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Marginal women entrepreneurs will take forward By Aaurhi

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In Bangladesh, women are directly working with agricultural production including input collection, land preparation, using fertilizer, weeding, pest management, harvesting, seed production and preservation for next cultivation. They also involved in producing non-agricultural production to increase income through different income generating activities. But when it comes to the point of selling the production, women especially small and marginalized farmers remained absent. Their presence in the market is insignificant.

It is found that due to the informal laws of patriarchal practices in society, attitude and prevailing gender norms restrict women access to market and prevent them from taking control over their income. Such as unfair treatment of buyers and whole sellers,sexual harassment, unknown market situation, unequal competition, lack of infrastructural facilities (like rest room, day care center, toilet facilities, no specific space for women seller or producers), unknown supply chain, communication problem lack of skill etc. In one word, lack of gender sensitive market situation. These problems prevent women from getting involved with market and trade directly. Marginalized women and women living in poverty are more exteriors than other because of the powerstructure. For the country, economic growth of women participation is required equally to expand business and ideas.There are a lot small scale women entrepreneur, who are facing challenges to enter the local and national market with their products in Bangladesh. They are totally unknown about the national market demand and product flow. Nonetheless to increase income and sustainability of the business, relationship with national level market is essential for women.

There are a number of smallholder rural women entrepreneurs and women farmers, across the programmes and projects of ActionAid Bangladesh who are facing challenges. Under its “Promoting Opportunities for Women’s Empowerment and Rights (POWER)” project, ActionAid Bangladesh has been working for the empowerment of these women entrepreneurs. This project has been working with more than 6 thousand women at four upazilas in Gaibandha, Lalmonirhat and Dinajpur. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs is funding for this five-year long project started from January 2016. The specific objective of the intervention of the project is to increase the income of women and their ability to control their income, through practicing Climate Resilience Sustainable Agriculture (CRSA), accessing markets and recognizing, redistributing and reducing Unpaid Care Work (UCW). Not only creating gender sensitive market situation, ActionAid has been elevating the movement of chemical free safe food through its different initiatives. Promotion and apply of organic fertilizer, pest management system and using local variety seeds for cultivation instead of hybrid seeds are some of them. The latest addition of this continual effort is `Aaurhi-The POWER Boutique’ which is committed to fair trade.

Women farmers and small-scale entrepreneur will be selling their products directly to the consumers from `Aaurhi’. This outlet will be run by a Farmers Organization called- Kendrio Krishok Moitree. ActionAid Bangladesh is supporting this noble initiative. The objective of `Aaurhi’ is to promote gender sensitive market situation. So that women producers can boost up their business for mainstreaming their product in the market and get the profit. Simultaneously, `Aaurhi’ will bridge consumers and women producers to get the safe food and agro based product, which have been produced using Climate Resilient Sustainable Agriculture practice. In `Aaurhi’, there is a Coffee Corner, place for book reading and get together including the display corner of handicrafts.

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