SMART Blended Finance Program [Part III]: Increasing Market Accessibility for MSMEs
LightCastle Analytics Wing
February 20, 2023
This is the last of the three-part case study on the SMART Blended Finance Program. This section illuminates the significance of market accessibility and discusses how the SMART Blended Finance Program promoted MSMEs to a wider audience.
Accessibility in the market is important for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in Bangladesh because it allows them to access new customers, expand their reach, and increase their revenue.
Market accessibility also helps MSMEs to grow and become more competitive, which can lead to job creation and economic development in the country. In addition, MSMEs that are included in the market are better able to access financing, resources, and other support services, which can help them to improve their operations and become more sustainable. Overall, market inclusivity is essential for the growth and success of MSMEs.
To assist the MSMEs in this SMART Blended Finance Program in connecting with and growing their customer base, we offered a variety of marketing support services, which are delineated below:
Facebook Business Page Creation and Promotion: Photos, product information, and branding elements have been captured/designed, and a total of 73 Facebook pages have been developed and deployed for the MSMEs. Likewise, selected posts from 30 MSMEs have been boosted online as part of increasing brand awareness among targeted customers. The campaigns reached around 1.45 million people, and the posts, in general, had around 92K engagements, which in turn helped the MSMEs attain a larger customer base, also increased sales.
Product Catalog Creation and Distribution: Product catalogs have been prepared for 64 MSMEs depending on need. 20 hard copies and the soft copy have been delivered to the MSMEs. They can now use the hard copies to promote their existing offerings and leverage the editable soft copies to edit on their own whenever necessary.
Creation of Brand Enhancement Tools: As per their requirement, 25 MSMEs have received fresh business cards. Brand logos have been created/updated for several MSMEs.
Creation and Publication of Stories in Entrepreneurs of Bangladesh (EoB): LightCastle Partners started a digital platform earlier to showcase the unheard stories of Bangladeshi entrepreneurs. We generated and promoted 60 stories on this platform for the MSME pool from this program. This activity helped attract investment opportunities from abroad as well.
Creation of a One-Stop Digital Market Place: Developed the ‘ponnobithi’ e-commerce platform to cater to the needs of the leather sector MSMEs and improve customer reach through digital inclusion.All 33 Leather MSMEs were included in the website, and their desired products and information were uploaded. The platform included more than 400 products from our selected MSMEs and, overall, helped to produce 40% of the sales for these MSMEs through our market inclusion intervention. Learn more about Ponnobithi here.
Connection with Forward Market Players: We formed partnerships with 6 brands (Daraz, Ek Shop, La Mode, Grid, Savoir & Peninsula Marine Services). Our scope ranged from showing samples to taking partners to the MSME doorsteps, and our team has put in the efforts required to facilitate partnership agreements between the MSMEs and the private market actors in an effort to drive sales.
Corporate Connect Event: On 7 September 2022, we brought together MSMEs from the leather industry, and furniture-making industry for an illustrious corporate connect event with the vision to link MSMEs with key ecosystem builders. Several distinguished guests from renowned financial institutions and potential buyer organizations attended the event. From our pool of 100+ MSMEs, 24 were shortlisted for participating in the event.
Our goal was to increase sales opportunities for the MSMEs through the aforementioned activities. So far, 7 MSMEs have received confirmed work orders, and 5 more have been onboarded into the Daraz platform. The “corporate connect” event also saw some on-spot sales and hand-shakes between potential customers and MSMEs. The exact sales amount is difficult to estimate at this point in time. However, to our knowledge, some MSMEs have received multiple orders.
Along with improving market accessibility, we provided all MSMEs participating in the program with capacity development services to help them develop. We primarily classified them into three categories, which are outlined below:
Financial Literacy and Transversal Themes Workshop: Five three-day-long financial literacy workshops have been designed and delivered to 80+ MSMEs across the five regions. While the turnout was expected to be 100%, we saw a success rate of ~ 80% because of extenuating factors. Considering ground-level realities, an 80% success rate is deemed to be positive. Post-workshop assessments indicated that the MSME’s degree of knowledge on the financial governance and literacy aspects has increased by 68%.
Online Marketing and Website Management Workshop: Five day-long marketing workshops have been designed and delivered to 80+ MSMEs across the five regions. 97% of MSMEs attended the workshops. Post-workshop assessments suggested a 49% increase in knowledge on creating and managing Facebook pages, a critical tool for brand promotion, and a 47% increase in knowledge on online marketing through Facebook.
Periodical Mentorships: Over 180 one-on-one mentorship/advisory activity has been provided to 90+ MSMEs. A positive outlook has been observed in the following categories: business model development, financial bookkeeping, brand promotion, and transversal themes.
The SMART Blended Finance Program, in its entirety, was a step towards more inclusive economic growth, empowering and advancing MSMEs and creating a more sustainable ecosystem. If these MSMEs were equipped with proper tools and guidance, we can visualize a better Bangladesh tomorrow.
WRITTEN BY: LightCastle Analytics Wing
At LightCastle, we take a data-driven approach to create opportunities for growth and impact. We consult and collaborate with development partners, the public sector, and private organizations to promote inclusive economic growth that positively changes the lives of people at scale. Being a data-driven and transparent organization, we believe in democratizing knowledge and information among the stakeholders of the economy to drive inclusive growth.