Sarathi Initiates a Discussion to Foster Financial Solutions for the Low-Income Population of Bangladesh
The low-income population of Bangladesh is on the rise with30.9 million (18.54%) now being categorized as the ‘new poor’ ina recent study by PPRC-BIGD. The COVID-19 pandemic and current global unrest has resulted in global and national financial shocks likesupply 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 reached9.52%in August, more than 10-year high. Sharply rising commodity prices isendangering food security of the low-income community –food security among garment workers dropped to 86% in September from94% in Aprilthis year, according to SANEM. Building financial resilience, especially for the low-income population, has becomea dire necessity.
On 29 November 2022, ‘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’. The objective 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. 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 moderated by Rumana Akhter Tulee, First Assistant Vice-President of Bank Asia. The discussion featured various situation appropriate agendas, such aslack of awareness onexisting 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 minimizefood 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 side of the financial ecosystem. With collective effort I believe we can mitigate the economic turbulence in 2023.’