As women-led organisations, Women’s Business Centres combine new technology and traditional practice to build and strengthen local economies that maximise social, economic, and environmental benefits for the communities where they live.
Formed using a mix of collaborative design processes, community mobilisation, and market assessment, centres are designed to build on the interests and skills of the entrepreneurs to respond to rapidly evolving markets and contexts. The result is a market-driven strategy that emphasises local authority and self-determination in pursuing the Sustainable Development Goals.
This grassroots approach is in response to traditional top-down methods of development that have failed to address systemic drivers of poverty and inequality in the Global South and continue to feed into extractive economies. Most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic and war in Ukraine have exposed the fragility of the global supply chain and underscored the need to resilient local economies that can protect themselves from volatility in the price and availability of commercial import and export markets.
WBCs recognize the importance of resilient local circular economies as a platform for community development and are positioned to capitalise on these challenges as opportunities for women’s leadership in the Global South.
The future of the WBC approach
In their early stages, women entrepreneurs and their WBCs remain vulnerable to economic downturn, the climate crisis, and pressure from economies at scale.
As such, it’s essential to identify more long-term investment for WBCs to grow beyond project-based support for initiation, and maintain a competitive edge to grow and support each other. You can find ways to support the formation of Women’s Business Centres and the expansion of new product offerings
Since the establishment of the first Women’s Business Centre in Bangladesh in 2016, and a pilot of 10 WBCs, there are now 450 WBCs and subcentres across Bangladesh which reach approx. 45,000 women producers and serve a population of around 2.5 million people.