Sarathi- Progress through Financial Inclusion and Bank Asia Limited, a Sarathi partner commercial bank, celebrated International Women’s Day 2019 with Ready-Made Garments (RMG) workers at Echotex Limited, a Sarathi partner RMG factory, on 10 March 2019.
The event was hosted to celebrate the contributions of female RMG workers in the RMG sector of Bangladesh, one of the key driving forces in the country’s economy. The RMG sector employs approximately 4.4 million workers and around 60% of the workforce is female. Sarathi is working with commercial banks and RMG factories to bring RMG workers, especially women, within the sphere of formal banking services. Through wage digitization, the project empowers RMG workers to conduct financial transactions as account holders and clients. Sarathi and Bank Asia marked the occasion by screening Sarathi’s docudrama at the factory premises. The docudrama reflects on the benefits of availing formal banking services (such as savings accounts and Deposit Premium Schemes) through a crisis faced by a female RMG worker and her realization that availing the services would better prepare her to mitigate such circumstances. The participants were also presented with gifts and flowers as a token of appreciation. Around 40 RMG workers of Echotex Limited attended the event.
Sarathi’s project activities are directed to find market-based and scalable solutions that address underlying constraints such as inadequate financial literacy; lack of access to formal banking services; and commercially-viable business solutions for commercial banks to cater to the needs of the RMG workers. Sarathi and Bank Asia have established the first RMG Digital Banking Booth in the Echotex premises. This delivery channel model is similar to a mini branch, equipped with ATMs and a vault. It will also consist of a customer services desk staffed by full-time bank officers who will provide support and information to RMG workers regarding banking products and services. All core banking services, such as cash deposit, account opening, application forms for savings (Deposit Premium Scheme and Fixed Deposit Receipt) and loan products, and cash withdrawal and remittance will be offered and processed through the booth. Aside from foreign currency, the booth will allow RMG workers to avail all banking services through the dedicated delivery channel within their factory premises. Thus far, around 11,000 salary accounts have been opened at this RMG factory.
Sarathi- Progress through Financial Inclusion is a 30-month (January 2018- June 2020) financial inclusion project, jointly funded by MetLife Foundation and Swisscontact.