May 25, 2024, 1:23 pm

Diplomatic correspondent

2024-05-14 18:04:46 BdST

UK announces $50m loan for Bangladesh's MSMEs, women entrepreneurs

British International Investment (BII), the UK's development finance institution (DFI) and impact investor, has announced a loan commitment of 50 million US dollar to BRAC Bank, a leading SME bank in Bangladesh, to support small businesses and women entrepreneurs.

The loan will provide vital funding to support the growth of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and women-led businesses, the bedrock of Bangladesh's economy, said a BII press release disseminated by the British High Commission on Tuesday.

"This investment reinforces the UK's commitment to support inclusive and sustainable development in Bangladesh and is a great demonstration of the UK's modern economic partnership with Bangladesh," said British High Commissioner in Dhaka Sarah Cooke on the occasion.

She said it will enable small businesses and female entrepreneurs in Bangladesh to take up more economic opportunities and create more jobs.

There are around 10 million MSMEs in Bangladesh, employing roughly 80% of the population and responsible for half of the country's industrial output.

The Central Bank of Bangladesh recognises the segment as indispensable for overall economic development in the country and specifically women entrepreneurs as crucial for attaining sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction.

However, access to finance has been a major challenge, with only 20% of total loans in the country going to SMEs, including female-owned enterprises, according to BRAC Bank's data.

Half of BII's loan will be directed to MSMEs and the other half will target women entrepreneurs, with an expectation to reach up to 3,500 MSMEs and women entrepreneurs in total and accelerate their business growth.

This investment supports UN SDG 5 on Gender Equality, SDG 8 on Decent Work and Economic Growth, as well as SDG9 on Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, said the release.

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