LightCastle Partners has recently completed a year-long SMART Blended Finance program for B-SkillFUL. Supported by the Embassy of Switzerland in Bangladesh and implemented by Swisscontact, the B-SkillFUL project aimed to improve the competitiveness of MSMEs across Light Engineering, Leather Goods, and Furniture Making.
Check out our work’s key highlights, activities, and results in the four-part infographic series below.
Every year, nearly two million workers enter the Bangladeshi labor force. They primarily settled in the informal sector due to a lack of relevant skills. The informal sector accounts for approximately 80% of job creation. However, workers and employers in the informal sector lack knowledge of legal and regulatory frameworks. They are also unaware of what decent work practices entail. As a result, workers in the informal sector face hazardous working conditions and exploitation.
The Building Skills for Unemployed and Underemployed Labor (B-SkillFUL) project, funded by The Embassy of Switzerland and implemented by Swisscontact, aims to increase the well-being of poor and disadvantaged men and women in Bangladesh by providing them with access to the labor market and income while protecting their fundamental labor rights.
Phase II of the project aims to increase the productivity and competitiveness of small and medium-sized firms (SMEs) in the light engineering, leather goods, and furniture-making sectors by providing them with business development services and workplace-based training. LightCastle Partners collaborated with the B-SkillFUL team to design and implement a SMART blended finance program that aimed at supporting the financial inclusion of MSMEs in these sectors and providing additional business development support services.
The aim of the intervention was to develop the capacity of the MSMEs in terms of business knowledge and financial management, as well as provide access to finance and market linkages towards backward and forward integration.
The intervention had several impacts, such as greater financial inclusion and increased market access, and included equity and impact-linked investments to promote governance and sustainability in the work culture, ensure preliminary safety protocols, and foster gender inclusion. It sought to increase the productivity and competitiveness of small and medium-sized firms (SMEs) while also creating more jobs by delivering Business Development Services (BDS) to at least 300 SMEs and Workplace Based Training (WBT) to at least 13,000 new and existing workers.
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