In developing countries, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are seen as crucial for endogenous growth and development, as is evident in the fast-developing Asian economies; yet little is known about the role of women entrepreneurs in these environments (Tambunan, 2009). Bangladesh is an example of an Asian economy with dismal underdevelopment and a lowly 3.7 per cent economic growth measured in annual gross domestic product (GDP) during the 1980s. However, since the onset of the 1990s it started to grow at an accelerating rate with average annual GDP jumping to 4.8 per cent in the 1990s and accelerating in the decade of the 2000s to an average of just under 6 per cent. This was accompanied by a more than 5 per cent per capita income rise that represents a threefold increase compared to the 1980s (Osmani, 2010, p. 37). The role that women have played in the development of Bangladesh is little understood, which is surprising given that 47 per cent of all Bangladeshi women-owned firms are in manufacturing, a sector that has been the driver of growth in most economies (Zohir and Greene, 2012). Therefore, in this chapter we explore the growth experiences of women-owned urban-based manufacturing SMEs in Bangladesh.
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