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Tribune Talks: Women entrepreneurs for business diversification in post-Covid economy

  • Published at 10:10 pm June 28th, 2020

They also said almost all economic activities have hit an impasse as buyers and sellers cannot interact due to the crisis

Women entrepreneurs emphasized the practice of virtual marketing to revive businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic.

They said almost all economic activities have hit an impasse as buyers and sellers cannot interact due to the crisis. In this situation, they said, online marketing could be a solution to keep the flow of business intact.

They expressed their views addressing a webinar on Bangladeshi women entrepreneurs amid the Covid-19 pandemic on Saturday.

Dhaka Tribune, as part of its "Tribune Talks" dialogues, arranged the webinar, "Bangladeshi Women Entrepreneurs in Coronavirus Pandemic: Can SMEs Survive the Pandemic?" which was broadcast live on Dhaka Tribune's Facebook page.

Rokia Afzal Rahman, president of Bangladesh Federation of Women Entrepreneurs, said, "Once we survive this crisis, we have to think about diversifying our business. We can think about web portals so that small entrepreneurs at marginal levels can sell their products." 

“We have to bring change by adapting with technology as well as rethinking about our business. After the pandemic it will be very challenging to do our business and in that case we have to think of new ways to diversify our products and assess customer requirements, as well as market demand,” she suggested.

“Computer skills and online marketing training have to be provided to rural entrepreneurs to bring them under the virtual platform,” Rokia added.

Afsana Asif Shoma, managing partner of ASIX, said due to the pandemic, foreign buyers cancelled all orders. 

"Now we are going for online marketing and branding. It is the only way for our business to survive," she remarked. 

“ASIX, which usually produces handicraft products, had to diversify towards making masks to survive. Now we produce them for both local and international markets,” Afsana added.

Ambareen Reza, managing director and co-founder of foodpanda, said: "In this crisis, we have to worry about the security, safety and hygiene of the food we deliver. For ensuring safety, we are providing training to our employees along with entrepreneurs."

“In our company we don’t have pay cuts or job cuts. Our restaurant industry is formed with small entrepreneurs and now most of them are without work. We have started different promotions with customers to generate demand to help restaurateurs,” she added.

Kamrul Mehedi, head of small business at City Bank Limited said: "During the pandemic we communicate more with our customers to gather data about them." 

“After getting the government stimulus package, we made a disaster assessment to understand existing customer fund requirements,” he said.

“It is true that banks have no rural structure to provide loans to affected entrepreneurs. Banks also don’t have enough data on their customers like NGOs do,” he admitted.

Esha Aurora, assistant news editor of the daily, moderated the session.

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