No Poverty

Selima Ahmad (2014 Business for Peace Honouree, Bangladesh)

Vice Chairperson, Nitol Niloy Group and President, Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BWCCI)

What is your company doing?

My company has been deeply committed in the struggle to build a business that promotes ethical values. Along with other existing projects, I am also working on some special and unique projects where we are providing training to marginalised women in remote areas to use natural fibres (banana stems and pineapple leaves) and renewable energy to initiate entrepreneurial initiatives in green businesses. This is promoting environmental sustainability and reducing the health hazards of women and children. I am also leading a project that aims to empower women with increased access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, with a commitment to reducing cervical cancer.

Why are you doing it?

In Bangladesh, 87 percent of women face domestic violence. As a highly populated, poor country, giving women access to the economic arena is a tool for ending this violence. Women entrepreneurs have reported that they were voiceless in their family when they were not in businesses, but that they now have greater control over their family decisions, their mobility and over monetary related matters. We have seen that these women do not face domestic violence and live with respect and dignity, their children go to school and eat nourishing foods.

What is the impact?

- 390 women leaders who aspire to run for office on issues like value based democratic practices and responsible politics - As a result of our advocacy initiatives, the central bank allocated collateral free loans to women entrepreneurs at a 10% interest rate, which is the lowest in the country. 11,600 women took these loans, which totalled USD 134.45 billion. - The government also allocated USD 12.88 million to develop and sustain more women in businesses - As of March 2016, 30,276 women have received business development and capacity building training to improve their businesses - Construction has begun for a training institute and seven resource centres - 1,287 Women Entrepreneurs have participated in 34 international and 174 national trade fairs

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