Notwithstanding significant progress in recent decades, Bangladesh is a lower-middle-income country with substantial poverty and inequality. There is an estimated 47 million people still living below poverty line with a significant proportion living in households which are female-headed, in remote areas, and consisting of socially excluded people. The main part of the population is still employed in agriculture (about 49% of the total labour force), which accounts for about 21% of GDP. The second main employer is SME sector, which currently is located in and around the two cities of Dhaka and Chittagong, but which could provide benefits for many rural areas if it could be established more broadly across the country. The SME sector is accounting for close to 80,000 establishments, of which 93.6 % are small/micro and 6.4 % medium sized. The continued development of the private sector at the rural level, where predominantly cottage industries and small businesses function, is therefore vital if pro-poor growth is to be ensured.
The project Poverty Reduction through Inclusive and Sustainable Markets (PRISM) has been designed to respond to following challenges: limited levels of vocational training possibilities for workers and entrepreneurs, lack of employment opportunities in rural areas, lack of diversification among industries and businesses operating at the local level, inability to maintain product quality and to market products, and a lack of suitable access to finance.
It will support a range of economic development and employment actions focused on the Small, Micro & Cottage Industries sector. PRISM will especially target the poorest segments of the population to facilitate their greater involvement as entrepreneurs, traders, workers/employees and producers. Subject to the application of project quality criteria, it will also prioritise those regions of Bangladesh where the poor are most concentrated.
Objectives of the programme and priority issues
The global objective of this call for proposals is to reduce poverty across Bangladesh by promoting sustainable pro-poor growth.
The specific objective of this call for proposals is to strengthen the skills and employability of workers in cottage and small enterprises in order to enhance their competitiveness.
1. Skills and vocational training, female empowerment, the scope for replication and/or scaling up, the creation of sustainable employment, and poverty reduction.
2. Rural areas with higher concentration of poor people (aiming for the delivery of tangible economic development benefits within the target communities). It is not limited to any specific administrative area. The selection of project location should be supported with relevant data/statistics about poverty incidence in those areas.