In Bangladesh, the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME) sector faces a financing gap of $2.8 billion, according to IFC, a member of the World Bank Group.
With nearly 10 million SMEs contributing to about 25 percent of the country's GDP, enhancing SME financing is key to boosting economic growth, it said on Tuesday.
To explore the various aspects of financing for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Bangladesh, IFC, in association with Bangladesh Bank and the government of Norway, organized a conference in Dhaka.
Experts, policymakers, and stakeholders from across the world shared their insights to help foster a resilient and inclusive environment for SME financing in the country.
The event touched upon the partnership between IFC and Bangladesh Bank, results of an impact assessment study carried out on women-owned SMEs, next-generation SME financing trends, and global best practices in SME financing.
It also addressed the challenges and opportunities in SME financing, identifying solutions and innovations in light of global SME finance developments.
Highlighting the joint efforts of IFC and Bangladesh Bank in SME financing, the conference showcased initiatives, including developing the country’s first Credit Guarantee Scheme (CGS), reforming an SME finance policy, and strengthening the sector’s capacity.
IFC’s impact study on CGS, supported by the Norwegian Embassy, revealed that the number of first-time borrowers receiving loans in cottage, micro, and small enterprises and the average ticket size of the loans for women-owned micro and small enterprises was statistically significantly higher after the launch of CGS than ever before. Women entrepreneurs who received CGS-backed loans reported that it helped their businesses survive amid crises and provided new impetus to thrive.
Speaking at the conference as the chief guest, Governor of Bangladesh Bank, Abdur Rouf Talukder, said that recognizing that cottage, micro, small and medium enterprises (CMSMEs) are the backbone of society, Bangladesh Bank is spearheading several initiatives to mainstream medium and small businesses into the financial landscape.
"This includes establishing a new and dedicated Credit Guarantee Department that has already piloted an online platform—the Credit Guarantee Information Management System—to help lodge applications seamlessly. We are at an important crossroads of economic development and must ensure that everyone, especially those who often get left out, can be part of the financial picture," he said.
Deputy Governor of Bangladesh Bank, Abu Farah Md. Nasser, said a strong SME sector is akin to a superpower for creating jobs, export earnings, and productive proficiency.
"Now more than ever, we need to work together to enhance credit guarantee schemes, tap into alternative databases for SME lending, and ultimately fast-track CMSME finance in Bangladesh. We want to bridge the gap between rich and poor, make sure men and women have equal opportunities, and boost economic growth across the country," he said.
Martin Holtmann, IFC Country Manager for Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal, said Bangladesh is rapidly accelerating its economic development, and creating more and better jobs is a priority they share with the country as long-term partners since 1985.
"IFC’s collaboration with Bangladesh Bank to develop SME solutions highlights a milestone in achieving financial inclusion and economic advancement and underscores the transformative power of partnerships, innovation, and our collective commitment to progress. We aim to increase access to financial products that are affordable, sustainable, and responsive to risks while developing institutional, operational, and policy frameworks to ensure the benefits of economic growth permeate every facet of this dynamic nation,” he said.
Espen Rikter-Svendsen, Ambassador of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Bangladesh, said, “Lack of access to finance is the biggest impediment to the growth of SMEs in Bangladesh, particularly for the women-headed SMEs."
Recognizing and addressing the challenges faced by SMEs and women entrepreneurs is not just a matter of economic significance but also a step towards fostering gender equality, he said.
"It is essential to create an environment that facilitates easier access to finance for SMEs, encourages more women to take on entrepreneurial roles, and provides them with the necessary financial resources to succeed," said the ambassador.
Other participants included Qamar Saleem, CEO of the SME Finance Forum; Abdoulaye Seck, Country Director of the World Bank for Bangladesh and Bhutan; and managing directors and CEOs of leading banking and non-banking financial institutions in Bangladesh.
The event also included technical sessions and panel discussions focusing on global best practices and a future roadmap to accelerate the SME financing market in Bangladesh.
President Mohammed Shahabuddin and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina have paid rich tributes to the martyrs of the historic Language Movement marking the Amar Ekushey and the International Mother Language Day.
Both the Head of the State and the Head of the Government paid homage by placing wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar in the city at one minute past midnight tonight.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina arrived at the Shaheed Minar premises seven minutes before the clock struck 12 midnight, while President Shahabuddin reached the Central Shaheed Minar three minutes before the zero hour.
The President and the Premier proceeded to the altar of the Central Shaheed Minar together in slow pace while playing the historic immortal song on the Amar Ekushey "Amar Vaiyer Rokte Rangano Ekushey February . . . Ami Ki Vulitey Pari ?"
President Shahabuddin was the first to lay wreath at the Central Shaheed Minar. Just after the President, the premier placed wreath at the Shaheed Minar.
They stood in solemn silence for some time as a mark of profound respect to the memories of the Language Heroes.
Speaker, ministers, advisers to the prime minister, parliament members, chiefs of the three services, senior Awami League leaders, freedom fighters, foreign diplomats and high civil and military officials were present on the occasion.
Subsequently, flanked by cabinet members and senior leaders of the party, Sheikh Hasina, also the President of ruling Bangladesh Awami League, placed another wreath at the Shaheed Minar on behalf of the party.
Later, Jatiya Sangsad Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury placed wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar.
Earlier, on arrival at the Shaheed Minar, the President was received by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University Professor ASM Maksud Kamal.
Leader of the Opposition in Parliament GM Quader also placed a wreath at the Shaheed Minar.
Later, chiefs of the three services, inspector general of police, the ambassadors and high commissioners of different countries, the heads of different international organizations, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB), war-wounded freedom fighters and Dhaka University Alumni Association (DUAA), among others, placed wreaths at the Shaheed Minar.
Later, the Shaheed Minar was opened to the public when hundreds of people from all walks of life walked barefoot with flowers in hands and humming "Amar Bhaiyer Rokte Rangano Ekushey February" to recall the supreme sacrifice of the language heroes on this day in 1952.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will hand over the "Ekushey Padak-2024" to 21 eminent individuals today on the occasion of the Amar Ekushey and the International Mother Language Day.
The premier will hand over the Ekushey Padak, the second highest civilian award in Bangladesh, at a programme at Osmani Memorial Auditorium here at 11 am.
President Mohammed Shahabuddin and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday issued separate messages on the occasion of awarding the Ekushey Padak.
In the separate messages, both the President and the Prime Minister wished success of the event.
The nation is set to observe the "Amar Ekushey and the International Mother Language Day" on February 21 to pay glowing tributes to the Language Movement martyrs who made supreme sacrifice for the cause of the mother language on this day in 1952.
President Mohammed Shahabuddin, in his message, said the Great Language Movement is an unforgettable event in the national history and the seed of Bangladesh's independence was sown through the language movement.
He recalled with respect the contribution of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who led the All Party Council for Struggle on State Language formed in 1948 to establish the right of mother tongue.
President Shahabuddin said the spirit of Amar Ekushey (1952's Language Movement) is an eternal inspiration for world people of different mother tongues to protect their respective mother languages.
The Head of the State paid profound respect to the memory of the immortal martyrs of the country's long struggle for independence, including the country's Great Language Movement of February 21, 1952.
"The United Nations has declared February 21 as International Mother Language Day and our mother language day is now become a festival of honoring mother languages of all," he added.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, in her message, paid her deep respect to the memory of all the martyrs who sacrificed their lives to protect and uphold the dignity of the mother language 'Bangla' on February 21, 1952.
With utmost respect, the premier remembered all language movement veterans, including the greatest Bengali of all time, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who led the fight for the dignity of the Bengali language.
As the martyrs of Ekushey are the illustrious sons of the nation, the recipients of the prestigious Ekushey padak in different categories are also pride of the nation, the prime minister said, adding that award-prize inspires people in their way of life although these personalities do not work for such awards or prizes.
With the spirit of Amar Ekushey, we are awarding the prestigious Ekushey Padak to all those who have made great contributions in various fields in the development of art, literature, science and culture and building an enlightened society in the country, Sheikh Hasina added.
Noting that during the tenure of the Awami League government, the amount of money given to the award recipients has been increased several times, she said in the last 2020, it has been increased to Taka four lakh each.
A total of 565 distinguished individuals and reputed institutions were awarded 'Ekushey Padak' in recognition of their contributions in various fields in national life, the premier mentioned.
The young generation following the path of this year's Ekushey Padak awardees and institutions will play an active role in building the 'Sonar Bangla' (golden Bangladesh) envisioned by the Father of the Nation and enrich our language and literature by practicing Bengali's glorious history, tradition, art, literature and culture in days to come, she hoped.
The premier said a total of 21 individuals will get the country's second-highest civilian award, the Ekushey Padak, this year in recognition of their contributions to various fields.
This year two people got the award in the Language Movement category, one in making documentation on the Liberation War, 11 in Shilpakala (acting, music, recitation, arts and painting), two in social service, one in education and four in language and literature.
Md Ashrafuddin Ahmed and valiant Freedom Fighter Hatem Ali Mia (posthumously) have been named for the award in the Language Movement category.
Jalal Uddin Kha (posthumously), Freedom Fighter Kolyani Ghose, Bidit Lal Das (posthumously), Andru Kishore (posthumously) and Shuvra Deb will receive the award in the category of Shilpakala (music) while Shibli Mohammad in Shilpakala (dance), Doly Zahur and MA Alamgir in Shilpakala (acting), Khan Md Mustafa Walid (Shimul Mustafa), Rupa Chakrabarti in Shilpakala (recitation), Shajahan Ahmed Bikash in Shilpakala (painting), Kawsar Chowdhury in Shilpakala (documentation), Md Ziaul Haque and Rafique Ahmed in social service, Muhammad Samad, Luthfur Rahman Ritan, Minar Mansur and Rudra Muhammad Shahidullah (posthumously) (language and literature) and Professor Dr venerable Jinabodhi (education) have been named for the awards.
The cultural affairs ministry confers the award with a gold medal, a certificate of honour and cash.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has asked the expatriate Bangladeshis to give a befitting reply to the conspiracies against the country's prosperity with correct information.
"Some people don't want the progress of the country and the continuation of democracy. They are conspiring against the country's prosperity by giving false information. You (expatriate Bangladeshis) have to give a reply to the conspiracies raising correct information," she said.
The prime minister made the remarks while exchanging views with the leaders of All European Expatriate Awami League at her Place of Residence in Munich, Germany on Sunday afternoon.
She asked them to maintain communication with the leaders of their host countries and inform them of the real pictures of Bangladesh. “Every expatriate will have to work as an ambassador of Bangladesh,” she said.
She said some Bangladeshis try to tarnish the image of the country in foreign lands. “Stay vigilant so that they can’t do it,” she added.
Noting that her government has been establishing 100 special economic zones and several high-tech parks across Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina called upon the Bangladeshi diaspora to invest personally or with foreign partners in Bangladesh. “You can search your investment partners. You can invest in Bangladesh,” she said.
The PM said the expatriate Bangladeshis can contribute to the socio-economic development of Bangladesh and its people, she said.
Focusing on her government’s measures to ensure the country's overall development, she said, "We have ensured development up to the grassroots."
She said Bangladesh has got the status of a developing country and will start its journey towards becoming a developing nation in 2026.
So, the expatriate Bangladeshis can play a pivotal role to smoothen the journey towards a developing nation, she added.
The PM said they have been working to transform Bangladesh into a developed, prosperous and Smart Bangladesh by 2041.
Sheikh Hasina reiterated that Bangladesh held the country's most free, fair and credible election on January 7, 2024 since 1975.
Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud and Bangladesh Ambassador to Germany Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, among others, were present.
At least seven people, including an autorickshaw driver, died in a head-on collision between a speeding bus and a CNG-run autorickshaw in Alalpur area of Mymensingh Sadar upazila on Friday afternoon, according to police.
The identities of the victims could not be known immediately, said Md Anwar Hossain, officer-in-charge (investigation), Kotwali Model Police Station.
He said the accident happened around 12:00 pm when the bus crashed into the autorickshaw coming from the opposite direction on the Mymensingh-Sherpur regional road in the Alalpur area, leaving all seven dead on the spot.
All the victims except the driver were passengers in the autorickshaw, he said.
Details about the fatal accident would be shared later, the police officer added.
President Mohammed Shahabuddin and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina have paid rich tributes to the martyrs of the historic Language Movement marking the Amar Ekushey and the International Mother Language Day. Both the Head of the State and the Head of the Government paid homage by placing wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar in the city at one minute past midnight tonight. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina arrived at the Shaheed Minar premises seven minutes before the clock struck 12 midnight, while President Shahabuddin reached the Central Shaheed Minar three minutes before the zero hour.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will hand over the "Ekushey Padak-2024" to 21 eminent individuals today on the occasion of the Amar Ekushey and the International Mother Language Day. The premier will hand over the Ekushey Padak, the second highest civilian award in Bangladesh, at a programme at Osmani Memorial Auditorium here at 11 am. President Mohammed Shahabuddin and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday issued separate messages on the occasion of awarding the Ekushey Padak.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has asked the expatriate Bangladeshis to give a befitting reply to the conspiracies against the country's prosperity with correct information. "Some people don't want the progress of the country and the continuation of democracy. They are conspiring against the country's prosperity by giving false information. You (expatriate Bangladeshis) have to give a reply to the conspiracies raising correct information," she said.