TruStory 

Be-SkillFUL Bangladesh, Phase II

B-SkillFUL

Building Skills for Unemployed and Underemployed Labour (B-SkillFUL) aims to improve the well-being of poor and disadvantaged men and women by increasing their access to the labour market and income while safeguarding their fundamental labour rights. Truvalu contributed to Phase II of this program.

Background

Approximately 6 million MSMEs contribute about 25% to Bangladesh’s total GDP, employing around 31 million people. Almost two million workers join the Bangladeshi workforce each year and settle mainly in the informal sector, given their lack of relevant skills. However, workers and employers in the informal sector, where around 80% of jobs are created, lack knowledge of legal and regulatory frameworks and are largely unaware of what decent work practices entail. As a result, workers in informal sector enterprises are subject to dangerous working conditions and exploitation.

The program goals

Truvalu, in collaboration with Swisscontact Bangladesh and funded by the Embassy of Switzerland, has launched the B-Skillful initiative. B-SkillFUL Phase II is a program aimed at supporting the growth and competitiveness of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Bangladesh. The program operates in six districts and focuses on three growth sectors: furniture making, light engineering, and leather goods.

B-SkillFUL Phase II is designed to help SMEs improve their technical and management capabilities, modernize production methods, diversify products and services, expand into new markets, and ensure safe and decent working conditions for workers. The program also promotes gender equity, social inclusion, and more environmentally sustainable practices among participating SMEs.

Its goal is to provide:

  • Business Development Services (BDS) to at least 800 SMEs, targeting production methods and working conditions in SMEs. This includes business planning, human resource development, product design, production improvements, inventory control, marketing, and finance. BDS providers offer coaching, mentoring, and advisory services to SMEs, creating opportunities for them to expand their clientele beyond major cities and engage with SMEs in peri-urban and rural areas.
  • Workplace-Based Training (WBT) to at least 13,000 new and existing workers to improve productivity and create better jobs. This includes training, coaching, and mentoring services for unskilled, semi-skilled, and skilled workers and management staff at SMEs.

Truvalu provides training programs for workers and management personnel, implements modern accounting systems, and offers assistance in obtaining loans with subsidized interest. To revamp the businesses’ , the primary goals were:

  • Access to Markets (A2M) and
  • Ensure a viable Access to Finance (A2F).

The B-Skillful project has been hailed as a true blessing for entrepreneurs, giving millions of people hope on the Road to Smart Bangladesh.

Truvalu conducted need assessments for all the beneficiaries of the programme under Truvalu’s purview, 56 to be exact, to customize the Business Development Services as per the needs of enterprises. Only with a solid understanding of all three of these things, it is possible to write an effective plan.
MSMEs and management staff received adequate mentorship on various aspects of A2F and A2M. They were given ample assistance on the best bookkeeping practices via the maintenance of ledger books for separate financial activities to capture the flow of cash better. As of the reporting date, 61 management staff (A2F-54 and A2M-52) availed for mentoring session service of BDS.
Truvalu has successfully delivered both Access to Market and Access to Finance services to 56 MSMEs. 44 of the MSMEs availed both A2F and A2M services. Out of the rest, 6 of the MSMEs only availed A2F and the other 6 MSMEs availed A2M services. On the basis of service category, Truvalu fulfills its target of delivering 50 A2F and 50 A2M services to the selected MSMEs.
Under the Access to Finance support, Truvalu facilitated loans for eligible MSMEs, by forwarding the proposal to banks and assisting the MSMEs in meeting the bank requirements. In addition to that, Truvalu helped MSMEs develop financial statements, business plan, loan proposals, and compliance checklists for smoother financing process. Loans were disbursed through two of the prominent financial institutions in Bangladesh, namely Bank Asia Limited and IPDC Finance Limited. The technical assistance and the finance facilitation provided by Truvalu under this programme has enabled the MSMEs to enhance their capacity and thus make a significant impact on MSMEs in a post pandemic economy.

The uniqueness of Truvalu's services

  • A total of 50 MSMEs are equipped with appropriately formatted bookkeeping documents, i.e., cash book, sales book, etc. In addition, these owners have been guided on how to utilize the forms for faster and more efficient bookkeeping.
  • The financial mentoring sessions helped the MSMEs achieve a more grounded viewpoint regarding their business stature and status with regards to performance. This helps MSMEs take justifiable and accurate decisions regarding market and product line expansion. Keeping these findings in mind can prevent a MSME’s financial downturn in the long run.
  • Eligible MSMEs have been rendered financial support in the form of loans, which in turn is helping them with their working capital requirements for upcoming seasons. This will assuredly be reflected in their performance as they will register a notable improvement in their sales turnover and profit margin.
  • As a step to better engage with existing clients and prospective clients since last year, the Truvalu team has developed product catalogs for each individual MSME showcasing the products and offerings of existing clients. This will allow the business to facilitate communication and provide better services in both directions.