In April, The Partnering Initiative delivered a series of seminars and workshops to Businesses and NGOs on Partnering for inclusive growth in Bangladesh. The workshops organised by CARE Bangladesh and The Business Innovation Facility brought together for-profit and not-for-profit actors to better understand how partnering skills can help them build inclusive business models that enable low-income workers to participate in the business value chain as producers, suppliers, employees, distributors, retailers and customers.
Bangladesh has been an aid recipient for 40 years and a number of challenges still persist. However, Bangladesh is now a leading world player in developing new ways for the poor to participate in the market economy and bring themselves out of poverty whilst bringing tangible commercial benefits for businesses involved. Nonetheless, unorthodox collaborations between NGOs, self-help groups, businesses, farmers etc are still new and creating effective programmes is complex. The workshops in Dhaka comprised two half day awareness raising seminars, a 2-day intensive training course and a CEOs forum to engage leaders.
See below reports from the various events which took place in April as part of this programme.
12th April: A half day awareness raising seminar for Business practitioners on Inclusive business and partnering; 21 business professionals participated from various business functions including supply chain management, procurement, sustainability officers and CEOs. Businesses represented were both Bangladeshi such as Kazi and Kazi Tea, Ramooz Foods, KDS accessories etc as well as Mulit National Companies such as GAP, Danone, Unilever and HSBC. The Daily Star covered the event and published a small write up in the business pages.
13th April: A half day awareness raising seminar for NGO CEOs and Senior managers on inclusive business and partnering;29 senior NGO professionals participated from a wide range of issue areas covering, agriculture, women’s empowerment, poverty alleviation and market development.
19th& 20th April: A 2-day intensive partnering skills for inclusive business workshop for business and NGO practitioners. This training built understanding of the partnering attitude required for effective collaboration within inclusive business models as well as in depth sessions on each phase of The Partnering Initiative’s framework for partnering. 42 people participated in the programme from 32 organisations including businesses such as Walmart & HSBC. The programme provided excellent opportunities for NGOs and Businesses to get to know each other and practice negotiating new forms of inclusive business.
11th May: A CEOs forum attended by CEOs and senior managers from some of Bangladesh’s largest companies, including the Pran-RFL Group and ACI Logistics Ltd. Mr Niaz Rahim, Group Director of Rahimafrooz was on the panel, alongside Nick Southern, Country Director of CARE Bangladesh and Tom Harrison from the Business Innovation Facility. The Forum was titled: ‘Inclusive Business and Partnerships: Prospect for Bangladesh’. Nick Southern talked about CARE’s innovative partnerships with business, and the concept of ‘co-profiting’.
Tom Harrison developed the theme, explaining how the Business Innovation Facility support companies to develop inclusive business, and also giving feedback on the awareness raising seminars and partnering skills training, which had attracted satisfaction ratings of 80-90%. Mr Rahim then spoke powerfully about how working inclusively in partnership with SMEs in their supply chain had underpinned his battery company’s success, and now was as core strategy for their retail business. There was then a lively debate among participants, chaired expertly by Parveen Huda, the Business Innovation Facility country manager.
Responses to the material covered were extremely positive and further workshops are being planned for later in the year.