The targeted beneficiaries of this project are the estimated 4.5 million RMG workers in Bangladesh . These workers remain outside the purview of formal banking sector despite their significant contribution in the national economy and global fashion industry. They have limited or no access to relevant, quality and affordable banking products and services.
After successful completion of the pilot phase from January 2016 to December 2017, benefiting over 1,100 RMG workers, the project will now scale-up its direct reach to at least 60,000 RMG workers with formal banking services and products.
The project is implemented through partner commercial banks that will provide banking services and products through their agent banking networks in the country. Currently, Bank Asia Ltd. and The City Bank Ltd. have signed agreements with Swisscontact in this regard. Already, 3 major RMG factories have agreed to implement these banking services for their workers. The targeted outcome of this project is to bring 30 RMG factories onboard to disburse RMG workers’ salaries through bank accounts, and improve their basic financial literacy on topics such as how to use bank accounts and cards, the benefits of saving products, gaining control and privacy over earnings, how to plan and pay for recurring expenses, gaining access to saving and credit products, etc.
To achieve its goal, the Sarathi project will work in four major areas:
- Wage Digitization
RMG workers will receive their salaries through their bank accounts using Agent Outlets, bank branches or ATMs. These accounts will be opened using tabs and biometric machines at Agent Outlets and bank branches.
- Product Development
Besides salary, customized savings and credit products will be developed offered based on RMG workers’ financial need and capacity.
- Financial Literacy
To increase RMG workers’ knowledge on the financial services and products, regular financial literacy and counselling will be conducted in and around RMG factories, targeting RMG workers and community members.
- Collaboration with regulator
With support from regulators, initiations for the development of efficient Alternate Delivery Channels to reach a wider unbanked population will be undertaken.