United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) has launched the first ever SME Toolkit Pilot Project with BRAC Bank Limited with a commitment to work together with all the stakeholders to ensure sustainability of SME businesses in Bangladesh.
Global Compact Network Bangladesh (GCNB) in partnership with BRAC Bank, UN Global Compact, UNICEF Bangladesh and ILO Bangladesh and DBL Group have observed ‘SME Sustainability Day’ on October 14 for the first time in Bangladesh. The event is aimed at promoting sustainable business through SME entrepreneurship development to gain access to local and international trade.
As part of the initiative, 60 promising Bangladeshi SME entrepreneurs were given extensive training on SME Toolkit under the tutelage of UNGC, GCNB and BRAC Bank. A number of field visits will also be organized to see the best practices of sustainable business in Bangladesh’s leading corporate entities. The visit will help the SME business owners learn from the best practices and replicate the same in their own business.
In Bangladesh, there are over six million SMEs. They account for 75% of the domestic economy, employ 30% of the workforce and contribute more than 20% to GDP. SMEs are undoubtedly playing a vital role in the country’s remarkable growth journey. UNGC marks SME Sustainability Day at a time when the Bangladesh government puts paramount importance on SMEs, which fuels the growth engine, as the country sets sight to become a middle income country graduating from least developed country.
Md. Abul Kalam Azad, Principal Coordinator, SDG Affairs,Prime Minister’s Office, the Government of Bangladesh;spoke at the inaugural ceremony as the Chief Guest.
Mia Seppo, UN Resident Coordinator, Bangladesh; Kamran T. Rahman, President, Bangladesh Employers’ Federation; Lila Rashid, General Manager, SME & Special Programmes, Bangladesh Bank; Mari-lou, Manager, UN Global Compact Office, New York; Shahamin S. Zaman, ED, Global Compact Network Bangladesh and Selim R. F. Hussain, Managing Director and CEO, BRAC Bank; also spoke at the ceremony at a city hotel in Dhaka on October 14.
In the technical session, Belinda Chanda, Operational & Program Support Specialist at ILO Bangladesh made a presentation on ‘Better Work Bangladesh Programme’ and Simon Pickup, CSR Specialist at UNICEF Bangladesh made a deliberation on ‘Children’s Rights & Business’.
Commenting on the initiative, Selim R. F. Hussain, Managing Director & CEO, BRAC Bank, said: “This toolkit will enable our valued SME clients to link sustainability with decent work environment and help them set direction by placing their purpose, vision and strategy into the context of global sustainability. We believe this intensive training with UNGC module will help our SME entrepreneurs explore global markets more. We hope that this SME Toolkit will be localized soon in Bangladesh and be replicated in other countries in this region as well. BRAC Bank will continue to contribute to the real economy of Bangladesh by sustainable SME financing, creating much needed employments especially in semi urban and rural communities.”
Shahamin S. Zaman, Executive Director, Global Compact Network Bangladesh, said: "SMEs are the backbone of Bangladesh's industry. So, we need to build their capacity towards responsible and sustainable business."
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