With the goal of gaining a deeper understanding of implementing regulatory sandboxes to further opportunities for CMSMEs in the country, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), in partnership with Aspire to Innovate (a2i) and LightCastle Partners conducted a two-day workshop on “Frontier Technology Policy Experimentation and Regulatory Sandboxes for Sustainable Development” program on the 22nd and 23rd June 2022.

A total of 27 participants from various public and private organizations, financial institutions, and regulatory bodies attended the two-day workshop at the Renaissance Hotel, Dhaka. This in-person workshop was a follow-up to a virtual workshop conducted earlier on the same topic, which took place on 13th June 2022.

Through a design thinking approach, the workshop aimed to engage stakeholders from the public and private organizations to develop a sandbox framework for the CMSMEs in four areas: access to finance, access to market, access to service, and access to skills. Participants engaged in in-depth discussions on each area of focus to identify the key gaps and opportunities and ideate the roadmap to potential regulatory sandboxes.

The first day of the workshop began with opening remarks by Mr. Juwang Zhu, Director, Division for Public Institutions and Digital Government (DPIDG), UNDESA; Dr. Dewan Muhammad Humayun Kabir, Project Director of the UNDP Bangladesh; Mr. Anir Chowdhury, Policy Advisor, a2i; and Ms. Subhra Bhattacharjee, Strategic Planning Office/RCO Leader, UNRCO.

Following the opening remarks, Mr. Wai-Min Kwok, Senior Governance, and Public Administration Officer, DPIDG, UNDESA, and Mr. Rezwanul Haque Jami, Team Lead – Rural eCommerce & Head of Commercialization (iLab), a2i conducted a session on understanding the need for regulatory sandboxes and identifying the gaps and opportunities for the CMSMEs in Bangladesh.

The participants were divided into four groups, with each group focusing on their area of expertise: access to finance, market, service, and skills. This marked the first brainstorming session of the workshop, where the groups discussed the opportunities and gaps of regulatory sandboxes in Bangladesh. The findings were summarized and presented by each group in the second half of the workshop.

The first day ended with a knowledge-sharing session on supporting CMSMEs and building their resilience. Guest speakers from private and public organizations presented the current state of the CMSMEs and discussed their roles as ecosystem supporters.

The second day of the workshop included the continuation of the brainstorming session in the four areas of focus. During the sessions, participants refined their ideas of the potential regulatory sandboxes by identifying the key objectives, stakeholders and implementers, time frame, and implementation strategies. A design thinking approach was followed to generate the final outcomes of the workshops. The brainstorming session ended with each group presenting their final outcome, followed by a question and answer round.