E-learning modules improving financial literacy of small entrepreneurs
AKM Kamal Uddin Chowdhury
DHAKA, Dec 30, 2021 (BSS) – E-learning modules - ekShop landing page (https://academy.ekshop.gov.bd/) and ShopUp landing page-1 and page-2 (https://blog.shopup.com.bd/) - have become popular among the small and micro entrepreneurs in Bangladesh as the modules are helping them fill the digital and financial literacy gap.
“Earlier, I had to face many problems to run my craft business due to digital and financial literacy gap. Through the ekShop landing page, I have improved my knowledge and now, my business is running smoothly. My income has also increased than earlier,” said Marufa Begum, mother of a son and a daughter at Dakhin Ajodhapur under Rangpur Sadar Upazila.
She thanked the a2i (Aspire to Innovate) for taking the initiative and said through the e-learning module, she is able to gather enough knowledge on business planning, budget making, savings, financing plan and digital mindset.
Posts and Telecommunications Minister Mustafa Jabbar said the government is implementing different initiatives to reach digital facilities at the doorsteps of the country’s people and for that, e-learning have become popular in Bangladesh.
“In the different indicators of the digitization, Bangladesh is in good position. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Bangladesh’s economy remains stable due to digitization,” he added.
The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and Visa, along with local partners, Aspire to Innovate (a2i), ekShop and ShopUp, have developed the custom suite of basic e-learning modules to help fill the digital and financial literacy gap for small and micro-businesses (SMBs).
UNCDF and its partners have developed the modules as part of the ‘Build Back Better – Enhancing Recovery and Resilience of Small and Micro-Businesses’ project.
This project aims to improve the digital and financial literacy of entrepreneurs in Bangladesh, particularly women, empowering these entrepreneurs to confidently adopt and leverage new digital services that improve their competitiveness and performance.
In the initial phase of the ‘Build Back Better – Enhancing Recovery and Resilience of Small and Micro-Businesses project, UNCDF and Visa partnered with ShopUp and ekShop, two of the most prominent SMBs integrators in the country.
UNCDF and Visa also commissioned a Rapid Needs Assessment to evaluate the existing level of financial and digital literacy of SMBs that was launched at an online event on 24 May 2021 with participants from across leading public and private sector organizations globally and in South Asia.
This study found substantial gaps in the digital literacy levels of entrepreneurs in Bangladesh. Over 50 percent of SMBs in the study had poor understanding of how digital and financial services could help their businesses, and financial literacy gaps were even more pronounced for women entrepreneurs.
These gender gaps persist despite increasing awareness from women-led SMBs on the need to be financially literate, plan and actively manage their personal and business finances.
Based on the above findings of the assessment, UNCDF and its partners have developed the modules on finance and business management, including audio-visual and app-based tools. The modules available for e-learning purposes will be continually updated with additional content.
The modules leverage Visa’s Practical Business Skills (PBS) financial educational programme,and theyare also specifically designed to target gender-specific gaps in conceptual ability and technical knowledge, focusing on improving knowledge of interest and inflation rate concepts and calculations as well as providing tools to assist in incorporating these concepts for business decision-making.
These modules are embedded within the on boarding platform of ekShop and ShopUp in the form of topic-based online lessons. This is allowing any small and micro-business on the platform to directly access these tools. In conjunction with the rollout of these modules, UNCDF is providing training support to assist SMBs with the on boarding process, with a focus on closing gender gaps in digital and financial literacy.
Based on feedback from participants on the basic modules, UNCDF and its partners will subsequently develop advanced modules to cover higher-order business knowledge and skills, such as building financial statements and record keeping, business risk management and environmental sustainability.
In the initial roll-out of the e-learning modules, this project ishelping 5,000 women-led and owned small and micro-businesses acquire the necessary digital and financial capabilities to access and use the tools they need to grow their business in the digital age. This project is giving access to digital and financial literacy e-learning modules to 200,000 SMBs over two years.