Shaping Inclusive Finance Transformations: Merchants Development Driving Rural Markets (SHIFT-MDDRM) – Dnet

Shaping Inclusive Finance Transformations: Merchants Development Driving Rural Markets (SHIFT-MDDRM)

Commissioned By: European Union, Project Duration: 2017 - 2021

Objective

To enhance the growth and competitiveness of retail merchants in rural Bangladesh through vertical integration with FMCG value chains and horizontal integration with financial service value chains.

Background

SHIFT-MDDRM was an initiative of UNCDF, Dnet, FBCCI, and BDMS supported by the European Union. Through introducing the usage of digital business technologies to the Micro-merchants, MDDRM aims to enhance their growth by encouraging innovation and linkages between retail and financial services industries. In the year 2021, SHIFT-MDDRM targeted 10,000 micro-merchants capacity development solutions and 100,000 consumers through awareness events in 4 districts, e.g. Sirajgonj, Tangail, Jamalpur, and Sherpur of Bangladesh.

Approach

Dnet, as a consortium member, implemented Shaping Inclusive Finance Transformations: Merchants Development Driving Rural Markets (SHIFT-MDDRM) project in Jamalpur, Sherpur, Sirajganj and Tangail districts during the period of 2017 to 2021. Under the initiative, Dnet conducted research to understand the capacity needs and business practises of Micro-merchants. On the basis of the research findings, Dnet developed knowledge solutions to enhance the business competencies of Micro-merchants. Dnet applied multiple channels to deliver the knowledge solutions to the targeted Micro-merchants. It includes ‘Amar Dokan Book’, Amar Dokan mobile app, audio content, and training.

The training and knowledge solutions were designed in order to address the needs of Micro-merchants while being mindful about their context, education, age, aspiration, and business practises. They learnt about shop decoration, customer attraction, capital protection, savings for preparedness of risk, and usage of digital financial services through the training and knowledge toolkit. Relevant business practises were drawn from the Micro-merchants during the training to make them more engaged and connected with other Micro-merchants.

Dnet organized awareness events in the community for micro-merchants and consumers on consumer protection and the integration of digital financial services into daily transactions. Dnet also organized digital trade fairs, innovation fairs and community campaigns, and developed the capacity of the leader of the local micro-merchants’ association so that they could extend their support for the business competitiveness of their association members. Dnet built a bridge between the last mile beneficiaries and first mile actors (financial institutions, DFS providers, media, regulators, and FinTech) for the exchange of knowledge for the support and business growth of micro-merchants.

Through this initiative, Dnet reached around 3,000 Micro-merchants, leaders of the Micro-merchant’s association, business development service providers, and dealers and suppliers of FMCG products through direct training and workshops. Dnet influenced more than 100,000 micro-merchants through knowledge solutions (Amar Dokan booklet, Amar Dokan Mobile app, and messages both in text and audio). We reached around 200,000 consumers and micro-merchants in the targeted four project districts through awareness and innovation events. During the pandemic, Dnet was the only institute that provided business advice to micro-merchants to address COVID-19 in their business operations. As a result of Dnet’s effort, more than 90% of Micro-merchants received benefits in business through utilizing the knowledge solutions. Changes were observed in the effort of customer attraction (94%), securing business capital (85%), and continuity in savings practises (77%) for mitigating future risks. The average daily sales of micro-merchants increased almost 1.6 times, from US $28 to US $44 within one year after they learned about the knowledge solutions.