After a pause of 21 months due to the pandemic, National SME Fair 2021 kicked off in Dhaka on Sunday.
The eight-day fair is expected to help the SME sector, hardly hit by the pandemic, in its recovery from the shocks.
SME Foundation is organising the fair which was last held on March 04-13 in 2020 just before the country’s first lockdown during the pandemic.
The fair is being held at a time when Bangladesh is going through an economic transition and eyes to raise SMEs’ share in its GDP from the present 25 percent to 32 percent by 2024.
The current edition of the fair has been designed to support the SME entrepreneurs in order to bring back confidence among them in doing business.
All categories of entrepreneurs, financiers, and trainers will come under one roof in efforts to ensure all necessary supportsthe sector needs to turn around.
For the first time, 10 banks, financial institutions and Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE) are participating in the fair which will continue till December 12.
The products on display will include jute and jute goods, leather and leather goods, handicraft, cane products, potteries, ceramics, artificial flowers and jewellery, boutiques, processed food and Jamdani saris.
Besides, the products from light engineering, plastic, electronic and electrical, agro machinery and IT and courier sectors will also be displayed at the fair.
The fair will remain open for all from 10am to 8pm every day until December 12.
A number of seminars, training for newcomers, networking and skill development sessions in technology and cluster-based product development sessions will also take place on the sidelines of the fair.
Four seminars on financing mechanisms, women entrepreneur development, technology development and the 4IR, and cluster development will be held.
Addressing the function, Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) president Jasim Uddin said, “SMEs are considered the backbone of a developing economy.”
“But due to the pandemic, the country’s SME sector faced a severe blow.”
FBCCI president alleged that although the government announced Tk 200 billion stimulus to help the SMEs for the pandemic recovery, many SMEs failed to receive the fundsdue to lack of “good relations with banks.”
“Long-term financing must be arranged for the SME sector because it is the most affected sector by the pandemic. The central bank should compel the banks to provide the SME loans,” Jasim Uddin said.
Apart from soft credit, he also sought insurance coverage and land allocation for the sector in100 planned economic zones.
State Minister for Industries Kamal Ahmed Majumder said the government’s favaourable policy helped flourish the labour-intensive sector.
“With less amounts of capital, the SME sector is contributing to poverty reduction and women empowerment to large extents in the country,” he said.
Industries secretary Zakia Sultana expected the sector would play a key role in the country’s economic transition towards industrialisation.
She hoped the sector would boost employments, “which is a major challenge for the country right now.”
On behalf of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun handed over crests, certificates and cheques to four National SME Award winning entrepreneurs at the inaugural session.