Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun on Sunday commented that though the Covid-19 pandemic devastated the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) globally, it has created new possibilities for the sector in Bangladesh.
The minister believes the virus crisis provides a rare opportunity to transform the conventional SMEs into a sustainable digitised one.
Despite the virus fallout, the sector has turned around due to timely decisions of the government, supports and stimulus packages, Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun said at a webinar titled "Post-Covid: SMEs Role – Financial and Industrial Growth."
The industries minister said that we need to build a skilled and trained workforce to adapt to the changing scenario. The virus pandemic has opened up scopes for new technology-friendly SMEs and the opportunity to develop and add value to the sub-contracting industry.
Apart from the formal banking channel, the minister thinks small ventures and informal sectors should have better access to soft loans and financing facilities.
At the programme, Brac Bank's Head of SME Banking Syed Abdul Momen said the bank has already disbursed Tk7,000 crore of the announced Tk11,000 crore. He hoped to distribute the rest of the amount by December.
In the meantime, Oman's Ambassador to Bangladesh Taeeb Salim Alawi offered support for Bangladeshi entrepreneurs. The envoy said, "The virus has changed the world as we knew it. It has ruined businesses. We all need to work together to overcome the virus fallout."
He added, "We stand by the entrepreneurs."
Ambassador of Nepal to Dhaka Dr Banshidhar Mishra said the SME sector plays a crucial role to any developing economy as the livelihood of many depends on it.
The Nepalese envoy said his country provided its businessmen with numerous supports to counteract the pandemic-led crises.
Dhaka University Prof Muhammad Shariat Ullah presented the keynote paper at the programme, while Bangladesh Chapter Head of World Association for Small and Medium Enterprises SM Zillur Rahman moderated it.
SME Foundation Chairperson Masudur Rahman, Maldives' SME organiser Mohammed Ali Janah, Unido Bangladesh Representative Zaki Uz Zaman, the Netherlands's Mind Master Mundo President Eric Meijer, spoke at the programme among others.