Bangladesh to host the 13th ITC SheTrades Hub
With Bangladesh set to graduate from its least developed country (LDC) status in 2026, the country is looking to invest in women’s entrepreneurship to position its economy for success, post-graduation.
This development milestone may lead to the country losing access to various international support measures, such as LDC-specific trade preferences and official development assistance.
Delivering targeted support to women in business can help to strengthen the foundations of the economy, setting the country on a path towards sustainable, trade-led development.
Launching the SheTrades Bangladesh Hub
The Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Foundation partnered with the International Trade Centre (ITC) to launch – and become the host of – the SheTrades Bangladesh Hub on 15 March, becoming the 13th Hub to join the ITC SheTrades Initiative’s growing network, which currently spans Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America.
The event was attended by the Honourable Minister of Industries, H.E. Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun; Deputy Development Director of the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Duncan Overfield; Chairperson of SME Foundation, Masudur Rahman; and President of the Chittagong Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Director of SME Foundation, Monowara Hakim Ali.
Apart from receiving capacity building and business and investment opportunities through the ITC SheTrades Initiative, the Hub in Bangladesh will benefit from institutional strengthening and gender mainstreaming services offered by ITC.
For example, last December, Bangladesh joined focal points from 10 other SheTrades Hubs at a training-of-trainers programme on creating digital assets for your business, delivered in Mauritius. This approach forms part of the SheTrades Hub strategy to support host institutions with expanding their business support services for women.
The three-day launch event in Dhaka included a full-day workshop on visual communications for 50 Bangladeshi women-led businesses and a SheTrades Outlook Validation Workshop, where stakeholders discussed results and policy recommendations derived from data collected from 19 public and private sector institutions. Bangladesh was one of the first countries to roll out the ITC online policy tool SheTrades Outlook, in 2019.
“By equipping SheTrades Hub host institutions with the right set of technical skills and knowledge, we hope that they will design, tailor and implement their own programmes to address the specific needs of women-led businesses in their countries. This way, the impact we make will not only be additive – but also multiplicative.”
Fiona Shera, Director of Sustainable and Inclusive Trade, International Trade Centre
“The SheTrades Bangladesh Hub will play a crucial role in supporting women-led business in country and internationally. The United Kingdom is proud to be funding and supporting this important work in conjunction with the International Trade Centre and SME Foundation Bangladesh. The continued UK contribution represents our commitment to the programme, that spans across policy reforms, public and private sector partnerships for the benefit of women in business. We look forward to seeing women-led businesses and entrepreneurs participating in She Trades Hub activities to achieve their potential.”
Duncan Overfield, Deputy Development Director of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, United Kingdom
“Every year, SME Foundation provides services to more than 15,000 SME entrepreneurs with trade licenses. More than 60% of our constituents are women. These services include training on product design development, product diversification, export readiness, digital marketing, business and financial management, product marketing, buyer-seller and entrepreneurs-bankers matchmaking events. We look forward to bringing these services to the SheTrades Bangladesh Hub.”
Professor Masudur Rahman, Chairperson, SME Foundation, Bangladesh
Building on successes
The launch of the SheTrades Hub in Bangladesh builds on the progress of the SheTrades Commonwealth project in Bangladesh, which is funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. Since 2018, the SheTrades Commonwealth project has supported 360 women-led businesses from the IT and business process outsourcing and textile and apparel sectors. It has also worked with 22 private sector partners and the Business Initiative Leading Development to promote gender-responsive policies and data.
For more information about results and policy recommendations obtained from SheTrades Outlook, click here.
To learn more about the SheTrades Hub and its offerings, click here.