Due to the ongoing pandemic, the fair is being held in November instead of March
The National SME Fair, which will be held on November 20-27 later this year, will prioritize product diversification, especially from sectors such as light engineering and those related to agricultural machineries, food processing, ICT and jewellery.
Moreover, jute and jute products, leather and leather products, handicrafts, and clay products will also receive priorities, said SME Foundation officials.
The fair will be held at the Bangabandhu International Convention Centre (BICC) at Agargaon of the capital, like previous years.
However, the fair is usually held in March every year. But due to the ongoing pandemic, the fair is being held in November instead of March, said the SME Foundation.
Talking to Dhaka Tribune, Md Mafizur Rahman, managing director of SME Foundation, said: “Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has agreed to inaugurate the fair. We are already getting a huge response from entrepreneurs now,” he added.
He also said that as the space for the fair premises is limited, they would not be able to accommodate all entrepreneurs to participate.
“This time around 300 stalls will be allotted, and the allotment fee will remain the unchanged, Tk15,000 per stall,” he added.
He also said that as the pandemic continues, highest priority will be given to compliance with the health directives. The authorities and the entrepreneurs will strictly have to adhere to these rules.
“We have taken measures to organize the fair smoothly and will also welcome as many visitors as possible.The fair will have a fixed visiting time for diplomats from different countries and officials of international organizations. Local visitors will not be allowed to enter the fair on that day,” he added.
He also said that the foundation is working to bring some diversification in this fair. This time some other sectors will be given priority over boutiques or apparel products.
“We have identified 10-11 sectors which will be given priority in this fair. Among them light engineering, jute, leather, food processing, agro machineries, bamboo and cane products, and clay products are mentionable,” he added.
However, local entrepreneurs of agricultural machineries said that very few such types of machinery are produced in the country, while the rest have to be imported.
If there was an opportunity to display imported machineries at the fair, the local manufacturers would benefit from knowledge sharing, they added.
Md Sheikh Saadi, owner of Agro Machinery Industries Limited, said that they are very excited about the fair.
“Due to the pandemic, the fair was not organized on time this year, for which the entrepreneurs suffered. This will be an opportunity to turn around,” he added.
Most entrepreneurs related to agro machineries suffered losses due to the pandemic. They see the fair as an opportunity to turn around from the losses.
A number of small and medium entrepreneurs across the country have been eagerly waiting for the fair to meet potential buyers from home and abroad.
Ismat Jerin Khan, jute entrepreneur and managing director of Jermatz limited, said that the National SME Products Fair is a great opportunity to increase communication with small entrepreneurs, medium entrepreneurs and buyers.
“We have high hopes for the fair, especially small entrepreneurs who have a big opportunity to overcome the losses incurred due to the pandemic,” she added.
She also said that lots of visitors will come to the fair, including foreign diplomats. So, through this fair there will be an opportunity to run a global promotion of locally-manufactured products.
Rezbin Hafiz, a leather entrepreneur and owner of People’s Footwear, said that a large part of their production revolves around SME fairs.
“Many entrepreneurs have suffered due to the delay in holding the fair this year. Hopefully they will make up for their loss by selling and promoting at the fair,” she added.
According to the SME Foundation, entrepreneurs sold products worth Tk4.95 crore and received orders involving Tk6.37 crore during the 8th National SME Product Fair last year. A total of 296 SME entrepreneurs showcased their products at 309 stalls in the fair.
Contributing 25% to the country’s GDP, the SME sector employs 20.3 million Bangladeshis — around 36% of the country’s adult population. There are currently 7.8 million SMEs across the country, according to the SME Foundation.