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World Bank VP visits footwear cluster

World Bank Vice President for South Asia Region Hartwig Schafer on Wednesday visited the footwear microenterprises cluster at Bhairab in Kishoreganj.

Under the Sustainable Enterprise Project (SEP), co-financed by The World Bank, Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) is supporting the footwear-producing microenterprise cluster where around 200,000 pairs of footwear are manufactured a day.

Bhairab is home to more than 10,000 footwear microenterprises, employing over 120,000 people.

Schafer expressed satisfaction at the SEP’s role in sustainable expansion of the footwear-manufacturing microenterprises.

“It is great to see what can be done when you empower communities and when you start small,” he said.

During the visit, he was accompanied by Managing Director Dr Nomita Halder, World Bank Country Director Mercy Miyang Tembon, Additional Managing Director of PKSF Md Fazlul Kader, and other representatives from the government, The World Bank and project-implementing partner organization of PKSF, according to a press release.

They visited SEP supported footwear common service center to support the footwear-producing microenterprises in Bhairab.

They talked to the service providers and have had been explained the services there. Later, they also talked to some of the SEP-supported micro-entrepreneurs.

PKSF Managing Director Dr Nomita Halder said that in addition to inclusive financing, capacity building, technology transfer, value chain development and other technical services are being provided to help the low-income people to get out from the vicious cycle of low productivity.

“Additionally, in all its project area, PKSF ensures safe environment for the female workers like what is done in the SEP,” she said.

She also said that the PKSF made it flexible for the microentrepreneurs who suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Because we want to eradicate poverty not only by lending money but also by creating employment opportunity,” she said.

The PKSF MD said that Promoting decent workplace, the government want to ensure good business but also sustainable business.

“Money alone cannot solve problems. It requires commitment and partnership like we have between The World Bank and PKSF.”

Appreciating the effort and enthusiasm of the female micro-entrepreneurs World Bank country director Mercy Miyang Tembon said that she was very happy to meet the women who are not only working for themselves but also employing other women.

Hartwig Schafer, Vice President, South Asia Region, The World Bank during the visit at Bhairab in Kishoreganj

Hartwig Schafer, Vice President, South Asia Region, The World Bank during the visit at Bhairab in Kishoreganj

“That is why SEP is very important. PKSF is doing a wonderful job as they are doing it all over the country.”

Additional Managing Director of PKSF Fazlul Kader presented on the SEP’s interventions with particular focus on the footwear-producing cluster.

To assist the microenterprises of Bangladesh in enhancing their marketing and brand development capacity and adopting environmentally sustainable practices, PKSF is implementing the SEP, jointly financed by PKSF and The World Bank with support from the government of Bangladesh.

The total budget of this five-year project is USD 130 million, of which the World Bank and PKSF will finance USD 110 million and USD 20 million respectively.

To implement the project, the lead business clusters, based in the lead sub-sectors of the agribusiness and manufacturing sectors, are provided financial and technical support.

A total of 64 sub-projects have been undertaken from 30 different sub-sectors under the project.

People’s Oriented Program Implementation (POPI), a partner organization of PKSF, is implementing one of the sub-projects, titled “Establishing Environmental Practices in Hazardous Footwear Microenterprises in Bhairab.”