The News was published in The Daily Star

Anondomela will directly link buyers and sellers online and can also become a platform for Eid shopping, upholding public health advisories and minimising the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

In this way, it will help many small businesses who have invested throughout the year to not lose out completely amid the coronavirus outbreak.

"Our initiative aims to ease the pressure that the Covid-19 crisis has put on these very small and largely informal entrepreneurs, at a time when most feel naturally inclined to demonstrate more social solidarity and care during the holy month," said Sudipto Mukerjee, resident representative of UNDP Bangladesh.

Bangladesh has close to seven million small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which involve around 25 million people, according to government data. The Covid-19 crisis has put most of them at the risk of shutdown.

Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, speaker of Bangladesh parliament, launched the event virtually.

"The impact of the pandemic on SMEs, which do not have enough resources on their own to survive, is very harsh through this period of economic contraction. I thank UNDP for supporting the Bangladesh government through this innovative initiative," Dr Shirin said.

"As part of the stimulus package to revamp the economy, SMEs will get a Tk 20,000 crore stimulus package from the government to stay afloat," she added.

"Anondomela will give rural and urban small businesses an equal opportunity to sell their products digitally," Mia Seppo, UN resident coordinator, said while addressing as special guest.

"They will be able to carry out business as usual, and not have to lose out on Eid sales due to problems with the supply chain and transportation issues. This is the 'new normal' of work we need to adopt after this pandemic," Mia Seppo added.

"Normally, by April, we see a start in our festival sales and fairs. But with the Covid-19 induced lockdown, we were hit very hard. We have already invested in making the products, got them ready, but now have no place to sell those," said Asmaul Husna Munni, owner of Moon's Creation.

UNDP is launching Anondomela (www.anondomela.shop) as a free-of-cost alternative marketplace. Already, 1045 of SMEs have hosted their products on the site, which allows buyers from the comfort of their homes to order products directly from the SMEs.

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