From Where I Stand: When you know your business, no one can hold you back
Interviewed by Shararat Islam
My husband and I initiated our tech start-up BornoIT in 2016 to develop business software and websites for small businesses across a range of sectors. Today we have 11 employees, six of whom are women. In my experience, women often feel they need a little longer to understand the work, but once they do, they accomplish it with greater efficiency, on time, and with fewer errors. It's different with men. Men will say that they catch on quickly, but they tend to make more mistakes. So I have to apply different strategies to manage them. The training from UN Women on the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) has been immensely helpful in promoting women in leadership roles and creating an enabling environment for them.
Being a woman in the tech field has been challenging. People tend to assume I don't know anything about business or IT and often do not listen to me. This is due to their social conditioning. We have been taught that business and tech are men's domains. So I put myself in clients' shoes, respond to their queries, and explain our solutions. When you know your business, no one can hold you back. This principle has contributed to us building a loyal customer base.
Since college, I have wanted to walk down my own entrepreneurial path. In a “normal” job as an employee, one has to work within a limited space and under set guidelines. But entrepreneurs can work independently and not be boxed in.
"We have been taught that business and tech are men's domains. So I put myself in clients' shoes, respond to their queries, and explain our solutions.”
— Priyanka Rani Sur, BornoIT, Bangladesh.
We founded our new venture Deshi Feriwala, meaning “country hawker”, in 2020 during the COVID-19 lockdown. I thought of this website to help local artisans who lost their jobs due to the pandemic. We started selling Jashore's famous Nakshikatha, quilts embroidered in a centuries-old tradition, created by local artisans, as well as jaggery from local hawkers. The small venture has become another business wing of BornoIT, with 72 local women artisans working for us as contractors. It is always difficult for women to access the market or find accurate information. This is another significant aspect of our commitment as a WEP signatory.
There is no shortage of ideas, but we need more investment and a bigger market. I want to create a business that treats women and men equally and ensures larger participation of women from the community. Then, the sky is the limit!
Women’s Empowerment for Inclusive Growth (WING) programme focuses on increasing women’s participation in the local economy by linking them to public-private financial institutions and local and regional markets. It is a joint initiative of UN Women, the UN Capital Development Fund and the UN Development Programme, supported by the Government of the Netherlands.
To know more about WEPS please visit: https://asiapacific.unwomen.org/en/countries/china/weps