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Huge scope for women entrepreneurs to participate in local procurement

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Janata Bank Chairman and BWIT President Luna Shamsuddoha emphasized the need for raising awareness and building the capacity of women entrepreneurs to ensure their participation.

Speakers at a consultation meeting have said that there is huge scope for women entrepreneurs to participate in local procurement.

Areas of local procurement where women can potentially participate include that of medical equipment, furniture, printing materials and stationery, they added.

The consultation meeting, titled “Engaging Women Entrepreneurs in Public Procurement and Corporate Supply Chain,” was organized by Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD) in collaboration with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Bangladesh Women in Technology (BWIT), at the BUILD office in Dhaka, yesterday.

Speaking at the meeting, BUILD CEO Ferdaus Ara Begum said: “In FY2018-19, the size of the Annual Development Program (ADP) is Tk1,730 billion, of which 70-80% will be procured locally by the government. So, there is a huge scope that women entrepreneurs can participate in the local procurement.”

After welcoming the participants, BUILD Chairman Mahbubul Alam urged women to come forward in a coordinated manner under a single platform, in order to strengthen their access to public procurement opportunities.

“The voices of women are important for reforms, interventions, and charting an agenda for governments, civil society, development agencies, and other stakeholders” he said.

BUILD Gender Consultant Mehruna Islam Chowdhury presented the keynote paper at the meeting. She highlighted barriers to women’s participation in procurement, which include the registration requirement for e-Government Procurement (e-GP), and a lack of capacity as per Public Procurement Rules (PPR).

She cited Kenya, India, Namibia, Brazil, and the Philippines as examples of countries where the procurement principles of equity and transparency are followed, helping ensure the participation of women in the procurement process.

Janata Bank Chairman and BWIT President Luna Shamsuddoha emphasized the need for raising awareness and building the capacity of women entrepreneurs to ensure their participation.

In the open session, a director of the Central Procurement Technical Unit (CPTU) highlighted some of the provisions of the PPR 2008 under which women entrepreneurs could have better access to participation in the procurement process.

The provisions included those for limited tender, cash purchase and quotation methods.
CPTU has been organizing a number of training programs, and the organization is interested in organizing training programmes specifically for women entrepreneurs, he added.

The CPTU director also requested that BUILD compile the recommendations from the consultation session, so that the CPTU could examine the reforms for implementation.
He further suggested that women entrepreneurs familiarize themselves with the online bidding process for procurement, as it is easy and convenient.

Roads & Highways Department Executive Engineer and National Procurement Trainer Nishat Noman stressed the need for the establishment of a help desk to support women entrepreneurs.

A representative from the Computer Council of Bangladesh assured that the council would extend support for any IT based project or training program for women entrepreneurs.
IFC Gender Specialist Tashmin Laila delivered a briefing on the activities of non-profit organization WEConnect International, to introduce women entrepreneurs to corporate supply chains.

Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce & Industries (BWCCI) Director Abida Ali also addressed the meeting, highlighting several reasons for which women were struggling to participate. Chief among them were problems regarding trade licenses, for which women entrepreneurs needed support.

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