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8 April, 2018 12:21:32 AM
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Small enterprises make big contribution

SHARIF AHMED
Small enterprises make big contribution

With 25 per cent contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic product (GDP), Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have been accelerating the country’s industrialisation as well as economic growth.

Chairperson of SME Foundation K M Habib Ullah told The Independent that SMEs could play an important role to improve a country’s economic growth, as they required minimum capital, generated huge employment, were easy to start and contributed to export earnings.

At present, around 78 lakh jobs have been created in the SME sector. The total number of SMEs in Bangladesh is expected to be 85,000. Among them, over 90 per cent are small and 7 per cent medium, he said.

SME Foundation

Describing the role of the SME foundation, he said, the foundation was formed to serve as the central authority to guide both policies and actions designed to support SMEs. To boost the sector, the government and Bangladesh Bank had already taken several initiatives.

Prioritising the small entrepreneurs, he said, “Among SME enterprises in our country, small entrepreneurs have greater prospects for generating employment, reducing unemployment and achieving economic growth.

 Keeping this in mind, at least 40 per cent of the total disbursement target of SME credit should be reserved for small entrepreneurs and the rest allocated to medium entrepreneurs, he said.

 “The government has been putting emphasis on the SMEs and taking different measures for its development, considering the sector as a driving force to transform the country’s huge population into human resources, as it contributes 25 per cent to the GDP,” said KM Habib Ullah.

Fair aims

The sixth edition of the ‘National SME Fair-2018’ has been jointly organised by the SME Foundation and the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI).

 The SME Foundation and FBCCI have organised the fair aimed at promoting SME products and introducing SME goods for expanding business, trade and commerce. The 5-day ongoing SME fair at the Bangabandhu International Conference Center (BICC) ends today.

 There are in all 292 stalls in the fair, in which 68.2 per cent women entrepreneurs have participated. SME entrepreneurs from different parts of the country have taken part in this fair to showcase and sell their products.

Product range

SME entrepreneurs are exhibiting their local products such as jute, agriculture, leather, electrical and electronics items, light engineering items, IT products, plastic and synthetics items, handicrafts, and design and fashion wear at the fair.

‘Samo Leathers’ is one of the participants at the fair. A young entrepreneur and founder of Samo Leathers, Saiful Islam Momin, told The Independent, “I started my business in 2016 with only Tk 25,000 and, today, after struggling for two years, I have a small factory of leather products. Initially, I started with two employees; now six people work in my company.”

 When asked about processing machines, he said, leather preparation machines were being used at all stages of the production of leather goods such as handbags, belts, shoes, wallets, key rings, and mobile phone covers. Samo Leathers has seven leather processing machines to produce the various types of leather products.

Describing the products, he said, Samo Leathers currently produces wallets, belts, ladies bags, office bags, file covers, jackets, backpacks, file covers, card holders, key rings and other types of leather goods.

Momin said they were offering 15–20 per cent discount at the fair, depending on type of the product, Momin said.

Asked whether Samo Leathers also exported its products, he said, “We export products to four countries—China, Japan, Italy and Spain.”

Challenges

Outlining the challenges before SME entrepreneurs, he said capital was the main obstacle and one of the major problems in going for business expansion. Secondly, lack of skilled manpower was another barrier that hampered business growth.

Momin also said the bank interest rate on loans had to be lowered from double digits to single digit.    

Speaking on the future plan of his company, Momin said, “I want my factory to be a fully compliant within three years, giving employment to 100–150 people.”

“We have participated in this fair for the second time and the response was tremendous,” Momin said.

Women entrepreneur

Ismat Jerin Khan, another SME entrepreneur and the managing director of Jermatz Ltd, told The Independent that Jermatz Limited was displaying more than 30 jute products, such as jute shopping bags, table mats, jute promotional bags, jute baskets, corporate laptop bags, table covers, cushion covers, canvas tote bags and home decor products, among others, at this fair.

When asked about the price, she said the product prices ranged from a minimum of Tk 100 to a maximum of Tk 3,000. “We are offering a certain amount of discount depending on the product’s quality and price,” she informed.

Elaborating on the challenges, she said, “It is true that women entrepreneurs don’t get loans easily from banks and we don’t have adequate design labs for producing innovative SME products, such as jute, leather, and handicrafts.”

 She urged the government to make funds easily accessible to women small and medium entrepreneurs so that they could boost the production of raw jute as well as exports.

She also said, “We are yet to improve a lot of things in this sector—skilled manpower, accessibility to and availability of raw materials and machinery, single-digit loan facilities for women and so on.” She urged the government to implement a few things such as the creation of a separate bank for SMEs, 10 per cent tax rebate for women entrepreneurs, and 10 per cent allocation of land for women entrepreneurs in the special economic zone.

Citing an example, she said, “Backward linkage of the SME sector is also very important. We outsource accessory work such as embroidery designs, which are unique as backward integration. So, if the SME sector develops, backward sectors would also develop.”

Jermatz Limited manufactures 65 types of jute products like cushion covers, bedcovers, sofa covers, curtains, blankets, table mats, carpets and mobile bags every year, she added.

EA

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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