The Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship (ICE) Centre of Dhaka University has launched a project to help create an effective business environment for Cottage, Micro, Small, and Medium Entrepreneurs (CMSMEs) in Bangladesh.
The ICE Centre announced the project titled REVIVE in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Bangladesh on its second anniversary celebration on Thursday.
The areas the project will be highlighting are confidence building, providing advisory services, facilitating effective policy formulation, and strengthening the supply chain network.
Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun attended the programme as the chief guest.
He said that Bangladesh is now on its journey towards achieving SDGs by 2030, becoming a developing country by 2041. To build a sustainable Bangladesh, collaboration and partnership is important, he added.
"The launch of the REVIVE project aims to facilitate creation of an effective and enabling business environment for the CMSMEs as a part of a collaboration between ICE Centre and the UNDP," he said.
"In Bangladesh, we consider CMSMEs as a driving force for our socio-economic development as this sector has created millions of employment opportunities," he added.
Sheikh Fazle Fahim, president of the FBCCI, and Van Nguyen, deputy resident representative of the UNDP Bangladesh were present as special guests at the programme.
Sheikh Fazle Fahim, also a board member of ICE Centre, cited the impact of Covid-19 on the economy in his speech.
He said, "Bangladesh government's four key economic interventions prioritised government expenditure for money circulation, increasing banking liquidity, food aid to 45 million people and cash transfer to 5 million families."
"Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's comprehensive financial stimulus package of $12.1 billion under 19 categories targeted to extensively support businesses, exports, agriculture, and the informal sector including the marginalised communities has also played a very important role," he added.
He said that since the declaration of the stimulus, the FBCCI has engaged in policy simplification with the finance ministry and the Bangladesh Bank.
"Help desks were set up throughout the country at district chambers, associations, and at FBCCI. The central bank included collateral-free loans and FBCCI chambers and associations for KYC support to banks and loan recovery for CMSMEs," he said.
According to him, despite all this, the amount of incentive loans allocated for CMSMEs and agriculture is disappointing due to the reluctance of banks to stand by NGO lending activities.
Fahim said the Bangladesh Bank has issued a notification to the banks to solve the problems faced by the people during the weekly holidays.
"However, the managing directors and deputy managing directors of most banks may not have read it. One of the agendas in the April notification was to set up help desks, but banks are yet to set up help desks for incentives in most of their branches despite our full support to implement the incentive packages," he added.
Fahim also mentioned that the FBCCI, since February this year, sat in dialogues with stakeholders at home and abroad on stimulus recovery and sustaining the economy. Besides, several social and philanthropic initiatives were also taken to aid the front-liners and marginalised groups.
Van Nguyen, deputy resident representative of the UNDP Bangladesh, talked about distressed women entrepreneurs affected by Covid-19 as 52% of CMSMEs closed and 28% showed a plummeting business during the shutdown.
"We are going through a historical moment – a moment of choice – how we respond to the crisis matters. It should not be at the expense of our future generations. Our policy choices have to help us build better and greener."
About the REVIVE project, she said that the initiative will let people receive free advisory business services. She urged all the stakeholders to act in unity and solidarity.
Professor Md Akhtaruzzaman, vice-chancellor of the University of Dhaka, who chaired the programme, said, "Youths are the wealth of today's world. The centre will be accommodating youths from different sectors. It is not only celebrating its second birthday but also launching the REVIVE project that targets the youths and CMSMEs."
Md Rashedur Rahman, executive director of ICE Centre, made the opening remarks at the programme while Khurshid Alam, assistant resident representative of UNDP Bangladesh, was also present, among others.