The SME Foundation on Tuesday started disbursing loans from the government's stimulus package among the pandemic affected cottage, micro, small and medium enterprises.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina earlier announced the package for the CMSME sector to improve the living standards of the marginalised in rural areas in the coronavirus situation.
Of the Tk300 crore loan from the SME Foundation at 4% interest, Tk100 crore will be distributed to entrepreneurs through various banks and non-banking financial institutions by June.
On the opening day, of stimulus loan cheques worth Tk97.5 lakh were handed over to seven entrepreneurs – three women and four men.
Of them, Mohammad Mehrab Hossain Mehedi of Feni received the highest cheque of Tk30 lakh.
Industries Minister, Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun, virtually inaugurated the programme.
He described the SME Foundation as the lifeline of Bangladesh's economy.
"Big banks do not want to lend to small and medium entrepreneurs. Banks give loans to those who have more loans. Forgetting that practice, the prime minister is giving loans to marginal entrepreneurs through the SME Foundation taking the plight of small and medium entrepreneurs into consideration," he added.
The minister said the loans will continue as long as the coronavirus situation lasts.
SME Foundation Chairperson, Professor Masudur Rahman, presiding over the function said, out of Tk3,000 crore in the second phase of the stimulus package, Tk300 crore will be provided through the SME Foundation.
"By June, we will be able to disburse loans of Tk100 crore to marginal entrepreneurs," he added.
As special guest, State Minister for Industries Kamal Ahmed Majumder said the stimulus loans would be distributed to entrepreneurs through 12 banks and financial institutions in the country.
"We have to find those who were left out of the stimulus package in the first phase and bring them under the facility," Majumder said.
"We have to stand by the millions of affected small entrepreneurs across the country and women entrepreneurs will be given priority."
Dr Md Mafizur Rahman, managing director of the Small and Medium Enterprise Foundation, moderated the loan disbursement inauguration function.
Sayed Mahbubur Rahman, chief executive officer (CEO) of Mutual Trust Bank, and M Reazul Karim, CEO of Premier Bank, also spoke on the occasion.