Ensuring available and easy financing for the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will be an important step in helping them to recover from the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Policymakers, development experts and panellists made the suggestion at a policy dialogue titled "SMEs in Covid-19: Response, Recover and Resilience" over a virtual platform.
Aspire to Innovate (a2i) Programme of the Information and Communication Technology Division and the Cabinet Division, supported by the United Nations Development Programme in partnership with the Action Aid Bangladesh, jointly hosted the dialogue.
Md Mostaque Hassan, chairman (additional secretary) of Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation, spoke as the chief guest while Joint Project Director (Joint Secretary) of a2i Salina Pervez chaired the programme moderated by Anir Chowdhury, policy advisor of a2i.
Speakers discussed the challenges faced by the SMEs during the crisis as well as the responses to help the sector recover from the pandemic effects.
Mostaque Hassan said there should be a recovery fund to help the sector recover. Furthermore, restrictions imposed by banks should be eased to help SME entrepreneurs get loans.
Md Shafiqul Islam, managing director of the Small and Medium Enterprise Foundation, stressed the importance of bringing SME entrepreneurs on a single platform and build their capacity for online-based business.
"We need to expand the market through the use of technology and conduct social campaigns to market our products and incorporate policies to facilitate an enabling environment for SMEs," he said.
Farah Kabir, country director of Action Aid Bangladesh, focused on the significance of policy reforms, funding, digitisation and capacity development for the SMEs to recover from the losses caused by the pandemic.
She said the government needs to establish a recovery fund especially for the SMEs as they are very important contributors to the economy.
"Similarly, SME entrepreneurs should be brought under the umbrella of digitisation, and their capacity should be developed accordingly. Furthermore, women and youth entrepreneurs should be encouraged," she added.
Group sessions were also held on following topics: apprenticeship, entrepreneurship, database of SMEs and SME financing.