The Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship (ICE) Center of Dhaka University (DU) is implementing a project named ‘REVIVE’ in partnership with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Bangladesh to respond to the COVID-19 affected CMSMEs- Cottage, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises of Bangladesh. The objective is to listen to the stories of the CMSMEs, provide advisory, training and mentorship services to selected CMSMEs to assist them revive their business and share the findings with the policymakers and other important stakeholders for effective policy decisions and implementations.
In its continuity, ICE Center organised 100-hour long mentorship sessions for the CMSMEs, out of which 36 hours were committed to weekly mentorship sessions. ‘Bijoy Dibosh-2020 Virtual CMSMEs Divisional Mentorship Program,’ was launched with the conclusion of the 100- hour mentorship.
On each day, the mentorship programme started from 9:30 am and ran till 6:30 pm covering issues such as-- a. marketing, supply chain management and technology, b. legal, governance and documentation, c. strategy, diversity and mental health, d. finance, accounts and stimulus. Participation was very good as well in each session.
On December 21, mentorship for Rangpur and Rajshahi divisions took place. CMSMES from all over both the divisions attended the programme along with special dignitaries, policymakers and chief representatives of the divisions. The event travelled to Barisal and Khulna on the following day, Sylhet and Chattogram on December 23 and finally Mymensingh and Dhaka on December 24.
The guests spoke about the importance of competition in the market along with the need for adopting technology and networking as it provides exposure for a business, which it needs to survive and succeed. Instead of prioritising finance, planning and executing the plan needs to be emphasised. The significance of formalisation and registration, access to information, structure of e-commerce legal framework and operations for one-stop services were highly stressed. It was frequently advised to accept diversity rather than treating it as a challenge.
Assigning the right personnel to the right position and training the less skilled employees to change the game was suggested. The necessity of raising awareness about stimulus packages that have already been put into effect was highlighted to the concerning CMSMEs. Questions regarding loan sanctions, registration, market expansion, tech adaptation were raised throughout the 32 sessions.
The guest list for this four-day-long virtual mentorship totaling 16 sessions was a blend of well-known academicians, professionals and grassroots policymakers. The event was made successful by the highly interactive discussion among the CMSMES from all 64 districts spanning the eight divisions and the distinguished panel of speakers, where the CMSMEs voiced their concerns, fears, struggles and obtained valuable insights and guidelines from the speakers. The event was an enlightening experience for all those who participated.
All the sessions went live from ICE Center’s Facebook page and are available for the audience.
Ishrat is CMSMEs business facilitator, intern at the project REVIVE. She can be reached at [email protected]