March 13, 2014
Dr. Atiur Rahman, Honorable Governor of Bangladesh Bank,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Assalam alaikum and good morning.
I am deeply honoured to be invited to this momentous event which is highly relevant to social and economic development of Bangladesh that we, Japan International Cooperation Agency, JICA, has been engagaed in for forty years.
It was last September when Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made it clear in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly that Japan would put more emphasis on supporting women in its development assistance. In that speech, Prime Minister Abe cited an example of young Bangladeshi woman, Ms. Nilufa Yeasmin who is the mother of two.
Nilufa's professional title is "Poly-Glu Lady." "Poly-Glu" is a water purification flocculant made of fermented soya beans invented by a Japanese enterprise. The enterprise conducted a feasibility study with assistance of the Government of Japan and started a business in Bangladesh. It is necessary to teach people how to use "Poly-Glu" correctly at the outset, and, after some training, Nilufa and other "Poly-Glu Ladies" are serving as both salespersons and instructors. Though Nilufa herself could not realize her dream to become a doctor, by combining her income with her husband's, she is now able to send her children to higher education.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Bangladesh has been a model of how humankind copes with an extreme natural environment, for weather and geography have historically worked to cut one village off from another. This is a society that never waited for a higher authority to provide it with anything. The very isolation effected by floodwaters and monsoon rains has encouraged institutional development into more communal than hierarchical communities where women especially play a significant role. I am certain that Bangladesh is blessed with a long-established breeding ground of women entrepreneurship.
JICA has been supporting the "Financial Sector Project for the Development of Small and Medium sized Enterprises" of Bangladesh Bank. Through this refinancing scheme of 5 billion yen or 375 crore taka, Bangladesh Bank provides medium-to-long term investment credit to SMEs through 46 Participatory Financial Institutions.
Till today, more than 200 SMEs secured loans of 145 crore taka to enhance productivity in their business, thereby generating employment and bolstering the economy. Besides, Participatory Financial Institutions are developing their capacity through providing medium-to-long term credit to SMEs.
Furthermore, Bangladesh Bank and JICA have been trying to reach out to women entrepreneurs by hosting seminars and training across the country.
We JICA would like to continue to support further development of women entrepreneurship which is a time-honored and invaluable asset of Bangladesh.
Dhonnobad Thank you.