Discussants at a policy dialogue underscored the need for relaxing the loan facility and incorporating necessary policies to assist the SMEs recovering from the losses caused by the pandemic
They made the remarks at the dialogue styled ‘SMEs in COVID-19: Response, Recovery and Resilience,’ jointly hosted by Aspire to Innovate (a2i) Programme of the ICT Division and the Cabinet Division and supported by UNDP and the Action Aid Bangladesh.Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) Chairman Md. Mostaque Hassan was present as the chief guest with a2i Joint Project Director Salina Pervez in the chair.
Addressing the programme, Md. Mostaque Hassan said the financing of SMEs is important for helping the industry recovering from the adverse effects of the pandemic.
“There should be a recovery fund to help the sector. Furthermore, restrictions imposed by banks should be eased to help SME entrepreneurs’ access to finance” he added.
Small and Medium Enterprise Foundation (SMEF) Managing Director Md. Shafiqul Islam stressed the importance of bringing SME entrepreneurs into a single platform and build their capacity for online-based business activities.
“We need to expand the market through the use of technology and conduct social campaigns to market our local products and incorporate policies to facilitate an enabling environment for SMEs,” he said.
Focusing on the significance of policy reforms, funding, digitization, and capacity development for SMEs, Action Aid Bangladesh Country Director Farah Kabir remarked that the government needs to establish a recovery fund, especially for SMEs as they are a very important contributor to country’s economy.“Similarly, SME entrepreneurs should be brought under the umbrella of digitization and their capacity should be developed accordingly,” she added.
Regarding the loan facility, National Association of Small and Cottage Industries of Bangladesh (NASCIB) President, Mirza Nurul Ghani Shovon said that the Bangladesh Bank should implement new schemes to build opportunities for new entrepreneurs and initiatives should be taken by the respective authorities to provide skills-based training to them so that they are encouraged to start their business and maintain it.
“The government should facilitate the financing of SMEs and at the same time adopt new policies and take key decisions to provide all the support that the small industries may require,” Bangladesh Engineering Industry Owners’ Association (BEIOA) President Md. Abdur Razzaque said.
Head of the Future of Work Lab of the a2i Asad Uz-Zaman presented the keynote paper at the dialogue.
Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) President Shams Mahmud, Action Aid Bangladesh Manager Nazmul Ahsan, and Policy Advisor of a2i Anir Chowdhury, were also present on the occasion.