World Bank Vice President lauds SEP activities
Mr Hartwig Schafer, Vice President, South Asia Region, The World Bank visited the footwear microenterprise cluster at Bhairab in Kishoreganj on 8 December 2021. He was accompanied by Dr Nomita Halder ndc, Managing Director, Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF); Ms Mercy Miyang Tembon, Country Director, The World Bank; Mr Md Fazlul Kader, Additional Managing Director, PKSF and other representatives from government bodies, The World Bank and project-implementing Partner Organizations of PKSF.
Under the Sustainable Enterprise Project (SEP), co-financed by The World Bank, PKSF is supporting the footwear microenterprises in Bhairab where around 200,000 pairs of footwear are manufactured a day. Bhairab is home to more than 10,000 footwear microenterprises, employing over 120,000 people.
Mr Hartwig Schafer and the other member delegates visited the SEP-sponsored common service center to support the footwear microenterprises in Bhairab. They spoke to the service providers and learned about the services there. Later, they also talked to some of the SEP-supported micro-entrepreneurs.
In a discussion session that followed, PKSF Managing Director Dr Nomita Halder ndc made the welcome remarks. She said, “PKSF, in addition to its inclusive financing interventions, is providing capacity building, technology transfer, value chain development and other technical services to help the low-income people get out of the vicious cycle of low productivity. Additionally, like in all other working areas, PKSF through the SEP is ensuring safe environment for female workers here too … By promoting decent workplace, we want to ensure that businesses become not only good but sustainable as well … We want to eradicate poverty not only by lending money but also by creating employment opportunities in a sustainable way … It is also very inspiring to see how a common service facility can be helpful to a business community which does not have much access to necessary modern technical support. Money alone cannot solve problems. It requires commitment and partnership like we have between The World Bank and PKSF.”
Expressing satisfaction at the SEP’s role in sustainable expansion of the footwear-manufacturing microenterprises, Mr Hartwig Schafer said, “It is great to see what can be done when you empower communities. I am very grateful for what has been done here by PKSF.”
Appreciating the effort and enthusiasm of the female micro-entrepreneurs, Ms Mercy Miyang Tembon said, “I am very happy to meet the women who are not only working for themselves but also employing other women. This is why SEP is very important. PKSF is doing a wonderful job as they are doing it all over the country.’
Mr Fazlul Kader presented on the SEP’s interventions with particular focus on the footwear-producing cluster.
To assist the microenterprises of Bangladesh in enhancing their marketing and brand development capacity and adopting environmentally sustainable practices, PKSF is implementing the SEP, jointly financed by PKSF and The World Bank with support from the government of Bangladesh. The total budget of this five-year project is USD 130 million, of which the World Bank and PKSF will finance USD 110 million and USD 20 million respectively.
To implement the project, the lead business clusters, based in the lead sub-sectors of the agribusiness and manufacturing sectors, are provided with financial and technical support. A total of 64 sub-projects have been undertaken from 30 different sub-sectors under the project.
People’s Oriented Program Implementation (POPI), a partner organization of PKSF, is implementing one of the sub-projects, titled ‘Establishing Environmental Practices in Hazardous Footwear Microenterprises in Bhairab, Bangladesh’ in Kishoreganj to support 1,100 microenterprises to adopt environmentally sustainable practices at their businesses. Additionally, SEP extends services like software-based footwear designs under footwear-making common service, cluster-based waste management, cluster-based WASH facilities, hand-made brand promotion, e-commerce branding.
Other members of the visiting delegation included Mr Zahir Uddin Ahmed, Project Coordinator, SEP & Deputy General Manager, PKSF; Mr Murshed Alam Sarker, Executive Director, People’s Oriented Program Implementation (POPI); Eun Joo Allison Yi, Senior Environmental Specialist, SSAEN and TTL, SEP; Christian Berger, Senior Agriculture Economist, SSAA1, TTL MFSFP; Jacob Finnemann Viuff, Security Specialist, GCSGO.