Microentrepreneurs Asia Data Platform is a result of UNCDF’s “Merchants Development Driving Rural Markets” (MDDRM) project funded by the European Union under the Poverty Reduction through Inclusive and Sustainable Markets (PRISM) action. This project is implemented under UNCDF’s The Shaping Inclusive Finance Transformations (SHIFT) for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries a regional market-facilitation initiative aiming to improve livelihoods and reduce poverty in SAARC countries by 2021. UNCDF is implementing MDDRM in partnership with Dnet, The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry [FBCCI] and Bangladesh Dokan Malik Samity [BDMS]. MDDRM aims to stimulate expansion of digital technologies for Micro-merchant segments by encouraging innovation and linkages between retail and financial services industries. MDDRM primarily focuses its interventions in: Sirajgonj, Tangail, Jamalpur, and Sherpur districts targeting 10,000 retail Micro-merchants. In creating the desired impact on Micro-merchants, the project prioritizes the following 4 areas:
Making information and data sets on Micro-merchants available and accessible to policy makers and private sector actors
Developing capacity building tools, information and support services for Micro-merchants
Raising awareness, educating and sensitizing consumers, policy makers and private sector players
Piloting innovative business models aimed for Micro-merchants with FMCGs and DFS providers
Through multiple phases of innovative research, the project will bring to light issues pertaining to Micro-merchants from the angles of business portfolio, practices, capacity needs and innovations as below:
A large-scale quantitative survey delving into the socioeconomic profiles, regular business practices and access to technology and financial services.
A qualitative research exploring the capacity development needs for business growth of Micro-merchants.
A qualitative research attempting to understand the day-to-day business practices, cultural and behavioral patterns behind their financial decisions of Micro-merchants and consumers.
A qualitative research attempting to devise a communication and educational strategy through a systematic research to disseminate the required knowledge and information among the targeted Micro-merchants and retail customers for business and service awareness.
An exploratory research defining, identifying and profiling the ideal set of business development service providers for microentrepreneurs in general and Micro-merchants in particular.
The platform offers visual exploration of data from the retail Micro-merchants landscape assessment. 2,100 retail Micro-merchants participated in the study across Bangladesh. This platform is unprecedented repository of data set about retail Micro-merchants in Bangladesh.
Microentrepreneurs Asia is a data analytics and information hub about retail micro-merchants enaggaed in FMCG. Micro-merchants are identified as those “employing no more than 15 employees and/or holding assets worth less than BDT 1 million, excluding land and buildings”, as per the National Industrial Policy 2016. In addition to this definition, Micro-merchants sampled for this study needed to be exclusively engaged in retail trade. The platform offers the following:
Interactive exploration of data
Access to a rich repository of data
Access to a knowledge bank
There is inadequate evidence and absence of reliable data and market information about microentrepreneurs in the region. Such lack of complete and accessible data dampens public policy and private sector investments thereby undermining the economic potential of this large community. Data gaps are even more severe for women owned and run businesses in rural backwaters of the region. More data of high quality about Microentrepreneurs will translate into better prospects for the sector.
Among other constraints, microentrepreneurs are constrained by lack of entrepreneurial, managerial and technical skills which significantly limit growth potential. The problem of adequate skills varies according to the sizes of enterprises suggesting that lack of knowledge and skills is particularly acute in smaller and micro size businesses. Making appropriate training materials available for microentrepreneurs can help them overcome critical skill deficits at their own pace.
There is also a lack of reliable and up-to-date information on the sector of business development services for MSMEs in general. This, coupled with the lack of understanding of microentrepreneurs reality, impedes the development of appropriate capacity development solutions. Proper identification, mapping and profiling of such services can enable microentrepreneurs to build core skills and create linkages with larger value chains.
The platform thrives in the spirit of open data and collaboration with the objective of facilitating data-driven decision-making for businesses and policy-makers. It aims to achieve the objective by helping:
Build innovative business models
Identify business process improvements
Make informed policy decision
Build operation research interest
The data portal provides access to data about retail Micro-merchants in Bangladesh.