Sarathi: Bring the RMG workers under financial inclusion

Desk Report: The launching ceremony of Sarathi: Improving Financial Health, Swisscontact’s flagship project on financial inclusion of RMG workers and their community members. This project is funded by Metlife Foundation and implemented by Swisscontact. The launching ceremony was graced (virtually) by MA Mannan MP, the honorable Minister of Planning of the Government of Bangladesh as the Chief Gues on 21 June at a hotel in the capital. .

Sarathi is an ambitious project which will greatly benefit RMG workers. “The Swisscontact and Metlife are skilled organizations and I hope they will run it accordingly, said, MA Mannan MP, the honorable Minister of Planning of the Government of Bangladesh

They say three out of five RMG workers fell outside the purview of the formal financial institutions and only 20% of RMG workers are saving money through formal financial services whereas 80% of them are making transactions through cash.

One of the major objectives of the National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) of the government of Bangladesh is to achieve 100% financial inclusion by 2024.

While presenting Sarathi, Bipasha Sharmin Hossain, team leader of Sarathi, said that they will work to improve the financial health of the RMG workers through daily financial obligations and consumption needs to make them more financially resilient, help in financial decision-making and financial planning.

Till December 2021, Sarathi helped open salary accounts of 76,263 employees of 49 RMG factories partnering with four banks and 113 alternative delivery channels, she said. Their target for 2022-23 is to improve financial health through awareness and increase digital transactions, savings, and upskilling.

“The Sarathi initiative is a very important initiative as a part of 4.6 million RMG workers will benefit from this. It is a part of the journey towards a digital Bangladesh,saod Mohammad Hatem, Executive President, BKMEA.

Asif Ibrahim, director of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said that the RMG sector of the country is the pioneer of women empowerment in Bangladesh. He also said that the MFS have to work on creating an ecosystem, convenient access, and other issues.

Zahangir Alam, responsible sourcing, social and labour manager of Bestseller, said that they follow their own code of conduct in ensuring the safety of the workers from three perspectives like commitment, supply chain management, and risk mitigation

Mohammad Rashed, joint director of Bangladesh Bank; Mohd Ziaul H Molla, DMD, SMR and CAMLCO, Bank Asia Limited; Major General Sheikh Md Monirul Islam (retd), chief external and corporate affairs officer of bKash Limited, and Rahel Ahmed, CEO of Nagad also took part in the panel discussion.

At the event, Prajna Paramita Saha, additional director, financial inclusion division of Bangladesh Bank, presented the keynote.

Md Tariqul Islam director-general of NGO Affairs Bureau, Krishna Thacker, assistant vice president of MetLife Foundation, Ala Ahmed, CEO of MetLife Bangladesh also spoke and Manish Pandey, director-South Asia, Swisscontact presented the welcome remarks.