- Success Stories
Beauty with Brains Going Places
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As a woman in Bangladesh, it is extremely difficult to set up your own business. There are multiple barriers at every step of the way. However, these women did not let anything stand in their way and went on to become successful entrepreneurs.
Bangladesh is not an easy country to be a women entrepreneur in. According to the MasterCard Index of Women Entrepreneurs 2018, Bangladesh was ranked last out of 57 countries in the index, falling behind countries such as Saudi Arabia, Malawi and India. However, women in Bangladesh did not let the barriers dissuade them from establishing their enterprises. The same Index shows that when it comes to the percentage of women entrepreneurs, Bangladesh ranks higher than countries like the United Kingdom, United States, Germany, France, Italy and India. Here are ten of these inspiring women who did not let anything get in their way to establish their own business:
Samira Zuberi Himika
Samira Zuberi Himika is the founder director of Team Engine, a social enterprise which works on entrepreneurship development, provides SMEs with all kinds of support. Ms. Himika is an entrepreneur, communications and development sector specialist and an artist running 4 companies/entities: GIGA TECH (tech company), Team Engine (social enterprise), Inspira Advisory & Consulting (strategic consultancy company), and Bangladesh at Heart (non-profit/Trust).
Ms. Himika is a first generation entrepreneur who has played a strong role as Trade-body leader of the ICT industry of Bangladesh and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Building (SME, Startup and Social Enterprise ecosystems). She has mentored locally and globally, working extensively with governments, private sector, development sector and investor in more than 12 countries. Her company Team Engine ensures profit value and social value to target groups, through awareness campaigns, quality service, training, and resources and tools.
Ms. Himika has received numerous national and international awards and recognition such as “Global Women Leader for Social Development” by World Leadership Congress 2015 for her diversified initiatives for SME, ICT, Innovation, youth and women leadership, Culture. She was one of “Ten Outstanding Young Persons of Bangladesh 2015” as the most inspiring young leader of Bangladesh. She has recieved the “BBC Reith Award 2010” (best craft category) for BBC JANALA for extraordinary global innovation in enabling people to learn English language through mobile technology.
Luna Shamsuddoha is the President of Bangladesh Women In Technology and the Chairperson of Dohatec New Media. She is an entrepreneur in technology who is working with innovative programs and projects to help empower women in Bangladesh. Ms. Shamsuddoha is the first woman to head any state-owned institution in Bangladesh. She was awarded with an Honorary Special Recognition at the Global Women Inventors & Innovators Network, 4th Bi-Annual International European Women Inventors & Innovators Network Exhibition, Conference & Awards 2013 in Stockholm, Sweden. She received the Bangladesh Business Award in 2017 for her contribution to Bangladesh’s economy and was honored with Anannya Top Ten Awards for her work in local software industry as a women entrepreneur.
Farzana Chowdhury is the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Green Delta Life Insurance Company Limited. She was acknowledged as the winner for the Most Dynamic Women of the Year 2017 and is a living inspiration for all women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh. She is the first and youngest female Managing Director and CEO in the financial sector of the country and is recognized by the UN Global Compact as a local SDG Pioneer for women’s economic security for her initiatives which include Nibedita, a comprehensive insurance scheme solely dedicated for women. She has always been driven by the intent of adding value not just in the business field but in every aspects of her life. Ms. Chowdhury has received awards for her works in establishing gender equality from Women Economic Forum, Bangladesh Brand Forum, and SAARC Women Association. For more than two decades, in a country where insurance is least penetrated and at a time when it is needed the most, Ms. Farzana and her team were able to bridge this gap by embracing transparent processes and forthright practices. She has been and remains one of the leading figures in the Bangladesh insurance sector for her pioneering contributions in retail, SME and micro insurance.
Kohinoor Yeasmin is the CEO of Tarango. Tarango designs, produces and exports a variety of handmade products such as baskets, bags, rugs and seasonal decorations. All raw materials come from renewable sources: Seagrass, mela, jute and recycled materials like cement, rice bags and waste fabrics. The company has been fair trade certified by WFTO and aims to improve the socio-economic condition of the rural women they work with. Tarango works with more than 12,000 women all over Bangladesh. These skilled producers are trained by Tarango to make products with consistent quality and in line with international standards. Tarango is in the process of becoming a WFTO Guaranteed fair trade company, paving the way for women empowerment through creating employment opportunities for women.
Achia Khaleda Nila
Achia Khaleda Nila is the founder of Women in Digital, a social enterprise that has created programs to help women advance by providing access to a digital platform. Ms. Nila started her venture in 2013 and has ever since committed to empowering women through digitization. The WIDBD team provides a wealth of knowledge, training and resources to women in Bangladesh who demonstrate interest in developing digital products such as mobile apps, software, web apps, e-commerce sites and any type of graphic, animation etc. Currently, Ms. Nila works with an in-house development team which employs over 25 talented women. She has laid a stepping stone in creating an interest in technology among the women in Bangladesh by making them competent in this competitive market.
Taslima Miji is the founder and CEO of Techmania, an IT company which provides hardware and hardware related services to its customers. Ever since the start of her career, Ms. Miji has done remarkably well for the work she has done over the years. Her story is a real life example of how despite all the obstacles faced, her diligence in pushing her dream and her confidence in herself took her to where she is now. She is an inspiration to all the women out there and her life journey will surely encourage others to take the leap of faith to break the glass ceiling and think beyond conventional wisdom and limitation to push themselves a little further to make the impossible possible.
Maliha Quadir is the founder and Managing Director of Shohoz.com. Shohoz.com, owned by Shohoj Limited, is a premium online travel service provider which aims to make long distance travel in Bangladesh easy and convenient. Driven by the passion to serve customers better, Shohoz.com went on to pioneer the online travel industry by offering bus, train tickets, hotel reservations and ferry tickets. Ever since its inception, shohoz.com has made a radical impact in making live easy for the domestic commuters travelling around the city. Shohoz.com is growing its business operations and offering events and movie tickets along with transport tickets. Ms. Quadir has extensive experiences in digital services and investment banking industry. She recently ran Vistaprint's digital business in global emerging markets out of Singapore.
Ivy Huq Russel
Ivy Huq Russel is the Founder of Maya.com. When Ms. Rusell observed how women in Bangladesh suffered from the lack of access to important information, she vowed to change it. She founded maya.com.bd which provided an opportunity to improve lives of women in Bangladesh. The website serves as a virtual community that lets women from different places get together and share their knowledge. Later on, Maya launched an android based mobile application designed, developed and implemented by female engineers, doctors and entrepreneurs which allows its users to post questions anonymously on health, legal, psychosocial and other sensitive issues. It was the first ever women focused online based application in Bangladesh where women users could connect and find answers to all queries related to health and social issues and many other things. A former investment banker, Ivy’s philanthropic nature led her to launch the site in 2011, which along with positive responses, came runners up in the BRAC 40-year innovation competition. She plans to impact more lives as a helping hand handling the sensitive issues which are unaddressed and neglected in the society at large.
Bibi Russell is the Founder of Bibi Productions. She is an icon in the world of fashion and is constantly working towards the development and betterment of the country in the fashion industry. Ms. Rusell has worked as a fashion model for a few years. She founded her fashion house Bibi Productions in 1995. She has always been fond of fashion and believed that fashion played an important role in shaping up a society. She understood the potential of crafts work in Bangladesh and has been persistently working to save them. She has received many awards from reputable organizations. She continues to be a pioneer and an inspiration to others in the industry, making an impact in the fashion and textile industry.
Sabila Enun is the Co-Founder and Head of Communications and People at Dcastalia. Dcastalia, derived from the name Castalia Digital, inspires spontaneous flow of creative ideas and innovations. Since its inception back in 2008, it has delivered amazing and effective set of solutions for the small and medium enterprises to the top businesses in Bangladesh as well as having a profound impact internationally. While most people want stability and security in establishing their ventures, Ms. Enun had a different perception and thought that making her own identity was more important and has been very successful with her aspirations till date. Along with her entrepreneurial pursuit, Sabila also serves to a number of national and international organizations as a consultant and trainer.
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