Swisscontact & SWAP join hands to increase RMG workers access to technology

Upskilling and Reskilling, Entrepreneurial ecosystems
Sarathi- Improving Financial Health, a project co-funded by Swisscontact and MetLife Foundation, signed an MoU with SWAP Bangladesh to increase access to digital financial services through smartphone penetration in the low-income community, particularly RMG workers. As Bangladesh grows closer to the dream of creating a ‘Digital Bangladesh’, only around 2.5 million ready-made garment (RMG) workers of Bangladesh have been reported to use smartphones, according to a recent baseline study conducted by ‘Sarathi- Improving Financial Health’, the flagship financial inclusion project of Swisscontact Bangladesh. Majority RMG workers continue to use feature phones due to lack of access to affordable smartphones, usability barriers from lack of digital literacy, and not being aware of the benefits of smartphones like access to digital financial solutions (DFS) such as credit, saving, insurance, payment, and social safety net.

To address this digital divide and increase RMG workers access to DFS through smartphone penetration, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Sarathi and SWAP Bangladesh Ltd. on 24 November 2022. Bipasha S. Hossain, Team Leader, Sarathi, Swisscontact Bangladesh, and Md Parvez Hossain, Managing Director and CEO, SWAP, signed the contract, in presence of the Sarathi team and SWAP representatives. Together they intend to increase access to affordable smartphones in the RMG communities through SWAP’s re-commerce model using ‘Livewire’ outlets. Awareness and promotional campaigns like discount offers, installment payment facilities, 1-year warranty benefits, etc. are going to be held surrounding multiple kiosks placed inside RMG factories of Savar, Gazipur, Narayanganj, and Chattogram.

At the signing ceremony Md Parvez Hossain, CEO & MD of SWAP said, ‘SWAP aims to ensure affordable access to technology for all Bangladeshis so they can utilize all the technological and digital financial benefits smartphones have to offer. We are glad that Swisscontact is collaborating with us to facilitate affordable technology for RMG worker households.’

Upskilling and Reskilling
Sarathi – Progress Through Improved Financial Health
Bangladesh is the world’s second largest garment exporter, with the ready-made garment (RMG) sector accounting for over 83% of the country’s exports and contributing approximately 16% to the GDP. This industry encompasses more than 4 000 RMG factories and provides employment to approximately 4.2 million workers of which almost 60% are women. Even though the RMG sector plays a pivotal role in Bangladesh’s economy, only 34% of it was integrated into the formal financial system when Swisscontact started to work towards the financial inclusion of RMG workers and their community members in 2016.