bongo-news: The two weeks long ‘Innovation in SME Export Readiness & LDC Graduation Program’ with the goal of empowering and equipping SMEs to create sustainable growth through successful expansion into new markets ended on 13 December, delivering in three phases- Sensemaking Workshop, Export Readiness Training, and Final Ceremony including Matchmaking Session & Panel Discussion.
‘As our country is set to graduate from the least developed country category in 2026, I’m really concerned about our SME entrepreneurs; how will they function in this crisis moment of the global economy. I want to thank UNDP Bangladesh for offering the support our SME entrepreneurs seek in the context of export dominated economy,’ said Dr. Md. Masudur Rahman, Chairperson of SME Foundation in Bangladesh at the closing program on 13 December 2022.
‘Special thanks to the ordinary women who are relentlessly supporting their families as well as actively contributing to the economy of our country’, Masudur Rahman also said.
Starting with a Sensemaking Workshop, this program has been executed in three phases. In the first phase, UNDP Bangladesh identified current gaps, needs, and challenges of SMEs in the Jute, Leather, Toys, Clothing, RMG, and other sectors. This was followed by the second phase where entrepreneurs were trained on understanding the export journey, export readiness, and exporting services and their implications. Based on provided training and learnings, UNDP Bangladesh concluded the program with the third phase by hosting a closing ceremony to share the experiences and learnings and facilitated a matchmaking session between the experts and the SMEs.
‘Today we feel accomplished as we have been able to take the first stab of including our SME entrepreneurs in the Export scenario. Bangladesh has a lot of potential for producing Import Substitute Products and we want to see the products tagged ‘Made in Bangladesh’ in the global marketplace. Through this program, we are promising to continue our support to the SME entrepreneurs in Bangladesh and continue this program in near future,’ said Dr. Nazneen Ahmed, Country Economist and Head of Policy & Strategic Advisory Unit of UNDP Bangladesh.
Parveen S. Huda, National Gender Specialist, ADB GFA Seba Technical Assistance Project, also added ‘We always look for best practices and examples from others; whereas we should focus more on being creative and innovative to make our own products sustainable in the global marketplace. We seek UNDP Bangladesh’s support here to learn more on being creative and innovative in terms of producing Export quality products.’
40 SME entrepreneurs coming from key sectors such as Leather, Jute, Special Clothing, Toys, and Packaged Food, received the export readiness training and they learned about the overall principles of exporting and the processes and skills that businesses commonly use to develop export strategies tailored to their needs. Afroza Naaznin, one of the trainees and the founder of Shumi’s Kitchen added ‘This training has been tremendously fruitful for me as I learned about the challenges that I need to overcome for producing export quality product.’ She also urged UNDP Bangladesh and SME Foundation to arrange more of these training sessions addressing the challenges and next steps.
The two week long program focused on addressing the challenge of the unpreparedness of SMEs stemming from lack of information about trading across borders and the necessary planning and arrangements and gradually empower and equip the SMEs to create sustainable growth through successful expansion into new markets. Executed in three phases, through this program UNDP plans to produce critical insights and new learnings around current and future challenges, needs, and generate innovative solutions for SMEs to navigate the upcoming LDC graduation and emerge as growing export entities.
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