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Disability inclusion in SME policy, plans stressed at ABF workshop

Staff Correspondent

আপডেট: 11:51 AM রবিবার, ৩ জানুয়ারী, ২০২১

১৪৯

Disability inclusion in SME policy, plans stressed at ABF workshop

Disability inclusion in the SME policy, strategy, plans and programmmes has been stressed at a workshop held on virtual platform Wednesday (Dec 30). Including persons with disabilities in the training programmes, giving priority to entrepreneurs with disabilities in the national SME product fair, opening a new category for awarding successful entrepreneurs with disabilities, including disability in the strategic targets of SME policy and addressing disability as a cross-cutting agenda by the relevant agencies like SME wings of Ministry of Industry, BSCIC, Bangladesh Bank, ICT Division, SME Foundation etc have been recommended.

Access Bangladesh Foundation organized the virtual workshop with technical support of Sightsavers and financial support of UKaid with the title of “Employment Opportunities for Youth with Disabilities in the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Sector in Bangladesh”.

Utpall Mallick, Programme Lead of Inclusion Works gave an overview of the project that the programme is lead by Sighsavers, funded by UKaid, implemented along with 11 consortium members in Bangladesh, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda. Access Bangladesh Foundation is an implementing partner of Sightsavers and works with 8 partner Organizations of People with Disabilities (OPDs) in Dhaka, Gazipur and Narsingdi to create employment opportunities for Youth with Disabilities by bringing together existing actors, networks and partners, identifying innovative ideas to work with public and private sector, producing and sharing evidences and learning.

Albert Mollah, Co-Founder & Executive Director of Access Bangladesh Foundation presented a keynote highlighting the scopes of employment for the Youth with Disabilities in SME sector of Bangladesh. Mr. Mollah pointed in his keynote that SMEs are making significant contributions in achieving the economic growth which is 25% of national GDP. He also states that there are 7900000 SME establishments currently operating in Bangladesh (93% small and 6.4% medium), SME sector generates 35.49% employment, the SME Foundation identified 177 clusters of small industries across the country and is rendering entrepreneurship training and low rate financing. He mentioned about the gaps in the SME Policy 2019 that there is no mention of Persons with Disabilities in the policy. To explore the scope of employment opportunities for persons with disabilities in the SME sector, he says, youth with disabilities can be employed in the large number of SMEs. As the majority of the SMEs are located outside the metropolitan areas, number of unemployed youth with disabilities can be engaged in the SME sector. Persons with Disabilities can be included in the trainings provided by SME Foundation.

A set of recommendations was given for the policy-makers which includes disability inclusion in the SME policy, strategy, plans and programmmes, including persons with disabilities in the training programmes, giving priority to entrepreneurs with disabilities in the national SME product fair, opening a new category for awarding successful entrepreneurs with disabilities, including disability in the strategic targets of SME policy and addressing disability as a cross-cutting agenda by the relevant agencies like SME wings of Ministry of Industry, BSCIC, Bangladesh Bank, ICT Division, SME Foundation etc.
Murteza Khan, CEO of Bangladesh Business & Disability Network (BBDN) in his speech emphasized on collaborative initiatives to enhance employment opportunities for youth with disabilities.

Ayon Debnath, Advocacy focal of Sightsavers says, there is no disability component in the SME Foundation so follow-up action is important to include persons with disabilities in the SME sector.

Rejaul Karim Siddiquee, OPD engagement Officer (Bangladesh) of International Disability Alliance of IW project focuses on the engagement of Organizations of People with Disabilities (OPDs) in the SME activities.

Shaheen Anwar, Deputy Managing Director of SME Foundation gives and overview of SMEF and positively says that persons with disabilities can be engaged in the SME sector through creating entrepreneurs and generating employment.

Mohua Paul, Co-Founder of Access Bangladesh emphasizes on increasement of participation of women entrepreneurs with disabilities in the SME sector
The Chief Guest of the event Dr. Mafizur Rahman, Managing Director of SME Foundation appreciates the initiative of Access Bangladesh Foundation and welcomes the recommendations cordially raised from the workshop and says that he will keep the recommendations in his active consideration and will try to solve the issues from the very beginning of the next year onward.

Representatives from Organizations of Persons with Disabilities, unemployed youth with disabilities, journalists and project staff participated in the workshop. The workshop closes with the thanksgiving speech of Albert Mollah.

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