The Bangladesh Bank has made access to the Entrepreneurship Support Fund easier for women entrepreneurs in a latest amendment to its guideline issued on Sunday.
In the amendment, the central bank has added a definition for women entrepreneurs in the guideline for the first time so that they can get equity support to run their own projects.
To enhance food processing, agro-based, and information and communication technology projects, the government had introduced a fund named "Equity and Entrepreneurship Fund" in 2000.
In 2018, the fund's name had been changed to "Entrepreneurship Support Fund (ESF)," from which a business can get low-cost loan at maximum 49% of its equity. The loan interest is only 2%, and it is calculated as simple interest.
As per the Bangladesh Bank's latest instruction, a food processing and agro-based project can avail a term loan of Tk80 lakh to Tk5 crore from the fund, while machine-dependent projects can get maximum Tk12 crore loan as ESF credit.
Women entrepreneurs can avail up to Tk5 lakh loan from the fund, said the circular.
As per the definition, if a project's 51% share belongs to a women entrepreneur and if it is run by a woman, the project will be eligible for availing loan from the ESF.
The Bangladesh Bank has also eased its condition for women by stipulating that having at least one acre of land for their project will be sufficient for getting loans, while other projects need land worth at least 20% of the project expenses.
The expression of interest submission fee was also reduced from Tk5,000 to Tk2,000 for applying loan for agro-based projects, the circular said.
An official of the central bank told The Business Standard, "For crocodile farming, loan facilities have been increased to Tk8 crore as these projects need more financing."