The objective of the workshop was to share the learnings from Sarathi’s first year of implementation and create a platform which promotes better project steering and sustainability of the outcomes. The discussions included Sarathi’s learnings from challenges faced in acquiring RMG factories so partner commercial banks can initiate wage digitization and in conducting financial literacy trainings for RMG workers and their peer groups. Sarathi also analyzed and reviewed the performance of its partner commercial banks in opening bank accounts. This analysis was used to provide guidance and direction to the commercial banks for more efficient performance in future acquisitions. Sarathi team was able to discuss possible modifications to its implementation activities to suit the requirements of the RMG factories. The project was also able to highlight some risks identified (RMG workers providing false nominees, sharing pin numbers with others, etc.) and discuss means of minimizing the risks. Feedback and participation from commercial banks and RMG factories enriched the understanding of the challenges, mitigation methods and necessary action for better transition into a digitized wage disbursement system for both parties as well as for Sarathi.
Representatives from two partner commercial banks- Bank Asia Limited and The City Bank Limited- and three RMG factories- Millennium Textiles Limited, Ananta Jeanswear Limited and Shomahar Sweaters Limited- attended the workshop.
Sarathi – Progress through Financial Inclusion is a 30-month project (Jan 2018-Jun 2020), jointly funded by MetLife Foundation and Swisscontact. It is working with commercial banks and RMG factories in Bangladesh to bring RMG workers, especially women, within the sphere of formal banking services and to enable them to conduct financial transactions as account holders and clients. The 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 inadequate commercially-viable business solutions for banks to cater to their needs.