United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), with support from VISA and ekShop, organized a workshop to disseminate the learning emerging from the Build Back Better pilot project, where we are working with e-commerce providers, i.e. ShopUp and ekShop to see if sustainable digital financial literacy can be delivered to small and micro businesses.

The pandemic has only accelerated the urgency of the need to support small and micro-businesses. According to the Government of Bangladesh ‘COVID-19: Anticipatory Impact Analysis’, micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) will face one of the strongest disruptions in business operations resulting from reduced demand, that will strain the ability of businesses to cover wages/salaries, pay suppliers, and fulfil credit obligations. A Rapid Assessment conducted by UNCDF indicated that the daily revenue of SMBs dropped by nearly 70 per cent during the pandemic, and most enterprises were drawing on their savings to cope. With more digital adoption during these times and accelerated government support towards Digital Bangladesh being led by UNCDF, with support from Visa, launched the Build Back Better initiative to support enterprises in the e-commerce ecosystem in their recovery and resilience.  

The UNCDF initiative emphasized developing digital and financial literacy skills among the SMBs (Small and Micro-Businesses). It worked with partners, ekShop, and ShopUp, to develop e-learning modules, including audio-visual and app-based tools. The core objective was to help entrepreneurs gain soft and hard skills to engage in the digital space meaningfully. The learning modules covered broader aspects of the digital and financial ecosystem, like why and how to onboard the business to digital platforms and the benefits of engaging in cashless transactions. The digital and financial literacy modules helped more than 100,000 SMBs, at least 25% of which are women-led, to use digital tools specifically for digital business transformation.  

The project is vital for Bangladesh, where SMBs contribute more than 20% to the GDP but lack the necessary digital and financial skills to leverage the ecosystem effectively. The workshop was Chaired by Mr NM Ziaul Alam PAA, Senior Secretary, ICT Division, GoB, under the leadership of Md Abul Bashar, ED, FID and NFIS Administrative Unit, Bangladesh Bank [The Central Bank of Bangladesh], and Dr Dewan M Humayun Kabir, Project Director, a2i.

The digital report summing learnings when leveraging e-commerce to deliver digital financial literacy to SMBs (especially women) can be found here.