Financial inclusion of small businesses: Uttaron SME card launched

Uttaron SME card has been launched to ease the small businesses and startups’ access to mainstream investment and finance.

The service was launched at the seminar “SME Financing and Launching of SME Card” jointly organised by Prism Bangladesh, NRB Bank, and Aurora in the capital on Saturday.

Millions of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), cottage and micro sector businesses that have remained out of formal banking channel need a big push with proper backing from larger financial institutions, experts say.

Introduction of smart cards like bank debit cards with financial facilities could be an option, to begin with, they maintain.

Uttaron team leader Md Quamruzzaman said they would enhance the capacity of the SMEs through mentorship, advisory services and skill training. “We will also give them access to low-cost formal finance and provide quality and risk management services.”

“Women and young entrepreneurs will get loans of up to Tk500,000,” Quamruzzaman said. “Our purpose is to set up an SME platform to increase the sector’s competitiveness and create an enabling environment for it.”

ATM Zamal Uddin, NRB Bank’s head of SME banking, said they were providing loans of up to Tk1,000,000 to startups.

“If new entrepreneurs come to us after completing a training from the Bangladesh Bank, we will provide them up to Tk10 lakh at 9% interest.”

There are around 8 million SMEs in Bangladesh. Of them, 72.6% are micro, 20% small, and 6.4% medium enterprises, ATM Zamal said. “We want to create a business ecosystem and market linkages for them.”