Sarathi – Progress through Financial Inclusion

Bangladesh’s RMG sector consists of 45% of the total workforce and contributes to 13% of the total GDP. 90% of the value of salaries are paid in cash and wages form 27% of the total value of payments made in Bangladesh, notable losses are incurred at these factories each year through this inefficient and opaque means of disbursement. Sarathi has observed that wage digitization helps RMG factories achieve improved efficiency through reduced transaction costs, higher productivity through faster transactions, and more transparent business management while promoting financial inclusion of RMG workers. RMG workers, despite their numbers, generally remain outside the purview of formal financial services, and Sarathi helps facilitate these services for this segment by working with partner commercial banks and RMG factories.
Project duration
2016 - 2020
Financed by
  • MetLife Foundation
  • Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC
  • Donations

The project

Sarathi- Progress through Financial Inclusion is a 36-month (January 2018- December 2020) financial inclusion project, jointly funded by MetLife Foundation and Swisscontact, and is working with commercial banks and Ready-Made Garments (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. 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 commercially viable business solutions for commercial banks to cater to the needs of the RMG workers.

The project

  • engages with international RMG buyers to encourage wage digitization in their supplier RMG factories and increase interaction with these key stakeholders through programs such as ‘Model Factory Visit’;
  • facilitates its partner commercial banks in developing Alternate Distribution Channels (agent outlets, ATM booths, biometric devices, RMG Digital Banking Booth, etc.) in strategic locations in and around RMG factories to ensure sustainable access to financial services for RMG workers;
  • facilitates the promotion of financial products and services (salary accounts, savings schemes, DPS, etc), designed specifically for RMG workers, through structured financial counselling, financial literacy training, practical demonstration sessions, and awareness campaigns;
  • facilitates its partner commercial banks in developing appropriate loan products and bundle offers that complement the financial products and services offered to the RMG workers.

Project Goals

The project targets are to:

  • Open the bank accounts of 60,000 RMG workers;
  • Conduct wage digitization through at least three commercial banks ;
  • Reach 200,000 people through financial literacy trainings and awareness campaigns;
  • Facilitate 15 RMG factories to disburse  the wage of their RMG workers through Sarathi’s partner commercial banks;
  • Set up 40 Alternate Delivery Channels such as agents, ATM booths, etc. to increase accessibility to financial transactions for RMG workers.
  • Assist Sarathi partner commercial banks to offer 20,000 value propositions to RMG workers.

Project partner

  • Bank Asia Limited
  • The City Bank Limited
  • Dutch-Bangla Bank Limited
  • Southeast Bank Limited
  • Various RMG factories


The project results as of December 2019:

  • 32,150 RMG worker salary accounts have already been opened across 18 RMG factories through three partner commercial banks.
  • Sarathi has organized 225 literacy sessions for 16,950 RMG workers.
  • 18 partner RMG factories disburse RMG workers salary through bank accounts
  • 64 Alternative Delivery Channels were made accessible to RMG workers


Upskilling and reskilling
60,000 Bank Accounts for RMG Workers
The Ready-Made Garments (RMG) sector employs 3.5 million people in Bangladesh. RMG workers, despite their numbers, generally remain outside the purview of formal financial services because around 90% of RMG workers’ salaries are paid in cash. Through the “Sarathi” project, Swisscontact helps facilitate financial services for this segment by...
Swisscontact Signs Partnership Agreement with Southeast Bank Limited
A partnership agreement was signed between Swisscontact Bangladesh and Southeast Bank Limited (SEBL) for the implementation of Sarathi- Progress through Financial Inclusion, for digitizing wage payments of number of RMG workers in factory, on 27 November 2019 at the SEBL head office in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
"Entrepreneurs Meeting with BKMEA" - jointly hosted by Sarathi and BKMEA in Chattogram
Sarathi- Progress through Financial Inclusion and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) jointly hosted “Entrepreneurs Meeting with BKMEA” on 27 August 2019 at BKMEA’s office in Chattogram. The meeting sought to introduce Sarathi’s project interventions to the association’s Board of Directors and member...