for women. The Trade Activity advises its stakeholders to listen to their female clients and make simple but effective changes to encourage women to fully participate in their services,” said Marc Shiman, Chief of Party, Feed the Future Bangladesh Trade Activity.