The Article was first published in The Financial Express Click here to read the original publication.

Like thousands of women across the country, Nevia Alam, a middle-aged well educated woman of this city, is very happy being an entrepreneur by breaking all barriers to traditional marketing through the e-commerce platform.

She is one of the thousands in Bangladesh who see e-commerce as a blessing for them.

Nevia Alam, a school teacher, had a long-cherished dream of becoming an entrepreneur, but due to her huge involvement with the school and family, she had no extra time to run a business.

During Covid-19 pandemic, the government-declared general holiday in 2020 opened an opportunity for her. But traditional marketing was her key barrier, reports BSS.

"As the school remained closed, I had a huge time. So, I thought, I would be an entrepreneur. From my childhood, I had a hobby to make different kinds of pickles. But traditional marketing was my main barrier. That time, I heard the name of e-commerce platform 'Anondomela', which made true my dream," he added. 

Anondomela, an online marketplace of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for entrepreneurs, has created linkages between entrepreneurs and the marketplace that helps the country's small entrepreneurs be self-reliant by offering fair prices and various selling options.

Nevia Alam, the owner of the Nevia Kitchen, started making pickles commercially in March 2020. Now, she is a well-known businesswoman in the sector. Side by side of her teaching profession, her monthly income from the Nevia Kitchen is now around Taka 5,000 to Taka 6,000.

"My husband is an insurance official. So, our monthly income is quite well for my four-member family. But, I come to the business from my dream. Now, I feel proud as an entrepreneur. I spend me earning from my business for my children," said Nevia, mother of a daughter and a son.

Nevia informed that she took part in Dhaka International Trade Fair (DITF)-2022 through the Anondomela platform.

She said easy access to information and communication technology (ICT) immensely helped people across the country in overcoming the hardships rendered by Covid-19 pandemic, thanks to the implementation of 'Digital Bangladesh' by the present government.

UNDP has launched Anondomela (www.anondomela.shop) as a free-of-cost alternative marketplace. Entrepreneurs are hosting their products on the site, which allows buyers from the comfort of their homes to order products directly from the SMEs.

National Project Manager, SWAPNO and WING Project of UNDP Bangladesh Kajal Chatterjee said along with digital divide, access to information (a2i), access to financial resources, access to information and access to market and less employment opportunities are also big challenges for the country's rural and underprivileged people.

Digital entrepreneurship could be a good solution to all these challenges, he added.

During Covid, he said, UNDP came with a solution for the CMSME entrepreneurs. Starting from capacity-building workshops for Joyeeta Foundation, SME Foundation, and BSCIC entrepreneurs, Anondomela started including entrepreneurs from all over the country.

"With our connectivity with ekshop delivery network, our entrepreneurs are getting delivery and pick up facility from and to rural areas", he added.

He said, "We have given 200 smartphones to our root level entrepreneurs from various UNDP project and others based on a preset criterion so that they can run their business with that phone. We are creating market linkages for underprivileged people. Differently able entrepreneurs and transgender entrepreneurs are also getting training and access to the online marketplace to run their business online."

He said, "Marketing is the most crucial thing for online business which we are trying to do for our entrepreneurs. Through our social media page and group, we promote and run many campaigns to create opportunities for all entrepreneurs."

"We are building up and expanding our networks for promoting our entrepreneurs and creating more product showcasing opportunities for domestic markets and cross-border selling," he added.

He mentioned that in short, capacity building training, digital marketing, user-friendly mobile app, mental health support, Unique Business Identification (UBID) creation, market linkages, advocacy for access to financial resources, etc. are benefitting our SME entrepreneurs keeping in mind the goal, i.e. "leaving no one behind".

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