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Sarathi – Progress through Financial Inclusion

Sarathi - Progress through Financial Inclusion is a project that aims to build an ecosystem where wage digitization promotes financial inclusion of Ready-Made Garments (RMG) workers, while also benefitting RMG factories and building a commercially-viable business model for the commercial banks that participate in the process.

Bangladesh’s RMG sector consists of 45% of the total workforce and contributes to 13% of the total GDP. RMG workers, despite their numbers, remain outside the purview of formal financial services as cash-based transactions have been the primary method of transaction made by and to businesses in the country. RMG factories, at the same time, incur consequential losses each year through this inefficient and opaque means of disbursement Sarathi underwent a 22-month (January 2016-December 2017) pilot phase and was successful in testing the relevance and feasibility of agent banking model as a potential solution to reach the target group. Sarathi believed wage digitization can help 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.

The Project

Sarathi is a 30-month (January 2018- June 2020) financial inclusion project, jointly funded by MetLife Foundation and Swisscontact. Sarathi is working with commercial banks and 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

  • Open bank accounts of 60,000 RMG workers through 3 commercial banks; and
  • Reach 200,000 people through financial literacy training and awareness programs.


Results 2018

  • 11,235 salary accounts opened for RMG workers (140% above the target) by two partner banks in 1st year.
  • First ever RMG digital banking booth launched which is a start of market system change.
  • 7560 RMG workers participated in 127 financial literacy trainings.
  • The project has been highlighted as in Innovation in different panel discussions by govt and other development partners.
  • It has strong pipe line of RMG factories and Commercial banks to engage in this journey.