GENERATION UNLIMITED YOUTH CHALLENGE 2020 – BANGLADESH

The Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge calls on young innovators to design solutions to improve education, skills development, apprenticeship, entrepreneurship, employment and civic engagement.  It aims to inspire young people between the ages of 14 to 24, with brilliant ideas but without the resources to bring them to life. Globally the challenge is taking place in 40 countries co-hosted by various Generation Unlimited partners.

Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge 2020 in Bangladesh is being implemented by the a2i Programme with support from UNICEF Bangladesh. It called on young people across Bangladesh to design solutions on two themes: a) to bridge the digital divide to learning in a COVID-19 setting; and b) to mask up, by translating knowledge into action – both tailored to fit the context. Local youth are already working closely with country hosts and expert mentors to develop solutions to the problems faced by the youth within their own communities under the difficult COVID-19 setting.

A call for applications led to the submission of 550 online applications (each application from teams comprising of 3 members) following which, only 10 teams were chosen to participate in the online bootcamp tailored to meet the COVID-19 context, held in the second week of August 2020. The bootcamp followed a competitive process where team concepts and solutions were presented to judges, mentors and 30 youth (4- female and 26- male) who participated in the event.

The 5 most promising ideas advanced to the next phase of mentorship and incubation and were awarded an equivalent of USD 1,000 each in Bangladeshi currency. Expert mentors are guiding them through, to help them hone their ideas and develop their concepts and prototypes by mid-September 2020. The teams are working on  solutions that include an offline learning kit being for access to remote learning, a community platform to raise awareness, use of sewing machines for mask making that addresses a source of livelihood simultaneously, a gaming platform to display good efforts and raise awareness on masking up and linkages with top institutions to provide online access to learning

In September 2020, another rigorous selection would allow 2 teams to submit their solutions in mid-September 2020 to a global judging process, a tailored global incubation programme across 40 countries to support them to scale. The Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge is directly linked to Generation Unlimited, an ambitious multi-sector public-private global partnership meant to meet the urgent needs for expanded education, training and employment opportunities for young people on an unprecedented scale locally and globally. The most promising ideas from the challenge will contribute to the success of Generation Unlimited.

Generation Unlimited: Generation Unlimited is global partnership working to prepare young people to become productive and engaged citizens. It connects secondary-age education and training to employment and entrepreneurship, empowering every young person to thrive in the world of work. Generation Unlimited was launched in Bangladesh in February 2019 through a coordinated effort by the government of Bangladesh, ILO Bangladesh and UNICEF Bangladesh to ensure that every youth is in education, training or employment by 2030. Since the launch, these partners along with a group of foundation partners comprising of BRAC, a2i Programme, UNDP and the World Bank have been working together to define a vision and strategy for Generation Unlimited in Bangladesh to support youth skills and employability.

 

 

‘Facilitate SME financing, adopt policies to help small industries’

Speakers at a policy dialogue meeting on Tuesday observed that the government should facilitate financing of SMEs and at the same time adopt new policies and take key decisions to provide all the support that the small industries may require.

Aspire to Innovate (a2i) Programme of the ICT Division and the Cabinet Division, supported by UNDP in partnership with the Action Aid Bangladesh jointly hosted the Policy Dialogue styled ‘SMEs in COVID-19: Response, Recover and Resilience’ over the virtual platform.

Md. Mostaque Hassan, ndc, Chairman (Additional Secretary), Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation was the Chief Guest and Ms. Salina Pervez, Joint Project Director (Joint Secretary), a2i, was the Chair of the event. Anir Chowdhury, Policy Advisor of a2i moderated the policy dialogue.

Policymakers, development experts and panelists participated in the event, discussed the important issue of challenges faced by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) during the Covid-19 crisis, and what responses could be taken to help the sector recover from the effects of the pandemic.

Asad Uz-Zaman, Head of the Future of Work Lab, a2i, gave a keynote presentation on the hard hit SME industry. With well articulated information and insightful data, he presented the adverse financial strains faced by small and medium enterprises due to the coronavirus, the job losses that took place, the skills gap that persists in the sector and how workers could be reintegrated into new sectors to enable new work opportunities.

Policy Advisor of a2i Anir Chowdhury conducted a moderated panel discussion to allow experts to voice their opinions and talk about the importance of all stakeholders, including the government, the private sector, development organizations and others in helping the SME sector recover. Md. Mostaque Hassan, ndc, Chairman (Additional Secretary), Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation, and also the Chief Guest of the event said, “Financing of SMEs is the important step in helping the industry recover from the adverse effects of the pandemic. There should be a recovery fund to help the sector recover.”

Md. Shafiqul Islam, Managing Director, Small and Medium Enterprise Foundation (SMEF) stressed on the importance of bringing SME entrepreneurs in one platform and build their capacity for online based business activities. “We need to expand the market through the use of technology and conduct social campaigns to market our local products and incorporate policies to facilitate an enabling environment for SMEs,” he said.

Focusing on the significance of policy reforms, funding, digitization and capacity development for SMEs to recover from the losses brought by the pandemic, Farah Kabir, Country Director of Action Aid Bangladesh remarked, “The government needs to establish a recovery fund especially for SMEs as they are a very important contributor to our country’s economy.”

Mirza Nurul Ghani Shovon, President, National Association of Small and Cottage Industries of Bangladesh (NASCIB) focused on how new entrepreneurs should be provided with an enabling environment for business.

He said “The Bangladesh Bank should implement new schemes to build opportunities for new entrepreneurs and initiatives should be taken by the respective authorities to provide skills based training to them so that they are encouraged to start their business and maintain it.”

Md. Abdur Razzaque, President, Bangladesh Engineering Industry Owners¢Association (BEIOA) believes the government has a big role to play to facilitate the turnaround of SMEs following the crisis brought by the pandemic.

“The government should facilitate financing of SMEs and at the same time adopt new policies and take key decisions to provide all the support that the small industries may require,” he remarked.

The Chair of the event, Joint Project Director of a2i Salina Parvez, who gave the opening remarks of the conference, also gave the closing speech and brought the session to an end.

Distinguished panelists of the Policy Dialogue were Md. Abdur Razzaque, President, Bangladesh Engineering Industry Owner’s Association (BEIOA), Mirza Nurul Ghani Shovon, President, National Association of Small and Cottage Industries of Bangladesh (NASCIB), Shams Mahmud, President, Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), Farah Kabir, Country Director, Action Aid Bangldesh and Md. Shafiqul Islam, Managing Director, Small and Medium Enterprise Foundation (SMEF).

‘Available, easy financing essential for SME recovery’

Experts also stressed the importance of bringing SME entrepreneurs on a single platform and build their capacity for online-based business activities

Ensuring available and easy financing for the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will be an important step in helping them to recover from the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Policymakers, development experts and panellists made the suggestion at a policy dialogue titled “SMEs in Covid-19: Response, Recover and Resilience” over a virtual platform.

Aspire to Innovate (a2i) Programme of the Information and Communication Technology Division and the Cabinet Division, supported by the United Nations Development Programme in partnership with the Action Aid Bangladesh, jointly hosted the dialogue.

Md Mostaque Hassan, chairman (additional secretary) of Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation, spoke as the chief guest while Joint Project Director (Joint Secretary) of a2i Salina Pervez chaired the programme moderated by Anir Chowdhury, policy advisor of a2i.

Speakers discussed the challenges faced by the SMEs during the crisis as well as the responses to help the sector recover from the pandemic effects.

Mostaque Hassan said there should be a recovery fund to help the sector recover. Furthermore, restrictions imposed by banks should be eased to help SME entrepreneurs get loans.

Md Shafiqul Islam, managing director of the Small and Medium Enterprise Foundation, stressed the importance of bringing SME entrepreneurs on a single platform and build their capacity for online-based business.

“We need to expand the market through the use of technology and conduct social campaigns to market our products and incorporate policies to facilitate an enabling environment for SMEs,” he said.

Farah Kabir, country director of Action Aid Bangladesh, focused on the significance of policy reforms, funding, digitisation and capacity development for the SMEs to recover from the losses caused by the pandemic.

She said the government needs to establish a recovery fund especially for the SMEs as they are very important contributors to the economy.

“Similarly, SME entrepreneurs should be brought under the umbrella of digitisation, and their capacity should be developed accordingly. Furthermore, women and youth entrepreneurs should be encouraged,” she added.

Group sessions were also held on following topics: apprenticeship, entrepreneurship, database of SMEs and SME financing.

 

Easy access to finance requires for SMEs revival

Staff Correspondent

20 August, 2020 12:00 AMprinter

Discussants at a policy dialogue underscored the need for relaxing the loan facility and incorporating necessary policies to assist the SMEs recovering from the losses caused by the pandemic

They made the remarks at the dialogue styled ‘SMEs in COVID-19: Response, Recovery and Resilience,’ jointly hosted by Aspire to Innovate (a2i) Programme of the ICT Division and the Cabinet Division and supported by UNDP and the Action Aid Bangladesh.

Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) Chairman Md. Mostaque Hassan was present as the chief guest with a2i Joint Project Director Salina Pervez in the chair.Addressing the programme, Md. Mostaque Hassan said the financing of SMEs is important for helping the industry recovering from the adverse effects of the pandemic.

“There should be a recovery fund to help the sector. Furthermore, restrictions imposed by banks should be eased to help SME entrepreneurs’ access to finance” he added.

Small and Medium Enterprise Foundation (SMEF) Managing Director Md. Shafiqul Islam stressed the importance of bringing SME entrepreneurs into a single platform and build their capacity for online-based business activities.

“We need to expand the market through the use of technology and conduct social campaigns to market our local products and incorporate policies to facilitate an enabling environment for SMEs,” he said.

Focusing on the significance of policy reforms, funding, digitization, and capacity development for SMEs, Action Aid Bangladesh Country Director Farah Kabir remarked that the government needs to establish a recovery fund, especially for SMEs as they are a very important contributor to country’s economy.

“Similarly, SME entrepreneurs should be brought under the umbrella of digitization and their capacity should be developed accordingly,” she added.Regarding the loan facility, National Association of Small and Cottage Industries of Bangladesh (NASCIB) President, Mirza Nurul Ghani Shovon said that the Bangladesh Bank should implement new schemes to build opportunities for new entrepreneurs and initiatives should be taken by the respective authorities to provide skills-based training to them so that they are encouraged to start their business and maintain it.

“The government should facilitate the financing of SMEs and at the same time adopt new policies and take key decisions to provide all the support that the small industries may require,” Bangladesh Engineering Industry Owners’ Association (BEIOA) President Md. Abdur Razzaque said.

Head of the Future of Work Lab of the a2i Asad Uz-Zaman presented the keynote paper at the dialogue.

Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) President Shams Mahmud, Action Aid Bangladesh Manager Nazmul Ahsan, and Policy Advisor of a2i Anir Chowdhury, were also present on the occasion.

https://www.daily-sun.com/printversion/details/500395/Easy-access-to-finance-requires-for-SMEs-revival