Sarathi- Improving Financial Health — a financial inclusion project — called for fostering financial solutions for the low-income people of Bangladesh at a discussion held in Dhaka on Tuesday.
The objective of the discussion, titled “Financial Solutions to Foster Economic Resilience of the Low-Income Population of Bangladesh”, was to discuss the economic turmoil faced by the low-income community to better cater to their needs, read a press release.
The Sarathi project is co-funded by Swisscontact and MetLife Foundation.
The low-income population of Bangladesh is on the rise with 30.9 million (18.54 per cent) now being categorized as the “new poor” in a recent study by the Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) and BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), the release read.
The Covid-19 pandemic and current global unrest have resulted in global and national financial shocks like supply chain disruptions, fuel and electricity shortages, foreign reserve depletion, and inflation.
The economic turbulence is predicted to persist for a while as Bangladesh's annual inflation rate reached 9.52 per cent in August, more than a 10-year high. Sharply rising commodity prices are endangering the food security of low-income communities.
Food security among garment workers dropped to 86 per cent in September from 94 per cent in April this year, according to South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM). Building financial resilience, especially for the low-income population, has become a dire necessity.
Esteemed representatives from the central bank, commercial banks, mobile financial service providers, microfinance institutions, insurance providers, trade associations, fin-techs, RMG factories, and international buyers participated in this discussion.
Bipasha Sharmin Hossain, Team Leader of Sarathi- Improving Financial Health’ presented the keynote speech highlighting the current scenario of the financial ecosystem to set the context for an interactive session between the participants
The session was moderated by Rumana Akhter Tulee, First Assistant Vice-President of Bank Asia.
The discussion featured various situation-appropriate agendas, such as lack of awareness of existing financial health solutions from both the public and private sectors; designing products after proper market research is done on behaviours and needs of the bottom of the pyramid segment; and initiatives that can help minimize food insecurity and other effects of inflation.
To conclude the discussion, Jayasree Bagchi, Director of the Financial Inclusion Department of Bangladesh Bank said, “this workshop has brought forward an amazing opportunity for knowledge dissemination between the supply and demand side of the financial ecosystem.
“With collective effort, I believe we can mitigate the economic turbulence in 2023.”