Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday put immense importance to research on demand, production and marketing to flourish small and medium enterprises (SMEs) of the country.
"Research is urgently needed. Through the research, we can determine product demand, production and marketing. We’ve to do it and we’ll do it," she said while inaugurating the nine-day ‘8th National SME Product Fair 2020’ at the Krishibid Institution Bangladesh (KIB).
The SME Foundation organised the fair at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) in the capital to promote SME products and bring the local small and medium entrepreneurs under a single roof.
The Prime Minister said researchers have to find out the solution for mitigating the demand for raw materials for SMEs. "We have to ensure the source and supply of raw materials locally. We’ve to look for the method to produce all these raw materials in our own country," she said.
She said the demand for products is the other thing which should be given importance during the research work. "We’ve to point out the demand of buyers -- in which area they are looking for what kinds of products, what are the most demanded products. We’ve to produce those items," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said extensive research is urgently needed to figure out the overall matter.
She said the government is taking various initiatives to increase the purchase capacity of the people of the country aiming to expand the domestic market for locally produced products. "Keeping that in mind, we’re taking steps, we are working to materialise that," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said highest importance should be given to food processing industries.
"Because, the demand for food will surely be increased in the world. On the other hand, the more economic solvency will be achieved by the people, the more the demand for the processed foods and nutrition enriched foods will be increased. So, we have to put our focus on this sector," she said.
The Prime Minister urged SME owners to produce cent percent export-oriented goods and manufacture goods complementary to heavy industries considering demands of consumers.
She also urged them to create more domestic markets as well as find more new global markets for their products.
Sheikh Hasina underscored the need for flourishing the Blue Economy through SMEs and emerging as a partner of ‘Global Value Chain’ using the low cost of production in combination with modern technology.
She said many of the country’s SME products are of world standard and the cultural heritage of the country is also associated with those.
The Prime Minister hoped that Bangladesh will be able to keep pace with the 4th Industrial Revolution by ensuring better coordination among the digital, biological and physical innovative sectors.
"Considering all these issues, the government has taken various measures to increase domestic production, generation of employment opportunity and poverty alleviation," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said educated youths get employment opportunities through the SME Foundation and thereby poverty is reduced which in turn ensures prosperity of the country.
She also said the government is developing youths as skilled and trained manpower imparting them necessary training, she said, adding that no one can term Bangladesh as a country of cheap labours any more.
The Prime Minister urged youths not to run after jobs, rather start doing business and self-employment programmes taking loans from banks.
She said the SME Foundation has already identified 177 clusters of small and medium industries across the country and it is rendering entrepreneur training, low rate financing and developing new entrepreneurship services.
Sheikh Hasina assured them of providing all possible assistance for the development of SME clusters and enhancing necessary infrastructure facilities.
Referring to her government’s various steps of strengthening regional and sub-regional connectivity, she said Bangladesh has been working with neighbouring countries, including India, Nepal, Bhutan and China, to this end.
Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun presided over the inaugural ceremony.
Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Industries Amir Hossain Amu, Industries Secretary Md Abdul Halim and Managing Director of the SME Foundation Md Safiqul Islam, among others, spoke at the function.
The Prime Minister handed over the 'National SME Entrepreneurs Award-2020' among two female entrepreneurs and three male entrepreneurs. Each winner got Tk 100,000, a trophy and a certificate.
A total of 296 SME entrepreneurs, including 195 women, will exhibit their products, including jute, agriculture and leather goods, electric and electrical items, light engineering products, handicrafts and plastic and synthetics items at the fair.
There will be seller-buyer meeting booths, media centre and information stall apart from the display of SME products, and a blood donation programme will also be arranged at the fair venue.
Five seminars on the promotion of SME entrepreneurs and SME products will be organised during the fair.
The titles of the seminars at the fair are ‘Light Engineering Product Year 2020’, ‘Participation of SME Women Entrepreneurs in Export: Challenges and Potentialities’, ‘Role of SMEs in Achieving Sustainable Development Goals in Bangladesh,’ ‘Expansion of SME Product Marketing through Using Online Platform,’ and ‘Digital Finance for SMEs’.
The fair will remain open from 10am to 8pm every day until March 12 for visitors and there will be no entry fee.