UN fund to help over 100,000 Bangladeshi women entrepreneurs

11 October 2007 – A new United Nations-backed development project will help nearly 120,000 Bangladeshi microentrepreneurs – 90 per cent of whom are women – expand their small enterprises and develop new ones.

The UN International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) will provide a $35 million for the nearly $60 million Finance for Enterprise Development and Employment Creation Project.

The main participants in the initiative will be current successful microcredit borrowers whose businesses are crucial for the growth of the rural economy, and the project also hopes that some 200,000 jobs for extremely poor people will be created the newly-bolstered small businesses.

“The microenterprises create vital jobs for much poorer people who live well below the poverty line and often don’t have adequate housing or enough to eat,” said Nigel Brett, IFAD’s country programme manager for Bangladesh. “They often lack the confidence and ability to risk taking a microcredit loan to start an enterprise and would rather find employment in small local businesses.”

Although the project will be national in scope, it will target rural areas. It will train microentrepreneurs to manage their businesses more effectively and teach them how to boost the value of their products throughout the market chain, from the purchase of raw materials to the sale of finished products.

IFAD has supported 24 programmes and projects benefiting 8 million households in Bangladesh to date with loans totaling $424 million. The operations have worked to improve rural small entrepreneurs’ access to markets and credit and to increase women’s economic opportunities.

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