The National SME Products Fair 2020 is running in the capital to promote products made in Bangladesh in both local and international markets. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was set to inaugurate the 9-day fair at the Krishibid Institution, Bangladesh (KIB) on the morning of March 4, after Dhaka Courier goes to press this week, Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun told the media at a press conference held at the SME Foundation auditorium previewing the event.

SME Foundation is organising the fair at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC).

"A total of 296 SME entrepreneurs will showcase their products at 309 stalls. Of them, 195 women and 101 men will showcase their products like jute goods, agriculture, food and leather products, electronics and electrical items," the industries minister said.

He said 66 percent of the participants are women.

Humayun said the government is working to increase the contribution of the SME sector in the country's economy.

"Products worth Tk16.93 crore were sold and SMEs received orders worth around Tk30.12 crore in the last seven national SME fairs. Besides, the products worth around Tk9.16 crore were sold and entrepreneurs received orders worth around Tk6.44 crore in the regional SME fairs held in 23 districts in 2018-19 only," he added.

Humayun said SMEs are the main driving force for socioeconomic development. With that in mind, the government approved the "SME Policy 2019" last September in the cabinet.

"Our main goal is to increase the contribution of the SME sector to GDP to 32 percent from the existing 25 percent by 2024," the minister added. "Three men and two women SME entrepreneurs will be awarded in the inaugural ceremony titled 'National SME Entrepreneurs Award-2020' for outstanding contribution in the sector."

Humayun said several seminars including 'Light Engineering: product of the year 2020 and its potential in national development', 'Increasing sale of SME products through Online platform', 'Participation of women SME entrepreneurs in export trade: Potential and Challenge', 'Digital Financing for SMEs', and 'Role of SMEs in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Bangladesh', will be held at the venue.

"We will arrange a roundtable on Thursday at 10am for foreign nationals in Bangladesh including officials of embassies and internationals organisations to promote our SME products," the minister also said.

He added many entrepreneurs are producing quality products here but they can't introduce these to buyers. So such fairs and events will help to extend market. Besides, a connection will be set in among entrepreneurs and consumers through the fairs.

"If we all work together then we can achieve vision 2021, SDGs by 2030 and development country's status by 2041 easily," the minister added.

Industries minister said media can play important role to release positive news about SMEs to encourage more investment in the sector.

The fair will remain open for all from 10am to 8pm. There will be no entry fee.

Industries Secretary Md Abdul Halim and SME Foundation Managing Director Md Shafiqul Islam were present at the event, among others.

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