Bangladesh Bank has tied up with the intergovernmental body, CIRDAP, to promote ‘best practices’ of small and medium enterprises of its 15 member states here.
Governor Atiur Rahman on Sunday said they had signed an agreement to this end so that Bangladesh’s SME entrepreneurs could “share and upgrade” their knowledge with the counterparts of CIRDAP member states.
Statistics show SMEs account for 90 percent of Bangladesh’s industrial units that contribute 25 percent of the GDP and generate 40 percent employment.
It is the second-largest sector in neighbouring India, a CIRDAP member, after agriculture that contributes 40 percent of its total exports.
In Indonesia that hosts a sub-regional office of CIRDAP, SMEs have created more than 100 million jobs and contributed over 58 percent to GDP in 2012.
Established in 1979 and headquartered in Dhaka, the Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific (CIRDAP) promotes regional cooperation.
Its Director General Cecep Effendi at a seminar on the joint initiatives said they would bring “experiences and skills” from its member countries to be shared with Bangladeshi SMEs.
“In Asian developing countries, SMEs have a crucial role to play because of their potential contributions to employment creation, improvement of income distribution, poverty reduction, growth of exports of manufactured products, and development of entrepreneurship, manufacturing industry, and rural economy,” he said.
Governor Rahman said CIRDAP member countries felt that SME initiatives were “crucially important for hastening inclusive growth of individual country”.
“We take SME as a priority and we always give importance to joint initiatives,” he said while citing their initiatives to promote SMEs in Bangladesh.
Between January 2010, when the central bank first launched a separate SME department, and March 2013, they disbursed nearly Tk 2,000 billion credits to more than 1.3 million entrepreneurs.
“Thirty-two percent of them went to the manufacturing sector that created most employment,” the Governor said, terming the cooperation with CIRDAP ‘a good idea’ to push forward SMEs.
Ambassador Iwan Wiranataatmadja of Indonesia, where SMEs contribution to GDP was growing every year, said they also had challenges like “access to technology, access to finance and access to market”.
To support SMEs, they had strengthened government institutions to provide quick and easy access and also taken steps to increase the linkage between SMEs and applied technologies.
They are also developing SME capacities to provide good and quality products, and creating easy access to credit and other financial services.
Afghanistan, Fiji, Iran, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam are the other members of the CIRDAP.