The Saarc Development Fund is developing an e-commerce platform for trade in goods and services and plans to fund start-ups, said its chief executive officer Sunil Motiwal.
“A proposal to develop a cross-border e-commerce platform along with a Saarc money card for the common people across the region is under finalisation,” he said in a statement yesterday.
He summarised the outcome of the recent two-day Saarc Development Fund Partnership Conclave, an event of strategic and regional importance for growth of the region with multilateral development banks such as the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in New Delhi.
Motiwal said the common e-commerce platform has a great potential for enhancing the intra-Saarc trade and services.
For instance, consumers of Bangladesh textile anywhere in the region and beyond can place orders on the platform.
Similarly, a range of commodities, including fruits and vegetables grown in Bhutan, Pakistan or India can be sold and bought online, the CEO said.
On regulatory issues facing e-commerce, Motiwal said: “We will connect with regulators and central banks of all Saarc member-countries and emphasise the underlying potential of online trading.”
There is also a proposal to introduce a plastic Saarc money card, which can have denominations of all the currencies in the region, he said.
According to Motiwal, initiatives such as e-commerce platform along with funding start-ups found instant support among international funding organisations.
The start-up programme will include entrepreneurs in areas such as renewable energy, agriculture, health and micro-enterprises.
Motiwal urged young entrepreneurs from the eight Saarc countries — Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Maldives, Nepal and Bhutan — to take advantage of the proposed e-commerce and start-up projects.
“You can come up with a proposal which will be funded by the SDF, which has a capital base of $500 million.”
The Saarc region has the age profile of 15-24 years, a perfect fit for online business, Motiwal pointed out. Besides, it has a huge pool of skilled and low-cost workforce and abundant natural resources.
Currently, only 4 percent of the total trade of the Saarc countries is taking place within the region. And Motiwal said trade can be increased significantly by the initiatives like e-commerce.
Stakeholders can work on building common facilities for logistics, warehousing and transportation, he added.