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Online business: WE turns a wheel of fortune for women entrepreneurs

  • Published at 03:06 pm August 10th, 2020
WE woman entrepreneur
Kakoly Russell Talokder, proprietor of Kakoly’s Attire, participates in an exhibition in the capital after registering with the online Women and e-Commerce forum (WE) Courtesy

Like Kakoly, around 100,000 small entrepreneurs have been actively doing business on the platform, including its social media pages, its groups and official website, helping them earn a good deal in the pandemic

Kakoly Russell Talokder, a small entrepreneur selling Jamdani sarees on her Facebook page Kakoly’s Attire, has experienced a huge jump in her business since joining the online Women and e-Commerce forum (WE) late last year.

“I started an online business early last year but did not get a good response. However, after I joined WE my sales jumped dramatically,” she said, adding that the Covid-19 pandemic had driven her business up at least three-fold.

"I sold goods for about Tk23 lakh in just a few months on the platform," the small entrepreneur said, adding that it had been nominal earlier.

Like Kakoly, around 100,000 small entrepreneurs have been actively doing business on the platform, including its social media pages, its groups and official website, helping them earn a good deal in the pandemic.

Owing to the coronavirus pandemic the country's economy has come to a standstill, with many losing their jobs and others having to take salary/wage cuts. 

In order to overcome this situation, many entrepreneurs, mostly women, began selling their products online as an alternative source of income.

Many are selling traditional items and/or handmade products from their homes across the country.

“Although the pandemic has had a bad effect on local businesses, it came as a blessing for online businesses," said Nasima Aktar Nisha, founder of WE.

She says women entrepreneurs face several obstacles in conducting their online business, despite the fact that the majority of e-commerce entrepreneurs in the country are women.

Established in 2017, WE now has 600,000 members. Most of them have joined in the past few months amid the pandemic, added Nisha, who is also joint secretary of  the e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-Cab).

Homemade foods, tea, Shital Pati products, local varieties of sarees like Jamdani, Monipuri and Tangail and scores of other products are commonly sold on e-commerce platforms.

Creating women entrepreneurs

In its first year, WE arranged offline workshops and networking sessions.

Later it took the initiative to provide training to 800 budding entrepreneurs with the help of Bangladesh High-Tech Park Authority and LICT project of ICT division, said Nasima.

"In the future, I would like this platform to go global so that women can play a vital role in boosting Bangladesh's economy,” she added.

Razib Ahmed, former e-Cab president, said that WE was not limited to a page on Facebook anymore, but was a thriving e-commerce platform.

"Consumers, both local and expatriate, are considering this platform as the best place for selling traditional and domestic products," said Razib.

Businesses on the platform

Salma Neha, who makes Chapaiwabganj's Chomchom, a popular dessert of the district, became financially solvent after taking her business to WE since joining the platform five months ago. 

Dipa Banik, who works with block and batik dyeing; Jannatul Ferdows Mohua, who sells cotton clothes for women; Aysha Siddika, who sells local fishes and Sultana Parvin, who sells furniture products, are some of WE's success stories.

They say they received training from WE which helped them to grow their businesses significantly. 

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