This project is implemented under the UNCDF for the SAARC countries
A new portal, Microentrepreneurs Asia Data Portal (MADP), was launched on Wednesday to cater to countrywide micro-merchants through market-facilitation initiatives.
Initially, the project has a target to reach out to 100,000 micro-merchants, organizers said.
Md Ashadul Islam, Secretary of Financial Institutions Division under the Ministry of Finance, launched the web portal in the capital jointly organized by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and Dnet.
The MADP is an initiative of UNCDF’s Merchants Development Driving Rural Markets (MDDRM) project funded by the EU’s Poverty Reduction through Inclusive and Sustainable Markets (PRISM) action.
Md Ashadul Islam as the chief guest said that the Bangladesh government is prioritizing the inclusion of micro-merchants into the formal sector for accelerating sustainable economic growth.
“We have to continuously recognize the potential of using digital technologies and digitization across economic sectors, including retail corner shops. We must work together to further expand services to retail micro-merchants and all micro-entrepreneurs in Bangladesh,” he said.
The secretary further said: “The MADP is an important source of data, insights and information which will enable all market actors, both public and private, to access valuable market information about retail micro-merchants and take more informed decisions. This data and information will be instrumental to further advancing strategies, business opportunities, and business approaches for this important sector.”
This project is implemented under the UNCDF for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries aiming to improve livelihoods and reduce poverty in SAARC region by 2021.
The UNCDF is implementing MDDRM in partnership with Dnet, Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), and Bangladesh Dokan Malik Samity (BDMS).
It is the first UNCDF’s comprehensive study of retail micro-merchants in Bangladesh this year.
Organisers at the program said almost two million people are involved in micro-merchant retail trade in the country. While individually their business is small, together they transact more than $18.42 billion a year and interact with millions of customers per day, they said.
Manfred Fernholz, First Secretary of Delegation of the European Union (EU) in Bangladesh, said: “Bangladesh has successfully graduated its socio-economic status emerging as a potential middle-income country. Going forward, special attention is required for women empowerment in the micro-merchants sector because less than 10% of the shops are managed by women.”
“The data portal will offer evidence-based prospects. Right now, we are trying to reach out to 100,000 micro-merchants. Gradually, we have to expand our coverage to the whole segment. It’s high time we extend support to enable micro-merchants to incorporate a wider range of digital financial services in their business operations,” he also said.
Md Nazimuddin, executive director of Bangladesh Bank and Rajeev Kumar Gupta, program manager of SHIFT, UNCDF also spoke at the program.
Under the project, three districts -- Sirajganj, Jamalpur and Sherpur districts -- have been chosen initially to work with micro-merchants. Bank Asia, Grameenphone, and MicroSave will extend their cooperation, organizers said.
Md Arfan Ali, president and managing director of Bank Asia Ltd and Rajeev Kumar Gupta, program manager, SHIFT, SAARC and ASEAN, UNCDF, signed and exchanged a contract on behalf of respective institutions during the event.