Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday urged the young generation to become entrepreneur instead of chasing after jobs wrapping up academic life.
"My call to the young generation is that instead of running after jobs in completion of academic life, you should put concentration on becoming entrepreneur and provide job to others, and all of you should prepare yourself in this way," she said.
She said the government has taken all types of measures to develop the interested person as entrepreneur while anyone can be entrepreneur availing this scope.
Sheikh Hasina said her government has also allocated separate fund in the budget for "Start Up Programme" so that the young generation can take this opportunity.
In this connection, she also mentioned the government's initiatives of providing technical education and vocational training to the young people alongside making arrangement of different opportunities both off-line and online.
The prime minister also asked the officials concerned to pay special attention to the female entrepreneurs to help them expand their initiatives.
"We've kept special arrangement for female entrepreneurs in the 100 special economic zones and they will get special facilities for their venture," she said, referring to her initiative of setting up 100 special economic zones across the country.
At the outset of the function, an audio-visual documentary on SME sector was screened.
Later, the prime minister also distributed National SME Entrepreneur Award-2021.
On behalf of the premier, the industries minister handed over crests, certificates and cheques to four entrepreneurs.
The awardees are Humaira Mustafa, Nazmul Islam, Mohammad Shoyeb Hasan and Mohammad Azizul Huq.
The fair will remain open from 10am to 8pm for all everyday till December 12.
The prime minister said investment-support infrastructure is a prerequisite for industrialization and that's why the government is setting up 100 economic zones in the country to attract domestic and foreign investment.
The government has also been implementing several mega projects including uninterrupted electricity programme, building modern road communication infrastructure, deep sea port, Padma Multipurpose Bridge, Padma Rail Bridge etc for industrial entrepreneurs, she added.
She continued, "As a result, Bangladesh is becoming an attractive destination for foreign investment".
She added foreign investors are coming forward to invest in Bangladesh with interest, and many foreign entrepreneurs are showing desire in investing in SMEs.
Laying emphasis on developing own markets as well as exploring new markets, Sheikh Hasina said, "When we will find new markets, we have to see that what kind of products are in high demand in that country and (we have) to produce such products."
She also stressed the need of setting up agro-processing industry, saying that food demand will increase in the world, not rather decrease.
In this connection, she said considering the availability of raw materials, region based small and medium industries should be set up.
About the small and medium enterprises, the premier said SME Foundation has already identified 177 clusters of small and medium enterprises and there are 78 lakh SME industries across the country including clusters.
"If only one person gets employment in each organization, then employment of at least 78 lakh unemployed people can be created," she said.
She added, "We will provide all possible assistance for the development of SME clusters and enhancement of infrastructural facilities."
She also urged all to set up new factory in the industrial park instead of building those haphazardly as entrepreneurs will get benefit more as a result of having infrastructural facilities in industrial parks.
The head of the government said the SME Foundation has been providing loans without mortgage and single digit interest rates to certain SME entrepreneurial groups, clusters and entrepreneurs in various sub-sectors involved in the manufacturing products under the "Credit Wholesale Program" since 2009.
Mentioning that the loan collection rate of the foundation under the scheme is about hundred percent, she said considering it very successful, they would like to make arrangements so the SME Foundation can provide more loans under the program.
In order to offset the losses caused by Covid-19, Sheikh Hasina said the government has provided Taka 20,000 crore in first phase to give current capital loan/investment facilities to SME entrepreneurs.
And in second phase, the government also announced a Taka 1,500 crore stimulus package for the development of marginal rural people, she said.
In this connection, she said the government is providing 5 percent interest subsidy against the interest/profit rate of 9 percent that means the interest rate at the consumer level is only 4 percent.
She went on saying that they have also allocated Taka 300 crore to SME Foundation and it has successfully disbursed Taka 100 crore in two months of last fiscal where women entrepreneurs get loan 26 percent.
She hoped that the SME Foundation will also successfully distribute the remaining Taka 200 crore allocated in the current financial year.
Regarding the National SME fair, the prime minister said this fair will increase awareness about the products among the cottage, small and medium industrialists remained in different parts of the country.
"It will play a positive role in the creation of domestic and international markets alongside creating many new entrepreneurs in the SME industry. Such developmental activities need to be intensified in the future," she opined.
Sheikh Hasina also briefly highlighted the measures taken by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman for the development of cottage, small and medium industrialists.
She said Bangabandhu was instrumental in enacting the Small and Cottage Industries Act (1957), and he established the Small and Cottage Industries Corporation before the creation of Bangladesh with the aim of increasing domestic production, creating employment and alleviating poverty.