Empowering Women Entrepreneurs: Successful Online Q&A Webinar on HR Strategy by WSME Business Support Center

Date: April 27, 2024
Time: 1:00 PM to 2:15 PM
Mentor: Shabnin Rahman, Senior Lecturer, Department of Management, NSU

The Women Entrepreneurs Business Support Center, a key initiative under the We-Fi project of the World Bank, successfully hosted an enlightening online Q&A webinar on HR Strategy on April 27, 2024. The webinar was led by Shabnin Rahman, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Management at North South University, and focused on innovative human resource strategies for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

In her opening statement, Shabnin Rahman highlighted the financial hardships commonly faced by SMEs, which often hinder their ability to invest in attractive HR strategies. However, she emphasized that SMEs could implement effective HR strategies without incurring significant expenses. The webinar covered crucial HR topics, including:

  1. Hiring Strategy
  2. Training and Development Strategy
  3. Retention
  4. Employees’ Expected Behavior & Ethical Issues

The discussion was highly interactive, with many women entrepreneurs sharing their experiences and plans for managing and utilizing their workforce. Rahman provided practical examples and insights, illustrating how SMEs can adopt HR strategies without a designated budget.

Hiring Strategy: Rahman explained that hiring can be done cost-effectively. She suggested leveraging networks to search for employees, offering incentives to team members, and instituting a “day in the life” program to assess candidates’ passion for the job. Ms. Shahina agreed, noting that entrepreneurs could indeed hire without significant expenses by following these strategies.

Training and Development: Due to financial constraints, women entrepreneurs often cannot hire expert workers and must train their employees from the ground up. Rahman emphasized the importance of a proper training and development strategy, especially when the business is on the verge of expanding and introducing new products.

Retention: Entrepreneurs expressed concerns about retaining employees after investing in their training, as trained workers often leave for better-paying jobs or start their own businesses. Rahman offered several key points to enhance employee retention:

  • Make workers feel connected to the business.
  • Ensure employees feel like an essential part of the team.
  • Foster a team-oriented environment without hierarchical barriers.
  • Always pay employees on time and maintain a safe, healthy working environment.
  • Provide small perks, such as free beverages and occasional team meals.
  • Offer moral support and reasonable financial advances when needed.

Ethical Issues: Rahman addressed concerns about employees engaging in unethical practices, such as sharing product designs and sensitive business information. She advised dealing with such issues professionally by terminating unethical employees promptly and ensuring that employees do not feel indispensable.

During the webinar, Rahman shared insights from the Western business world, where employees handling customers sign documents committing to the principle that “Customer is always right.” This practice fosters a culture of respect and attentiveness towards customers, which many participating entrepreneurs found valuable.

The session was highly productive, providing women entrepreneurs with practical HR strategies and fostering a deeper understanding of effective workforce management. The Women Entrepreneurs Business Support Center continues to empower women entrepreneurs by offering valuable resources and insights through such webinars.