Des progrès grâce à l'inclusion financière – “Sarathi” (angl.)

Bangladesh is one of the world’s largest garment exporters, with the RMG sector accounting for over 80 percent of the country’s exports and contributing more than 11 percent to the GDP. The garment industry employs between four to five million workers. Many RMG factories still pay their workers in cash who therefore fall outside the purview of formal financial institutions. RMG workers are unaware of efficient and formal savings mechanisms, which would help them to improve their financial resilience. In case of financial urgency, they seek loans from their relatives, neighbours and friends or local loan sharks. Factories, on the other hand, make notable losses through this inefficient, insecure and opaque means of disbursement. The Sarathi project promotes wage digitization which improves the financial inclusion of RMG workers while benefitting RMG factories through decreased payroll processing costs, less lost worker production time and enhanced security.
District Dhaka
District Gazipur 
Narayanganj District
Tangail District
Chittagong District
Durée du projet
2016 - 2023

Le projet

The Sarathi project aims at bringing Ready-Made Garment (RMG) workers within the sphere of formal banking services and improve their financial health. Financial health is a state in which a person’s finances allow them to meet current needs, to absorb financial shocks, and to pursue financial goals, with the aim to live a life with dignity. 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. A focus is laid on the financial inclusion of women who constitute over 60% of the RMG workforce and are the backbone of the RMG industry. The project is jointly funded by MetLife Foundation and Swisscontact.

In the pilot and first phases of the Sarathi project (2016-2020), sustainable business models have been designed and tested together with RMG factories and commercial banks. Through partnerships with four commercial banks and 49 RMG factories, the project opened bank accounts for 76,000 RMG workers and established 113 delivery channels (agent outlets, ATM booths, biometric devices, RMG Digital Banking Booths etc.) in the RMG factories and communities. In addition, through demand generation activities and awareness campaigns around 200,000 people learned about the importance of associating with formal financial institutions, household budget management, formal savings, and credit opportunities.

However, access to a salary account is not enough. In its second project phase (2021-2023), the Sarathi project is committed to ensuring improved financial health and overall wellbeing of the target group. To this end, the project will conduct the following activities:

Component 1: Improving the financial health of RMG workers

  • Create digitized financial access points in the RMG communities in partnership with formal financial institutions.
  • Support formal financial institutions in introducing and scaling up their micro loan, savings and insurance products for RMG workers and their community members.
  • Partner with technology companies and international brands to create access and promote good quality and affordable smart phones and tablets in the RMG communities to enable digitized financial transaction by RMG workers and their community members.

Component 2: Up-skilling female RMG workers

  • Facilitate skills upgradation training and apprenticeship of 1,100 female RMG workers in partnership with the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association and international fashion brands.
  • Facilitate access to entrepreneurship training, incubation services and loans of 400 potential female entrepreneurs.

Partenaire du projet

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

Results Phase 1 (2017 - 2020)

  • 76,000 RMG worker salary accounts have been opened through four partner commercial banks.
  • The project has organized 242 literacy sessions for 17,850 RMG workers.
  • 49 partner RMG factories disburse RMG workers salary through bank accounts.
  • 113 Alternative Delivery Channels are accessible to RMG workers.

Expected Results Phase 2 (2021 - 2023)

  • 200,000 RMG workers and community members conduct digital banking transactions through formal financial institutions.
  • 70,000 RMG workers and community members access improved formal savings products.
  • 30,000 RMG workers and community members build short-term or long-term insurance plans.
  • 10,000 RMG workers and community members have a credit profile.
  • 1,100 female RMG workers complete a skills upgradation training.
  • 400 potential female entrepreneurs from the RMG communities receive entrepreneurship training, incubation services and start-up loans from formal financial institutions.

Financing partners

The Sarathi project is financed by the MetLife Foundation. It is part of the Swisscontact Development Programme, which is co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA. 

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