United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has partnered with Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship (ICE) Centre of the University of Dhaka to launch “REVIVE”, a project that will respond to the Covid-19 affected Cottage, Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (CMSMEs) sectors of Bangladesh.
The project was launched on September 10, 2020, at the inaugural ceremony of ICE Centre’s second anniversary celebration via Zoom and Facebook Live. Throughout the pandemic, UNDP has stood beside different communities and at the same time continued their efforts to patron small and medium businesses to help reopen the economy smoothly.
The project aims to learn the stories of CMSMEs across all 64 districts, provide advisory, training and mentorship services to selected CMSMEs to assist in reviving their businesses; share the findings (both stories and research) with policymakers and other important stakeholders for effective policy decision and implementation, and strengthening the supply chain network by connecting CMSMEs with large enterprises.
Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun, Minister of Industry in Bangladesh, graced the ceremony as the chief guest. He highlighted the importance of CMSMEs in keeping the economy running, and expressed the government’s commitment in cooperating with partners and the CMSMEs for further development of entrepreneurship in the country.
Special guest Van Nguyen, Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP Bangladesh said, “COVID-19 affects everyone, but women disproportionately suffer the most. Evidence shows that 52 percent of the CMSMEs have shut down their operation during the lockdown and 28 percent show a significant decrease in their business activities. And the most vulnerable are the informal women enterprise owners. This vulnerability is aggravated further by the lack of resilience capacity, access to financial services and assets, information and communication technology and business networks. Some estimates suggest that in Bangladesh alone, COVID has made 20 million new poor. We all know that the Bangladesh government has responded to this crisis in a commendable way, but it is more important that the stimulus packages are delivered to those who need it. Against that backdrop, I’m very pleased that UNDP and ICE have worked together to assist the government in this regard while also offering business advisory services.”
Md Akther Hossain, Secretary of the Ministry of Youth and Sports in Bangladesh, and Sheikh Fazle Fahim, President of Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) were also present as special guests.
Prof Dr Md Akhtaruzzaman, Vice Chancellor, University of Dhaka, chaired the session where Khurshid Alam, Assistant Resident Representative of UNDP Bangladesh, and Professor Dr Khondoker Bazlul Haque, Vice Chairman of the centre put their valuable insights.
Khurshid Alam, ARR at UNDP Bangladesh, explained the thought behind the project Revive, saying, “When the extraordinary COVID crisis hit, all the studies from the United Nations, national think tanks and the government suggested our informal economy, particularly the small and individual enterprises were heavily affected. We had a lot of brainstorming session with the Ministry of Finance, especially with the Secretary of the banking division and Bangladesh Bank about how we could deliver the packages to those who need it. Our studies suggest that many of these people are outside of the digital world, many lost their confidence due to losing their capitals. UNDP has done a lot of work to create the supply chain with the promotion of e-commerce, but huge challenges remain. With this initiative, our idea was to create an online advisory service, where people can get business advice on how to repurpose or reprogramme their businesses, get information about various government stimulus packages and get psycho-social assistance to regain their confidence. That is how we conceptualised this initiative.”
Md Rashedur Rahman, Executive Director of ICE Centre and also the Associate Professor of Strategy and Leadership, University of Dhaka moderated the session.