North South University, School of Business and Economics
City Alo Women’s Entrepreneurship Certification Program
City Alo empowers women business owners in Bangladesh to be successful entrepreneurs in today’s digital business environment.
Call to Action
Even though the School of Business and Economics of North South University (SBE NSU) is known as the leader in business education in Bangladesh, it recognizes that there is a lot more to do for community outreach. In view of the global changes in job characteristics, the school realizes that entrepreneurship is a field not adequately explored by ambitious women.
The SBE NSU noted that many young women graduates are not seeking jobs, and they are instead interested in running their own businesses. The ubiquity of online business platforms presented opportunities for them to make productive use of their time. Another interesting point is that Bangladesh is a Muslim majority country where the government is more liberal, but it is evident that some influential clerics hold negative views of women taking an office job. The same problems are also faced by widows and divorcees, and operating a business from home allows them to avoid that negativity.
The SBE NSU found the City Bank a willing partner in launching the City Alo enlightenment program for women. The partners recognized that there was synergy in getting women trained for business; it turns out that women are better at managing money and avoiding undue risk and maintain a better bank balance than men. The confidence women have due to their available financial resources, coupled with the risk avoidance nature, make them better prepared for business.
City Alo empowers women business owners through skill enhancement, development of self-confidence, and establishment of a mindset that looks beyond the usual. While the program was in the development stage, the huge demand from women for such services was brought to the attention of SBE NSU. Women desperately needed exposure to business management tools and techniques. Examples:
- Running businesses on laptops and smartphones, building a better understanding of business development and management, using marketing tools, and gaining confidence
- Ensuring they did not miss out on the digital platform and knew more about operating and promoting their businesses
- Remaining fully independent and generating revenue on their own without getting stuck to a fixed office routine
- Continuing a business they inherited after the passing away of a father or husband
City Alo was designed to be easily adaptable and useful to micro and small businesses from the beginning. The structure includes a possible longitudinal study, measurement of the efficacy of the program based on a few criteria at different time intervals, and an increased level of confidence over time. Around 170 women from this program have already graduated, and the seventh group of approximately 30 womenwas due to begin by the end of October 2021.
City Alo was introduced to ignite the women’s inner selves and guide them forward with a pioneering sense of enlightenment. The target was to increase the financial opportunities for women engaged in various professional sectors through the bank’s suite of products and services whenever they search for reliability, comfort, and respect.
City Alo has collaborated on the development of an entrepreneurship program and provided exclusive entrepreneurial training and networking opportunities that help women of all backgrounds gain skills to elevate them in personal and professional life. It has been a stepping stone for many to learn how to start, operate, and grow a venture successfully. The program is flexible and capable of identifying ways to improve and contribute to their economic activities, thereby assisting them in personal fulfillment.
City Alo has been crafted to create an exclusive space for women in Bangladesh, however, women everywhere need to have financial liberty and be in control of their future. This will allow the country to prosper and achieve transformational development. City Alo will continue to encourage women to be financially independent, in control of their lives, and be assured that no one will be a victim of exploitation and deprivation.