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SME funds get priority-based selection of beneficiaries

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 17 September, 2021 12:00 AM
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SME funds get priority-based selection of beneficiaries

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The government selected priority-based beneficiaries of trade bodies and associations for disbursement of PM’s declared stimulus package for pandemic-hit small and medium enterprises.

The state-run organisation SME foundation on Thursday signed agreements with 19 banks and non-banking financial institutes to provide the soft credit to 100 clusters and associations.

SME Foundation targeted to reach the stimulus worth of Tk2 billion by December this year under the second phase of stimulus distribution.

Planning Minister Abdul Mannan was the chief guest at the function at SME Foundation in the capital’s Agargaon.

State Minister for Industries Kamal Ahmed Majumder, State Minister for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak and Industries Secretary Zakia Sultana were present as guests of honour.

SME Foundation chairman Prof Masudur Rahman presided over the session while managing cirector Dr Mafizur Rahman made welcome address.

Earlier in January this year, the government announced specialized stimulus for small businesses worth of Tk 15 billion, of which, 3 billion goes through SME Foundation.

The agency has already disbursed Tk1 billion among 1067 entrepreneurs with 33 percent women-led businesses in fiscal year 2020-21. 

Applauding contribution of small business to the economy, Planning Minister MA Mannan said the Bangladesh kept the growth in pace of micro and medium enterprise amid global setback amid the pandemic.  “SME Foundation has been working for development of the entrepreneurs. The agency should set up regional office to strengthen the countrywide activities,” he said.

State Minister for Industries pledged to establish a dedicated economic area for small and medium enterprises.

State Minister for ICT suggested the necessity of collaboration between SME Foundation and project idea of the division to optimize the growth of small business leveraging with technology.  

Prof Masudur Rahman requested the banks to become soft with the rural entrepreneurs to reach benefits of the soft credit for their recovery.

Dr Mafizur Rahman urged the government to issue more funds for small businesses as around 66 percent of the entities suffered from the pandemic. 

Senior officials of 18 banks and non-bank financial institutes including managing directors were present at the function. Eastern Bank Managing Director Ali Reza Iftekhar recommended separate credit programmes for small business and medium businesses.

Brac Bank managing director Selim R F Hussain said the ogranisation included 56 percent women entrepreneurs in its SME programme.

Emphasizing the success of SME business, Bank Asia managing director Arfan Ali said the small businesses showed the strength amid pandemic with fragmented supply chain.

“The banks should shift focus on SME credit from corporate to survive in future. The risk of default loan is very low. So, we should redesign our product to empower the rural economy in touch of digital banking,” he said.

IPDC Finance managing director Mominul Islam called for introducing credit for SME in partnership with mobile financial service in paperless manner to reach more beneficiaries.

Earlier on Thursday, State Minister Kamal Ahmed Majumder inaugurated ‘The Institute of SME Foundation and Business Incubation Centre” in Smart Tower in Agargaon.

The centre will be used for training, mentorship and providing space for developing business.