Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged the country’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to expand their product ranges and adopt newer technologies in order to thrive on the global market.
The PM made the remarks while inaugurating the 6th National SME Fair at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka on Wednesday.
“New markets have to be explored around the world and products have to be made in line with their demand,” the prime minister said. "We need to reduce our export dependency and diversify our export portfolios."
Hasina said nearly 90% of all businesses in Bangladesh fall under the small and medium category, contributing almost 25% to the country’s GDP.
Taken together, they have helped grow the country’s economy to the 44th biggest in the world with a per capita income of $1,752, and could yet do more.
“There are around one million SMEs in the country that could employ at least one million unemployed people every year,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said SME advisory centres will be set up at the district and upazila level to act as one-stop service centres for the country's entrepreneurs, who would be encouraged to set up regionally based on the geographic availability of raw materials.
"Entrepreneurs will get necessary help from the centres to start a new business and expand the existing ones,” she said.
“They will also receive management and technical training and consultancy services from the centres.”
The 6th National SME Fair has brought together 267 enterprises from across the country, of which two-thirds are owned by women entrepreneurs.
To help showcase their produce, PM Hasina also underlined the importance of setting up display and sales centres in every divisional city.
“The government will provide necessary incentives and policy support to the entrepreneurs,” she said. “(We are) helping to brand the SME products and will continue to do so in the future.”
The prime minister said Bangladesh was now exporting 750 products to 199 countries. The economy’s export targets had been set at $41 billion for the current fiscal year and $60 billion by 2021.
“The government will not do business by itself, but will work as a facilitator. For this approach, the private sector has flourished in the country rapidly,” she said.
The premier expressed her hope that the five-day SME Fair would play an important role in promoting products alongside attracting buyers and expanding market.
Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu chaired the inaugural ceremony of the fair, which is being jointly organized by the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Foundation and Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI).
Industries Secretary Muhammad Abdullah and FBCCI President Md Shafiul Islam (Mohiuddin), among others, also addressed the function.
At Wednesday's opening, five entrepreneurs received the National SME Entrepreneur Awards 2018 from the prime minister for their outstanding contributions to the SME sector in 2017.
The five entrepreneurs were Shahida Parvin of Bismillah Trade Solution, Md Shahibuddin, Maksuda Hasnat of Shotodal Hastoshilpa, and Gazi Towhidul Rahman and AKM Fahim Mashroor of bdjobs.com.
The fair will remain open from 10am to 8pm every day till April 8.