iDE Global
Asma Web Hover


Engineering Workshop Owner

Asma Akter, 38, is not only a successful entrepreneur in Bangladesh, but she is also the only female business owner in her area called Bogura Sadar. The path that led her to this unusual situation started out just like many women, but then her life took an unexpected turn.

Her family arranged for her to be married after completing 10th grade. In line with societal expectations, she focused on being a homemaker and caretaker of her three daughters, and she never took much interest in the small business that her husband ran. That all changed when he passed away unexpectedly in 2020, and in an instant she became responsible for supporting her family of four. She had no other option but to take charge of her husband’s company, Belal Engineering, a workshop manufacturing agricultural machinery. 

In the beginning, Asma struggled to understand business and management. She found that many partners and customers did not respect her just because she is a woman. But she didn’t let that stop her. Rather than become discouraged, she set out to acquire the skills and knowledge she knew she needed. Through her own industrious nature, she met iDE who introduced her to new dealers and a microfinance institution. She learned from iDE’s business training that she could grow the company by expanding her work force and providing them with training. She also applied for a loan. After one loan officer refused her for not having a male guarantor, eventually she was granted a loan of 3 lacs (≈ 3,500 USD) to fund her vision to expand. 

Today, Belal Engineering is growing. With eight staff members under Asma's leadership, they are manufacturing new and higher-quality products. 

What's next for Asma

Asma’s dream is to attract customers across a broader geographic footprint. Asma opened a Facebook page last year where she has been engaging with customers from Cox’s Bazaar, who paid her a visit when they came to her area, and made a substantial purchase.

“My mother is my source of inspiration. I lost my father, the only male member of the family at an early age. I have seen how much she struggled in a male dominated sector to support our business and family. I feel very proud to introduce my mother, a businesswoman.  She is not only supporting us but also supporting five other families to earn their livelihoods.” Faria (18) takes after her mother, helping her run the business, managing the clients and finances.

“I never thought it would be possible to run the shop as I was told I am a woman and cannot handle such a massive market and production. With my continuous effort, I believe I will be able to inspire other women to join the business and support their own dream. Now my children are also very proud and sometimes support me in the business.” —Asma Akter

Asma's Details

  • Bangladesh
  • Agriculture
Entrepreneur Impact
  • Availability of Technology
  • Advocating For Change
  • Local Economic Development
  • Supporting Services
  • Job Creation
  • Motivating Investment
Ecosystem Impact
  • Local Economic Development
  • Transformative Market Participation
  • Food & Nutrition Security

Country Profile

  • 133/189

    Human Development Index (HDI) Rank

  • 14%

    Poverty Rate

  • 166 Million People


iDE was started as a radical idea that business is a solution to move people out of poverty. 40 years later, we still don't give things away. We create long term change by powering entrepreneurs to end poverty for their families and communities.

Are you a journalist looking to write a story? Contact us here: