‘Sarathi- Improving Financial Health’, a flagship financial inclusion project co-funded by Swisscontact and MetLife Foundation, arranged a discussion on ‘Financial Solutions to Foster Economic Resilience of the Low-Income Population of Bangladesh’, at a hotel in Dhaka on Tuesday.
The objective of the event was to bring the economic turmoil faced by the low-income community and initiate an insightful discussion within the financial ecosystem to better cater to their needs.
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 jointlt conducted by Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) and BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD).
The Covid-19 pandemic and current global unrest has 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 10-year high.
Rising commodity prices is endangering food security of the low-income community – 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).
So, building financial resilience, especially for the low-income population, has become a dire necessity.
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 the event.
Jayasree Bagchi, Director, Financial Inclusion Department, Bangladesh Bank; Shahanaj Pervin, Joint Director, Financial Inclusion Department, Bangladesh Bank; Saif Uddin Ahmed,Chief Manager, B2B Sales Management, Samsung Electronics; Damien Gueroult, Country Manager – Bangladesh, Milvik Bangladesh; Panuel Rozario Prince, Project Manager – APAC, Blue Marble; Maisha Binte Siddiq, Head of B2C & Projects, Zaynax Health, Kazy Mohammad Iqbal Hossain, South Asia Sustainability Manager, Lindex and Mujibul Cezanne Hasan, Country Director, Swisscontact, were among the participants.
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.
Rumana Akhter Tulee, first assistant vice-president of Bank Asia, moderated the event.
The discussion featured various situation appropriate agendas, such as lack of awareness on existing financial health solutions from both the public and private sectors; designing products after proper market research is done on behaviors 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 insightful discussion, Jayasree Bagchi, director of financial inclusion department of Bangladesh Bank said, “This workshop has brought forward an amazing opportunity for knowledge dissemination between the supply and demand sides of the financial ecosystem.”
“With collective effort I believe we can mitigate the economic turbulence in 2023,” she added.