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17 November, 2019 10:29:33 AM
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A support to SME entrepreneurs

Development Fair- 2019
Sharif Ahmed, Dhaka

A support to SME entrepreneurs

Shoppers were very cheerful with a major discounts for wide range of products put on display at the ongoing ‘Development Fair’. Products displayed at the fair include boutiques, bags, purses, ornaments, jute goods, home decor, casa-brass tools, mattress, children’s toys, nakshikantha, lungi towels, handkerchiefs, natural foods, vegetables, fruits and sugarcane.


Mahmud Sattar, a visitor at the fair, said: “I didn’t know I would get these kinds of products at a cheaper rate.” Customers and visitors said they especially liked natural and unrefined products. Children also enjoyed various stalls, such as watching various species of fish in the aquarium at the fair.

Alimur Rahman, a salesperson of AVH Development Society, told The Independent: “Nakshi Katha is our unique product and we’ve come to the fair to make a bridge between buyers and producer.” “Nakshi Katha ranges from Tk. 2,500 to 6,000 and our mission is not to make profits but to create awareness about our heritage,” he added.

Agricultural, food and traditional products manufactured by small entrepreneurs at the grassroots level will be on display. Priority-based organisations include Palli Karma Sahayak Foundation (PKSF), Organic Online Bangladesh, Eco-Social Development Organization (ESDO), Society for Development Initiatives (SDI) and Rural Reconstruction Foundation. Other organisations comprise Mamata Catering Services, PC Link IT Rural, Sagarika Social Development Agency and many other organisations. Visitors will be able to see various products and services exhibited by small entrepreneurs under the financial services of PKSF.

Palli Karma Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) is organising the ‘Development Fair’ where 90 per cent are from SME organisations. The fair is being organised to expand the market of products made by marginal people and participants of different programmes of PKSF, said PKSF chairman Dr Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad on the fair premises.

During the fair, a lifetime achievement award will be given to a distinguished person for contributing to the field of poverty alleviation, sustainable development and establishing the dignity of human beings, PKSF managing director Mohammad Moinuddin Abdullah said.

A total of 130 organisations, including associate bodies of PKSF from rural areas, different public and private organisations, research and information technology (IT) institutions and service-oriented organisations have set up 190 stalls at the fair.

When asked about the demand, Sohali Nazneen Haque, assistant director of the Society for Development Initiative (SDI), told The Independent: “Buyers are impressed and they’ve really inspired us. Consumers are more interested in different types of vegetables.”

Kamruzzaman, a sales representative of the RRF, said: “We made various products but our babui (weaver) bird’s nest has attracted a lot of attention from buyers. Many of the younger generation have shown great interest because they’ve seen many babui birds but have never seen babui birds’ nests.”

Ortha is a premium home decor brand, which provides service all over Bangladesh online. Talking to The Independent, Jerin, a salesperson of the shop, said, “We’d like to reach out to every corner of Bangladesh. The brand targets style-conscious men and women between the ages of 18 and 39. The target segment has a high level of fashion awareness through TV, internet and movies, and wants superior products and priority service everyday. Orthashop.com has created benchmarks in the e-commerce industry.

“Our mission is to provide a little more comfort to customers, starting with a better night’s sleep, and we’ll continue to make exceptional products with highest quality,” said Jerin. When asked about discounts, she replied: “We offer bed-sheets at Tk. 20 only at this fair and the response has been overwhelming.”

Aadi, a honey-processing company, has set up stall at the fair to showcase its products. Jashimuddin Hawlader, a sales representative of the stall, said, “We collect honey from our own apiary and 500 selected beekeepers from Bangladesh. Aadi’s honey is pure, tasty, healthy and delicious.”

Saiful Islam Momin, a young entrepreneur and founder of ‘Samo Leathers’, told The Independent: “I started my business with just Tk. 25,000 in 2016. After struggling for two years, I’ve set up a small factory of leather products. Initially, I started with two employees. But now I’ve six persons in my company.”

When asked about processing machines, Momin said: “Leather preparation machines are being used at all stages of production of leather goods, such as handbags, belts, shoes, wallets, key rings and mobile phone covers. ‘Samo Leathers’ has seven leather processing machines to manufacture various types of leather products.” Speaking about the products, he said, “My company produces wallets, belts, ladies bags, office bags, file covers, jackets, backpacks, cardholders, key rings and other types of leather goods.”

Momin said they were offering 15–20 per cent discount at the fair, depending on the type of products. Asked whether ‘Samo Leathers’ also exports its products, he said, “We export products to China, Japan, Italy and Spain.”

Jonaki Haque, the proprietor of Jonaki Boutiques and also president of the Bangladesh Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industries (Rajshahi division), told The Independent they were working for women’s empowerment. She said she had received several complaints from women saying that they were not getting loans.

She said a lack of confidence among women entrepreneurs was a reason for banks’ reluctance to finance them. She also said many women entrepreneurs did not have a clear idea about the facilities they could be availed due to lack of promotional activities on the part of banks.

“Although it is said banks disbursed thousands of crores of takas as SME loans every year, SME entrepreneurs continue to gripe that only a few of them got such loans,” said an official of the SME Foundation. He also said many of the borrowers getting loans were not real SMEs. Banks show their other loans as those given to SMEs to meet the targets, he added.

The fair started on November 14 and will continue till November20. It will remain open from 10am to 8:30pm everyday.

Five seminars will be arranged during the seven-day fair.

The potential of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) at the ongoing ‘Development fair’ is yet to be fully utilised in Bangladesh, though they have the ability to create numerous jobs and increase their contribution to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), said organisers.

They also said it was of paramount importance to provide appropriate policy support to SME entrepreneurs to develop the sector and increase the contribution of SMEs to the country’s GDP. In the last two days, products worth Tk. 46 crore have been sold at the fair, said the organisers.

The SMEs are unable to thrive in Bangladesh because of some major challenges like lack of fiscal incentives, management problems, access to finance, policy inconsistency and bureaucracy, they complained.

“The SMEs’ contribution to the GDP is only 20.25 per cent in Bangladesh. If all kinds of support are provided to them, the contribution may increase significantly,” said SME experts.

A study conducted by the SME Foundation has revealed that the proportion of SMEs to all enterprises is 80 per cent in Bangladesh, while it is 97.60 per cent in India, 99 per cent in China, 99.70 per cent in Japan and 60 per cent in Pakistan.

Bangladesh has 17,384 micro enterprises, 15,666 small ones, 6,103 medium and 3,639 large-scale enterprises where a total of 5.02 million people are engaged, says the study.

HM

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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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