Cocoro Limited


HOME  >  REPORTS  >  Report on Japan Bangladesh Women Social Entrepreneur Dialogues 2014

REPORT    Sep 8, 2014

Report on Japan Bangladesh Women Social Entrepreneur Dialogues 2014


Cocoro Limited and Small & Medium Enterprise Foundation (SME Foundation) jointly organized the ‘Japan Bangladesh Women Social Entrepreneurs Dialogue 2014’. There were 22 participants in total including Japanese and Bangladeshi women social entrepreneurs, support organizations for women social entrepreneur, officers of international organizations such as JICA, universities, and NGOs. The session was successful because of their touching stories and warm comments.

Organizer:   Cocoro Limited/SME Foundation

Sponsors:   Embassy of Japan in Bangladesh, JICA Bangladesh Office, JETRO Dhaka Office.

The dialogue consists of two sessions. The first session was presentation and the second session was dialogue between the participants. In the briefing based on the two sessions, the dialogue finished after wrapping up the challenges and opportunities of collaboration between Japan and Bangladesh to support women social entrepreneurs in Bangladesh.

Session1: Case studies

Case 1: Asian Women Social Entrepreneur Network (Ms. Sayaka Watanabe, representative of re:terra)


The objective of Asian Women Social Entrepreneur Network is to promote collaboration between women social entrepreneurs in Mekong region, and it is expanding the activity to maximize the opportunity.

Asian Women Social Entrepreneur Seminar was held in Bangkok on August 2014 with an aim to expand opportunities by forming the network and sharing information for women social entrepreneurs working in Mekong region by sharing. Total 40 women social entrepreneurs working on the region got together in Bangkok and discussed over five themes: Understanding the current situation of Mekong region, advancement of Asian Women Social Entrepreneur, Building Women Social Entrepreneur Ecosystem, and Capacity-building.

Official Website:

Ms. Sayaka Watanabe, the representative of re:terra and the leading member of Asian Women Social Entrepreneurs Network, joined the dialogues and gave a presentation about the seminar held in Bangkok and the result of fact-finding investigation of women social entrepreneur in Southeast Asia. The presentation was well-organized, explaining the difference of legislative system, presence and absence of intermediate groups, fund-raising system based on the situations of each country,

Case 2: Women social entrepreneur in Bangladesh (Ms. Sabaz Rashid Diya, representative of One Degree Initiative Foundation)


One Degree Initiative, founded in 2005, is a social enterprise working on various projects by 7000 young volunteers and also actively supporting social entrepreneurs.

Ms. Diya introduced her own story about becoming a social entrepreneur and her challenges and an awareness of the issues. She started an activity to support floods victims with her friend when she was 15 years old, based on her saved pocket money. This experience gave her more motivation to make the society better place. Through the activity, she has experienced loneliness as a manager and realized the importance of mentor. She is working on supporting young generation who want to be entrepreneur because she thinks it is her mission.

She strongly states it is important not to fear any failure and to have guts trying to do whatever it is.

For more detail about Ms. Diya, please check the below link.

Case 3: Women Social Entrepreneur in Bangladesh (Ms. Samira Zuberi Himika, representative of Team Engine)


Ms. Samira Zuberi Himika, representative of Team Engine, is a pure Bangladeshi who is leading the social business world.

Ms. Himika gave a presentation on the operations of Team Engine especially about on-going National Entrepreneur Summit. This summit got total 32,000 visitors last year, and provided various programs such as seminar and workshop about corporate management on business, business planning contest. This summits will held in December 2014. As for collaboration with Japan, she suggests system development to strengthen the weakness of manufacturing in Bangladesh and people exchange program. In addition, the fund management not only fund raising in Bangladesh may be improved by the help of Japan.

For more detail about Ms. Himika, please check the below link.

Case 4: JICA Bangladesh activities to support entrepreneur in Bangladesh (Mr. Yasuhiko Yuge JICA Bangladesh Office Advisor for Private Sector Development)


Mr. Yuge gave a presentation on JICA Bangladesh activities for developing private sectors especially about developing SMEs and women social entrepreneurs. JICA Bangladesh promotes SME finance through Bangladesh central Bank and planning to support 400 SMEs in the initial stage. This finance scheme is not only for providing funds but providing combined program of mentoring and counseling for management, fund raising, and operating. JICA decided at least 20% of the targets will be women entrepreneurs. Mr. Yuge suggests the improvement of legislative system and regulation as for collaboration between Japan and Bangladesh companies. He also explained about Social Development Platform for Entrepreneurs developed by Cocoro Limited.

Session2. Collaboration between Japan and Bangladesh for Supporting Women Social Entrepreneur


In session 2, Dr. Ananya Raihan, Representative of and also the advisor of Cocoro, led the discussion as a moderator, and each participant gave opinions for the collaboration between Japan and Bangladesh.

What is Women Social Entrepreneur?

The concept of Women Social Entrepreneurs is new in Bangladesh. There is no particular and clear understanding about the difference between Entrepreneur and Social Entrepreneur. The dialogue began with sharing the participants’ impression of this concept.

Among various opinions, Ms. Diya’s definition was impressive. She defines social entrepreneur as ‘doing good for the people and doing good for yourself’. On the other hand, there is such an opinion that ‘no matter how a pharmaceutical company cures illness or heavy disease, if the is for profit-seeking, I don’t accept it as social enterprise’ and ‘women naturally suites for social entrepreneur because women originally care for family and community’.

It was difficult to put the concept into the clear framework, but we decided to proceed to a discussion by defining it broadly as women social entrepreneur is someone who works for profit with an aim to solve social problems.


What kind of support is required? 

One of the findings here in the discussion was that very few participants mentions the requirement for funds. A large number of participants thought it was much more important to have mentors than to have funding, for shaping ideas, transmitting technological know-hows, and providing a training for package and marketing.

It was impressive that there were huge expectations for Japan on manufacturing. Almost all of Bangladeshi social entrepreneurs are engaged in the service sector, and very few social entrepreneurs engage in manufacturing. Japan has a great power on technology, and they need the support from that perspective. Especially many people suggest support for quality management.


1) Successful Social Entrepreneur Business Model in Japan – Ms. Rokea Afzal Rahman, representative of Bangladesh Federation of Women Entrepreneurs

Bangladesh Federation of Women Entrepreneurs was established in 2006, and it promotes programs such as developing networks between women social entrepreneurs to support women entrepreneur.

Ms. Rokeya, the manager of one of the greatest corporate groups, argued that people are not satisfied as long as they are seeking only for-profit. The actual business is based on contribution for society. Ms. Rokeya is one of the admired women in Bangladesh who are promoting various activities to support women entrepreneurs.


2) I need ways to convey our products to Japan-Tania Wahab representative of Kariga

Ms. Taniya, a social entrepreneur of leather products, is a young manger has received various awards for her entrepreneurial success.

Ms. Taniya promotes her job with the strong will to make innovation of Bangladesh Leather Industry in addition to its own prosperity, and she is working on quality improvement of her leather company and a new market development. She promotes formation of an association and sharing of technology – which used to not be considered.


3) We need a support for technology and management issue– Kashfia Ahmed, representative of Win Incorporated

After Ms Kashifia spent total 7 years in Japan, including her PhD education at University of Japan as well as working, she came back to Japan to work on supporting agriculture and farmers through IT. Ms. Kashifia argued passionately that we have responsibility to build a strong base so that next generations will easily make innovation and solve the problems that we are facing now.

Cross-border collaboration between Japan and Bangladesh

The question remains: among various needs, how do we achieve cross-border collaboration between Japan and Bangladesh? There were some opinions that expected leadership from JICA to carry forward the collaboration, but at the same time, there are many opinions to build a system for collaboration between Japanese and Bangladesh private sectors.


From the participants in Japan side, there are various important comments based on their working experience. We introduce suggestion from Ms. Watanabe and Shimizu:


Three key points for the collaboration — Sayaka Watanabe, re:terra

Ms. Watanabe raised three important matters to be considered from her network development experience. The first one is to use ICT. Expo is effective but costly at the same time. Maybe there could be an idea to develop a system for marketing between both countries through ICT. Her second point focused on how to develop connections between stakeholders. It is unclear who does what between the countries. It would be a good idea to start from broadcasting information by writing articles and reports. The third point is technology. A technology-oriented startup company is keen to Europe and the US such as Silicon Valley, but she put an emphasis on that we need to attract them to come to Bangladesh market.


Three points that Bangladesh products could be sold in Japan- Ms. Yasuyo Shimizu, Japan International Corporation Center.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMs. Yasuyo used to work in a Japanese NGO based in Bangladesh and had experience in selling hand-made crafts made by rural women in Japan. Based on the experience, she raised the three key points so that Bangladeshi products could be sold in Japan. First point she raised was about quality. It is important to understand the key points of the quality and keep the quality. She had difficulty sharing and conveying the points to the local people. Second is to be punctual about date of delivery because Japanese buyers are strict on time. Third point is design. It is important to detect the design suiting for Japanese people.

DSCN9436 (1)

Closing of the Dialogue

Dr. Ananya Riahan raised seven brief points after the dialogue in order to achieve the collaboration.

1. Importance of Scalability (Good to learn from Ms. Diya and Himka’s know-how to connect people)
2. Necessity for growing fund
3. Collaboration for manufacturing and product development
4. Develop the method of communication to understand each other (Importance of Broadcasting Information )
5. Improvement of Bangladesh legislative system and regulation with an aim to mitigate hindrance for the collaboration
6. Sharing the successful examples including the steps until the success
7. Utilization of IT.

This dialogue was full of satisfying conversations as a kick-off meeting. Based on the result, Cocoro Limited will develop the next detailed action plan.

We highly appreciate for all the participants, all the supporting members of Embassy of Japan in Bangladesh, JICA Bangladesh office, and JETRO Dhaka office.


Back to Archive