COVID-19: UNDP launches online marketplace for SMEs

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with assistance from Ekshop of a2i, launched Anondomela, an online marketplace, via videoconferencing, on Tuesday.

 

Anondomela will allow buyers and sellers to directly meet online and have Eid shopping can happen, while still respecting public health advisories and minimising the risk of infection transmission and at the same time help many small businesses who have worked around the year (pre-COVID) to produce Eid goodies do not lose out completely.

 

In a bid to ease the suffering of these entrepreneurs, UNDP launched Anondomela as a free-of-cost alternative marketplace.

 

It will allow buyers from the comfort of their homes order products directly from the SMEs.

 

Already, 1045 of SMEs have hosted their products on the site which can be accessed at www.anondomela.shop

 

“Our initiative aims to ease the pressure that the COVID-19 crisis has put on these very small and largely informal entrepreneurs, while also when most feel naturally inclined to demonstrate more social solidarity and care during the Holy Month,” said Sudipto Mukerjee, Resident Representative of UNDP Bangladesh, while giving the welcome remarks.

 

Bangladesh has close to seven million Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) which involve around 25 million people according to government statistics.

 

The COVID-19 crisis, which has brought the world to a screeching halt in just five months since its first reports, has put most of them at the risk of shutdown.

 

Launching the event virtually, Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury said they are all aware that right now, the whole world is facing an unprecedented challenge posed by COVID-19.

 

She said the impact of the pandemic on SMEs, who do not have enough resources on their own to survive, is very harsh through this period of economic contraction. “I thank UNDP for supporting the GoB through this innovative initiative.”

 

As part of the stimulus package to revamp the economy, SMEs will get a Tk 20,000 crore stimulus package from the government to stay afloat, she added.

 

She hoped this will continue to grow beyond COVID crisis and help the branding of Bangladesh to the world.

 

Mia Seppo, UN Resident Coordinator, addressing as the special guest, said Anondomela will give rural and urban small businesses an equal opportunity to sell their products digitally. “They’ll be able to carry out business as usual, and not have to lose out on Eid sales due to problems with the supply chain and transportation issues. This is the ‘new normal’ of work we need to adopt after this pandemic.”

 

The industry was traditionally propped up on the major sales that occur during festivals like the Pahela Baishakh or Eids. But the scenario is opposite this year. Due to the pandemic, even the products already at the factories are not reaching customers due to marketplace disruption.

 

“Normally, by April, we see a start in our Festival sales and melas. But with the COVID lockdown, we were hit very hard. We’ve already invested in making the products, got them ready, but now have no place to sell it,” said Asmaul Husna Munni, owner of Moon’s Creation.

 

Earlier Rezwanul Haque Jami from a2i presented the online marketplace and Anir Chowdhury, Policy Advisor, a2i/UNDP moderated the question answer session and gave the vote of thanks.

 

Source: United News of Bangladesh