BANGLADESH & MALAYSIA: Good City Foundation Facilitated The UNDP Bangladesh WING Program For Women-Led Digital Economy Development with Malaysia Market
SEPTEMBER 2022 — The Good City Foundation was appointed as International Consultant to facilitate The UNDP Bangladesh WING Program and SWAPNO Program to conduct a professional learning exchange in Malaysia in the domains of women-led business digitalisation and digital economy transformation.
A team of 7 representatives from UNDP Bangladesh including Mr. Prasenjit Chakma, Assistant Resident Representative (ARR), Mr. Kajal Chatterjee National Project Manager WING & SWAPNO Project, Ms. Sarah Zita National Consultant of the WING Program and Ms. Sharmin Islam, Gender Team Leader were engaged in the trip to Penang (World Congress on Innovation and Technology) and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.
The Women’s Empowerment for Inclusive Growth (WING) programme is a joint initiative of UNDP, UN Women and UNCDF. It aims to contribute to women’s inclusion in the local development by supporting women’s economic empowerment. WING’s intervention is strategically aimed at targeting the “missing middle”, post poverty pockets of the population, in between start-up and industrial establishments that are considered too big for micro-finance but too small for formal bank credit, un-recognized local political and economic women representative groups, to create a new generation of actors as economic agents capable of attaining sustainable progress within Bangladesh’s economy.
More About the UNDP Bangladesh Official Visit to Malaysia
The emergence of women-led micro, small, and medium enterprises (WoMSMEs) is considered a game-changer for the Malaysian economy in the era of digitalisation. Given the current constraints of the Malaysian economy to grow beyond the middle-income trap, the women-owned small and medium enterprises are envisioned as the catalyst, leading the Malaysian economy out of this middle-income trap. While the microenterprises owned by women are expected to bring in more inclusiveness and gender parity in the economy, the small ventures can feed into the big business to act as an enabler of growth, and the medium enterprises have the potential to emerge as drivers of growth themselves.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated e-commerce adoption among WoMSMEs. Many WoMSMEs established their businesses in 2020 and 2021, mostly on social media sites (Facebook, Instagram) and e-commerce platforms (Shopee, Lazada). These e-commerce adopters are relatively young (18–25 years old), have college degrees, and have adequate ICT knowledge to run an ecommerce business.
According to the Economic Census, 2016 by the Department of Statistics Malaysia, women entrepreneurs have contributed about 69.1 billion Malaysian ringgit (RM) to the country’s GDP. Additionally, women-owned businesses have created a total of 786,132 job opportunities with a salary of RM11.1 billion. It is to be noted that 1 Malaysian Ringgit equals 21.25 Bangladeshi Taka.
Last year in August, The Entrepreneur Development and Cooperative Ministry (MEDAC) collaborated with SME Corp Malaysia to help women entrepreneurs to master e-commerce through its Women Netpreneur programme. It also collaborated with non-profit organisation Gorgeous Geeks Malaysia to improve women entrepreneurs’ digital skills and increase their income and marketability.
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which entered into force on January 1, 2022, is a mega free trade agreement (FTA). It is considered the largest free trade deal in the world. It is envisioned to boost the recovery efforts of its 15 signatories — 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member-states, Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea — from the economic fallout of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The deal is envisioned to empower women-led MSMEs to engage in cross-border e-commerce trade through RCEP.
Given all wicked challenges and market opportunities, a UNDP Bangladesh official delegation was set off to Penang and Kuala Lumpur in attendance to the World Congress on Innovation and Technology and various visits and meetings with key stakeholders, digital startup accelerator, Malaysian Government agencies and women entrepreneur association respectively, on 14th — 18th September.