"Entrepreneurs Meeting with BKMEA" - jointly hosted by Sarathi and BKMEA in Chattogram

Sarathi- Progress through Financial Inclusion and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) jointly hosted “Entrepreneurs Meeting with BKMEA” on 27 August 2019 at BKMEA’s office in Chattogram. The meeting sought to introduce Sarathi’s project interventions to the association’s Board of Directors and member factories to facilitate prospective collaborations.

BKMEA is the apex trade body working to expand the scopes of knitwear manufacturing and export through various forms of engagement, including policy dialogue and capacity building. Sarathi’s activities are directed to find market-based and scalable solutions that address underlying constraints such as inadequate financial literacy; lack of access to formal banking services; and commercially viable business solutions for commercial banks to cater to the needs of the RMG workers. Sarathi’s intervention areas include engagement with business associations in the RMG sector, such as BKMEA, to leverage support and build an enabling environment to mitigate these constraints. Thus, the project has been engaging with BKMEA since the inception of its current phase in January 2018.

Sarathi is working with commercial banks and RMG factories to bring RMG workers, especially women, within the sphere of formal banking services. Through wage digitization, the project empowers RMG workers to conduct financial transactions as account holders and clients. Sarathi also provides financial literacy sessions for RMG workers and builds the capacity of their peers, such as floor supervisors and line managers, using specially-designed modules. By introducing the project to BKMEA members in Chattogram, Sarathi hopes to forge partnerships with the member factories.

BKMEA’s support of the project can also provide Sarathi with other unique opportunities of engagement. The participation of BKMEA’s members at Sarathi’s events and activities can pose key learning opportunities for the project. The insights and recommendations received can aid Sarathi in developing suitable financial products and services for the RMG workers through the project’s partner commercial banks.

The meeting was opened with a welcome speech from Mr. Md. Althaf Uddin, Sr. Joint Secretary (Admin), BKMEA Chattogram Regional Office and was conducted by Mr. Shawkat Osman, Director (former), BKMEA Chattogram Regional Office and Mr. Fazlul Quader, Director, BKMEA Chattogram Regional Office. Ms. Salma Akhter, Coordinator- Partnerships and Advocacy, Sarathi introduced the project to the participants and conducted the Q&A session.

The participating BKMEA member factories were Four H Group, Visual Knitwears Limited, Stitch Stone Group, Yunusco T&A (BD) Limited, Loyaltex Limited, Clifton Group, Alfa Knit Fashion Ltd., Sonnet Textile Industries Limited, H.B Group, and Intex Link Garments (BD) Limited.

The meeting concluded with words of encouragement from BKMEA and several member factories expressing their desire to explore partnerships and other forms of engagement with Sarathi. Upon invitation, the Sarathi team also visited some of these member factories to discuss the project’s prospectives with their management. Sarathi will conduct follow-up visits at these member factories with its designated partner bank to finalize all agreements and initiate project invention activities in Chattogram.

Sarathi is a 30-month (January 2018- June 2020) financial inclusion project, jointly funded by MetLife Foundation and Swisscontact.