Twelve micro-entrepreneurs and two microfinance institutions have been honoured in this year's Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards for their contribution to the economy.
Citi Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Citigroup, yesterday awarded the individuals in four categories and institutions in two categories at the 12th edition of the show.
The awardees were picked up from rural areas across the country to recognise their contribution to the GDP, said Wahiduddin Mahmud, chairperson of the awards' advisory
council. “We have selected the winners for their innovative products and branding activities that are really adding value to the country's growth,” Mahmud said at the award giving ceremony at the Westin Dhaka hotel.
The winners of the Citi Micro-entrepreneurship Awards launched innovative businesses and branded products in their respective areas very successfully, he said.
The number of such micro-entrepreneurs and their contribution to the economy are growing fast, he said.
The awards were given in the best micro-entrepreneur, best women micro-entrepreneur, best youth micro-entrepreneur and best agriculture micro-entrepreneur categories.
Zillur Rahman Chowdhury from Shaluka in Naogaon won the best micro-entrepreneur of the year award for bird farming. He got Tk 4.50 lakh.
The champions of the rest three categories received Tk 3.5 lakh each.
Ruma Akter from Munshiganj became the best women micro-entrepreneur and Rubel Dewan from Ashulia in Savar won the best youth micro-entrepreneur award.
Saima Khatun from Shyamnagar in Satkhira won an award in the best micro-entrepreneur in agriculture category.
The runners-up of each category received Tk 1.5 lakh each as prize money while the second runners-up got Tk 1 lakh each.
However, there was no prize money for the winning financial institutions.
People's Oriented Program Implementation or POPI became the best microfinance institution while Village Education Resource Centre (VERC) won the award for the most innovative microfinance institution.
The contribution of SMEs to Bangladesh's GDP is 11 percent, which is very low compared with other countries, including India where the rate stands at 17 percent, said AHM Mustafa Kamal, planning minister.
“We need to increase the participation of this large segment in the economy,” he said at the award ceremony as the chief guest.
Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation has 80 lakh micro borrowers, the minister said.
The total microcredit of the foundation increased to Tk 10,700 crore in 2014 from Tk 3,700 crore in 2006, he said.
He urged the central bank, SME Foundation and non-governmental organisations to work together to promote the sector.
He also emphasised developing an independent research wing for the SMEs.
The Awards ceremony was implemented by Citibank, NA Bangladesh with Sajida Foundation as the local partner and Credit Development Forum (CDF) as the strategic partner.
Channel i and The Daily Star are the media partners of the programme.
MA Mannan, state minister for finance, and SK Sur Chowdhury, deputy governor of Bangladesh Bank, attended the programme.
James Morrow, sub-cluster head of Citi Bangladesh and Sri Lanka; Rashed Maqsood, country officer of Citi Bangladesh; Zahida Fizza Kabir, executive director of Sajida Foundation, and Abdul Awal, executive director of CDF, were also present.