The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and its partners have launched basic e-learning modules to support small and micro-businesses (SMBs) in Bangladesh as part of the Build Back Better – Enhancing Recovery and Resilience of Small and Micro-Businesses project.
The project aims to improve the digital and financial literacy of entrepreneurs in Bangladesh, particularly women, empowering them to confidently adopt and leverage new digital services that improve their competitiveness and performance, said a press release.
UNCDF and Visa, along with local partners, Aspire to Innovate (a2i), ekShop and ShopUp, have developed a custom suite of basic e-learning modules – ekShop landing page (https://academy.ekshop.gov.bd/)and ShopUp landing page 1 and 2 (https://blog.shopup.com.bd/) – on finance and business management, including audio-visual and app-based tools.
In the initial roll-out of the e-learning modules, the project will help 200,000 SMBs including 5,000 women-led and owned small and micro-businesses acquire the necessary digital and financial capabilities to access and use the tools they need to grow their business in the digital age.
These modules are embedded within the onboarding platform of ekShop and ShopUp in the form of topic-based online lessons allowing any small and micro-business on the platform to directly access these tools.
The key topics of the basic modules include - Creating a business plan, Financial basics, Financial management, Promoting a business and Business to e-business.
In conjunction with the rollout of these modules, UNCDF will provide training support to assist SMBs with the onboarding process, with a focus on closing gender gaps in digital and financial literacy.
Based on feedback from participants on the basic modules, UNCDF and its partners will subsequently develop advanced modules to cover higher-order business knowledge and skills, such as building financial statements and record-keeping, business risk management and environmental sustainability.
The modules leverage Visa's Practical Business Skills (PBS) financial educational programme, and they are also specifically designed to target gender-specific gaps in conceptual ability and technical knowledge, focusing on improving knowledge of interest and inflation rate concepts and calculations as well as providing tools to assist in incorporating these concepts for business decision-making.
UNCDF and Visa also commissioned a Rapid Needs Assessment to evaluate the existing level of financial and digital literacy of SMBs that was launched at an online event on 24 May with participants from across the leading public and private sector organizations globally and in South Asia.
Their study found substantial gaps in the digital literacy levels of entrepreneurs in Bangladesh with the gaps being even more pronounced for women entrepreneurs.
Over 50% of SMBs in the study had a poor understanding of how digital and financial services could help their businesses.
Gender gaps have remained despite increasing awareness from women-led SMBs on the need to be financially literate, plan and actively manage their personal and business finances.