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Overview of Sme in Bangladesh

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The Case for the SMEs

The SMEs1 worldwide are recognized as engines of economic growth. The commonly perceived merits often emphasized for their promotion especially in the developing countries like Bangladesh include their relatively high labour intensity, dependence on indigenous skills and technology, contributions to entrepreneurship development and innovativeness and growth of industrial linkages. The case for fostering SME growth in Bangladesh is irrefutable as these industries offer bright prospects for creating large-scale employment and income earning opportunities at relatively low cost for the un-and unemployed especially in the rural areas strengthening the efforts towards achieving high and sustained economic growth which are critically important prerequisites for triggering an exit from endemic poverty and socio-economic deprivation. These promotional arguments for the SMEs, while universally emphasized are often put forward by their ardent advocates in a small versus large context and thus arouse serious debates concerning their economic viability. Much of such controversies may, however breakdown if the intrinsic virtues specific to SMEs and unavailable to large-scale industries are correctly identified and carefully exploited. A combined interaction of the forces of product-mix, locational factors, technological advantages and market advantages create opportunities for SMEs to grow and prosper at all levels of development which are often ignored by the traditional approach to their economic strengths and development potentials. The growing economic significance of the SMEs as sources of new business creation and employment generation in the developed, OECD countries especially since 1970s is now widely recognized in an increasingly growing volume of literature (OECD1997). The recent structural shifts in industrial production from the Fordist approach of mass production to more flexible and adaptable production regime in response to constantly changing market opportunities have led to a notable resurgence of these industries in the West. The re-emergence of the SMEs in the developed world makes economic case for fostering development of these industries more stronger than ever before.


Following the industrial Policy 1999 (IP- 1999), “Small Industries” are defined as industrial enterprises employing less than 50 workers and/or having a fixed capital investment of less than Tk. 100 million “Medium industry” covers enterprises employing between 50 and 99 workers and/or having a fixed capital investment between Tk. 100 and 300 million. “Cottage Industry” covers household-based industrial units operated mainly with family labour.


Place of SMEs in the National Economy of Bangladesh Any precise quantitative estimate of the importance of SMEs in Bangladesh economy is precluded by non-availability of comprehensive statistical information about these industries at the national level. The latest BSCIC estimates suggest that there are currently 55,916 small industries and 511,612 cottage industries excluding handlooms. Including handlooms, the number of cottage units shoots upto 600,000 units indicating numerical superabundance of the SCIs in Bangladesh. Quoting informal Planning Commission estimates, the SMDF puts the number of medium enterprises (undefined) to be around 20,000 and that of SCIs to be between 100,000 to 150,000. This wide variation in the BSCIC and Planning Commission estimates of the numerical, size of the SMEs might be due to at least two reasons: (a) different set of definitions of the SMEs and (b) different coverage of SME families. This strongly suggests the need for adopting and using an uniform set of definitions for SMEs by all Government agencies to help formulation of pro-active SME promotion policies. Whatever the correct magnitude, the SMEs are undoubtedly quite predominant in the industrial structure of Bangladesh comprising over 90% of all industrial units. This numerical predominance of the SMEs in Bangladesh’s industrial sector becomes visible in all available sources of statistics on them (Ahmed, M.U 2001). Together, the various categories of SMEs are reported to contribute between 80 to 85 per cent of industrial employment and 23 per cent of total civilian employment (SEDF, 2003)2. However, serious controversies surround their relative contribution to Bangladesh’s industrial output due to paucity of reliable information and different methods used to estimate the magnitude. The most commonly quoted figure by different sources (ADB, World Bank, Planning Commission and BIDS) relating to value added contributions of the SMEs is seen to vary between 45 to 50 per cent of the total manufacturing value added. While the SMEs are characteristically highly diverse and heterogeneous, their traditional dominance is in a few industrial sub-sectors such as food, textiles and light engineering and wood, care and bamboo products. According to SEDF sources quoted from ADB (2003), food and textile units including garments account for over 60% of the registered SMEs. However, as identified by various recent studies, (Ahme, M.U. 2001, ADB 2001, US-AID 2001) the SMEs have undergone significant structural changes in terms of product composition, degree of
The robustness of SME contributions to employment generation is a common phenomenon in most developing countries in that the magnitude varies between 70 to 95 per cent in Africa and 40 to 70 per cent in the countries of the Asia-Pacific region (Ahmed, M.U. 1999).



capitalization and market perpetration in order to adjust to changes in technology, market demand and market access brought by globalization and market liberalization. 3.0 Growth and Structural Transformation of SMEs Despite data limitations some rough indications may be provided regarding the trend of SME sector growth as presented the Table 1. Table 1 Growth of SSIs sector (Excluding Handlooms) in Bangladesh Year No. of Units Small 1981 1991 2001 (end of June) Average Annual Growth Rate (% change)
Source: Ahmed, M.U., 2001.

Employment Small 322110 523472 808959 7.55 Cottage 855200 1331032 166724 4.73

Cottage 321743 405476 511621 2.95

Value Added (TK.) Small and Cottage Combined 17987 21154 29323 3.15

24590 38294 55916 6.36

In terms of number of establishment, the SME sub-sector has exhibited notable dynamism, registering reasonably high growth rates over the decades of 1980s and 1990s. This numerical expansion of the SMEs has contributed towards substantial new business creation in the industrial economy of Bangladesh. Available evidence (Ahmed M.U. 1992) suggests that the SMEs were responsible for giving birth to 60 percent of the new industrial enterprises during 1980s. Growth in SME employment seems to have been even better during the same period. The dismal performance in value added growth is explained by the weak and faulty data base used by the BBS to estimate the parameters. This phenomenon of gross underestimation of SME value added resulting from weak estimation procedures used by the BBS has been confirmed by many researchers (Bakht 2001). Indeed, when revised estimates of value addition in the SMEs are made using the new system of national accounts3, the annual compound rate of growth of value

The revised value added estimate made by the BBS is based on a New System of National Accounts (i.e. SNA 1993) which classifies the economy into 15 sectors compared to 11 in the old system and uses 1995/96 us the base year compared to 1984/85.



added (Table 2) by the SME sector not only shots upto 7.7 per cent per annum during 1989/90 and 1994/95, it exceeds that of the large-scale industries during most of the 1990s. This trend exhibits dynamism and vibrancy of the SME sector except in late 1990s when growth of the sector tapprred off slightly due to extensive damages caused to the sector by the 1998 floods, especially to its production and capital stock. Table 2 Structural Change of SSIs in Bangladesh Industry Seb-sector Rice Mills Bakery Flour Mills Light Engineering Works Printing & Publishing Readymade Garments Saw Mills Soaps Plastic Products Automobile Servicing & Repairing Total Source: Ahmed, M.U., 2001 Another important indicator of SME dynamism is reflected through changes in product composition and structural transformation occurred to the sector overtime and shown in Table 3. No. of Units, 1978 No 12242 2167 1315 1120 995 757 713 143 74 296 19822 % of total 51.00 9.02 5.42 4.66 4014 3.15 2.97 0.59 0.31 1.23 82.59 No. of Units, 1991 No 13482 2765 1718 2252 1775 2365 1023 351 725 550 27006 % of total 35.21 7.22 4.45 5.88 4.64 6.18 2.67 0.92 1.89 1.44 70.52

4. In order to determine policy priorities for sub-sector development within the SME sector an exercise was carried out under the JOBS study (JOBS 1998) for identifying dominant sub-sectors. On the basis of employment criterion, the following sub-sectors at four-digit levels turned out to be dominant in descending order: Bakery, Specialized handlooms, Dyeing and printing, Footwear, Plastic Products, Steel Furniture, Electrical goods, and Engineering workshops.


Table 3 Manufacturing GDP in Constant 1995/96 Prices by Size Category Year Value Added in Large Industry (Million Tk.) 111126 117817 126462 137846 149220 166297 134795 Value Added in Small Industry (Million Tk.) 45037 48316 51929 55925 60334 65220 54460 Share of Large Industry in Manfg. GDP 71.2 70.6 70.9 71.1 71.2 71.8 71.2 Yearly Compound Rate of Growth (%) Large Small Industry Industry 6.0 7.3 6.7 7.4 7.4 7.5 71.2 7.6 8.4 7.7 8.4 7.7

1989/90 1990/91 1991/92 1992/93 1993/94 1994/95 Annual Average from 1989/90 to 1994/95 1995/96 1996/97 1997/98 1998/99 1999/00 Annual Average from 1995/96 to 1999/00 Annual Average from 1989/90 to 1999/00

175732 182704 199668 208033 217083 196644

70619 76091 81240 81849 85122 7/884

71.3 70.6 71.1 71.8 71.8 71.3

5.7 4.8 6.3 5.8 5.8 5.5

8.3 8.0 7.6 5.8 5.5 5.5






Source: Ahmed, M.U. 2001.

It will be noted form the Table that broadly four industry categories such as food and allied products, textiles and apparels, and engineering and fabricated metal products are currently dominant in the SME sector. However, at the disaggregated levels, important structural changes appear to have taken place in the sector between 1978 and 1991. For example, at the four-digit level, while three out of the top ten industries accounted for 82% enterprises and 63% of gross output in 1978 and 70 % of enterprises and 53% of gross output in 1991, the number of top industries has shot upto seven, spreading over light engineering, readymade garments, printing and publishing and wood and wood products. 6

The other new industries which have grown in importance in the SME sector in the recent years are plastic products, electrical goods, electronics, artificial jewellery, wooden and steel furniture, television and radio assembling and soaps and detergents. This is reflective of a structural change taking place in the SME sector from traditional to relatively modern product categories, perhaps with higher capitalization and use of better production techniques. Summarizing the findings of various major studies the SMDF lists the following important positive changes taking place in the situation of the SMEs in Bangladesh: - SMEs have diversified their activities - Entry and exit into the sector has become easier - The RMG industry has contributed significantly to SME development by providing them with orders for accessories and packaging materials - The development of the footwear industry has increased subcontracts to SMEs - Small-scale entrepreneurship has grown significantly in agro-processing in general and in poultry in particular.


Constraints to SME Growth It is important to understand the operational strengths and weaknesses of the SME sector for pragmatic policy making and effective implementation of such policies. Given an excessive heterogeneity and almost a bewildering diversity in the type, composition and characteristics of the members of the SME facilities it is exceedingly difficult to have any precise diagnosis of their operational constraints. Over the years many studies have been carried out to identity the operational bottlenecks encountered by the SME entrepreneurs. One of the most recent studies (Sarder, J. 2001) based on a small sample of 19 entrepreneurs identified the following (as perceived by the respondents) as the major difficulties faced by them: - lack of modern technology - lack of adequate investments - irregular/inadequate supply of power - high rate of interest on bank loans - inadequate availability of raw materials - absence of clear-cut government policies - fierce competition - lack of skilled technicians and workers 7

- lack of research and development facilities. These are very commonly perceived and also perhaps generally encountered difficulties of operation of the SMEs. However, a close scrutiny and careful interpretation tends to reveal that lack of institutional credit, non-availability of working capital, low levels of technology, low productivity, and lack of marketing facilities and market access problems are the major bottlenecks to SME growth in Bangladesh. In the recent years, domestic law and order conditions, unreliable power supply and stiff competition both in domestic and international markets seem to have been the added dimensions to the SME operational bottlenecks. However, systematic and in-depth studies based on sufficiently large samples are needed to precisely identify the operational woes of the different categories of the SMEs. 5.0 SME Assistance Policies and Institutional Arrangements The economic efficiency and overall performance of the SMEs especially in the developing countries are considerably dependent upon macroeconomic policy environment and specific promotion policies pursued for their benefit. It is thus important to examine the policy environment and institutional support within which the SMEs operate. Though promotion of SME development has been a stated objective of successive governments ever since Pakistan days, the broad macro policy regime has continued to remain biased against SME development in many ways. Allocation of public sector investments, trade policies and taxation policies in particular have mostly been anti-SME development in character and contents (ADB, 2002). The specific promotional policies and support measures such as extension services, financial and physical support form the public sector agencies and the development partners have also not always been adequately effective. Weak and inefficient management and lack of proper implementation of the various policy support measures have rendered various assistance relate business advisory services, such as training, credit marketing and physical infrastructural facilities (through BSCIC’s Industrial Estates Programme), much less effective than desired. The private sector efforts through participation of MIDAS, BASIC and selected NGOs (especially GB, BRAC and Proshika) have not so for been adequate especially in SME promotion. The SMEs because of their structural weaknesses, such as, scale barriers, inefficient management and weak technological capacities therefore need pro-active policies and institutional support in addition to removal of existing policy biases. Though BSCIC has been the key public sector agency responsible for supporting SME promotion for a long time, its operational efficiency remains weak for a number of structural and administrative and managerial bottlenecks. 8

While “ getting the Government out of business” and greater participation of the private sector are now emphasized as key strategies for development, some public sector participation for desirable monitoring of selected essential public services such as, effective legal and judicial procedures, commercial contracts, land settling arrangements etc. will still be necessary. 6.0 Concluding Remarks and Proposed Agenda for Action 6.1 The economic arguments for SMEs should be more broad-based and include and emphasize the various special merits intrinsic and specific to their smallness per se. 6.2 An uniform set of definitions should be designed and used by all pertinent agencies (i.e. BBS, Ministry of Industries/ BSCIC, Planning Commission and NBR) with respect to classification of enterprises by size. In this context, a well-thougtout decision is needed to ascertain whether “SME” is the correct term to identify ‘Small’, ‘Cottage’ and ‘micro’ industries in Bangladesh. 6.3 A sufficiently large sample survy should be carried out to generate a bench mark national level data base both for accurate estimation of the SME contributions to the national economy and for formulation of comprehensive policies for the sector. 6.4 Given heavy reliance of the national economy on the SMEs for generating employment and income especially for the poor in the rural areas, development of entrepreneurship, new business creation and development of intersectoral linkages the SMEs should be declared as a ‘priority sector’ and backed by formulation of a proactive SME development policy. 6.5 Within the SME sector, the fast growing sub-sectors exhibiting greater dynamism and prospects for sustained future growth should be declared as ‘thrust sector’ and supported by adequate incentives on a priority basis. 6.6 In the proposed SME development policies, provisions should be made to develop separate and specialized institutions in three areas: (a) finance, (b) technology and (c) skill development, in addition to rationalizing the existing policies and institutions. In this context, a strategic ‘Public-private Sector’ partnership and cooperation should be carefully developed keeping in view the current emphasis on fostering industrial development through private enterprises systems.



Selected Referneces

Ahmed Momtaz Uddin: Globalisation and Competitiveness of Bangladesh’s Smallscale Industries ( SSIs): An Analysis of the Prospects and Challenges, in CPD/UPL published, Bangladesh facing the Challenges of Globalisation, IRBD, 2001 Ahmed Momtaz Uddin: Development of Small-scale Industries in Bangladesh in the New Millennium: Challenges and Opportunities, Asian Affairs, Vol. 21, No.1, Jan-March, 1999. Ahmed Momtaz Uddin Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises in Industrial Development Academic Publishers, Dhaka, 1992. Ahmed Momtaz Uddin: The Economics of Small-scale Industries Revisited, micro, Dhaka, 2003. Asian Development Bank (ADB), Bangladesh: Strategic Issues and Potential Response-Small and Medium Enterprise Development and Export Expansion, Dhaka, 2002 Asian Development Bank (ADB): High Level Workshop on Strategic Issues and Potential Response Initiatives in the Finance, Industry and Trade Sector, November, 2001, Dhaka. Jobs Opportunities and Business Support (JOBs) Programme: Growth potentials of Small and Medium Enterprises: A Review of Eight Sub-Sectors in Bangladesh, A Report prepared by Dr. Zaid Bakht, BIDS, for JOBS Sub-sector Study, 1998. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD): Globalisation and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Vol. 1, Synthesis Report, OECD, Paris 1997. Sarder Jahangir: An Assessment of Operational Conditions of Cottage, Small Medium Enterprises (CSME) in Bangladesh, Repor Repared for FBCCI, Dhaka, 2001. Small Enterprise Development Facilities (SEDF/World Bank): The SME Sector: Taking Stock of the Present Situation, mimeo, Dhaka, 2003. USAID: Bangladesh Enterprise Development Assessment Report, Vol. 1, 2001


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...SUMMARY Overall, the SME FDI is currently an extremely valuable initiative. Through appropriate and careful analysis of the data, public policy can be directed yet more efficiently to further improve competitive advantage of Canada's SMEs. In particular, the baseline survey associated with the SME FDI is an extraordinarily valuable research undertaking. It provides the potential to assess directly the extent to which financing gaps might occur in the capital markets on which SMEs rely. This is an important issue in practical terms, in terms of the role of public policy, and in terms of economic and finance theory. The SME FDI baseline survey data provides, for the first time internationally, a means of empirically testing Nobel prize-winning ideas related to information asymmetry and capital rationing. The data provides a means of providing yet better guidance for public policy with respect to addressing potential capital market imperfections that might constrain growth and economic development of SMEs. As designed, the research initiative can and will provide valuable information about these issues. In summary, the baseline survey undertaken as part of the SME FDI is a potentially invaluable resource with respect to the design, targeting, implementation, and follow-up assessment of public policy approaches to nurturing SME growth and viability. The outcomes of this research process could help Industry Canada and its partners to provide Canadian SMEs with substantial......

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Women Entrepreneurs in Smes Bangladesh Perspective

...Women Entrepreneurs in SMEs: Bangladesh Perspective Sponsored by: SME Foundation Conducted by: MIDAS November 2009 Table of Contents Acronyms List of Tables and Figures Executive Summary Chapter 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Chapter 2.0 2.1 2.1.1 2.1.2 2.1.3 2.1.4 2.1.5 2.1.6 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.5.1 2.5.2 2.6 3.0 4.0 4..1 4..2 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.4.1 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.7.1 6.7.2 7.0 7.1 Introduction Statement of the problem Significance of the study Objective of the study Theoretical perspective of the study Scope of the study Limitations of the study Study Methodology Primary Research Location of the survey Sample Size Support Service Providers Methods of Data Collection Techniques of Data Collection Techniques of Data Analysis Secondary Research Focus Group Discussion (FGD) Key Informant Meeting (KIM) and Preparation of Case Studies Planning Workshops (PW) Planning Workshop Dialogues in the 6 Divisional HQs Discussions at Planning Workshops National Dissemination Seminar (NDS) Literature Review Entrepreneurship Concept of Entrepreneurship: A theoretical discussion Entrepreneurship in Bangladesh Women Entrepreneurship in Bangladesh History of Women Entrepreneurship Development in Bangladesh Women Entrepreneurs of Bangladesh Women Entrepreneurship in Urban Areas Women Entrepreneurship in Rural Areas Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Definition of SME Theories of SME SMEs in Bangladesh Promotion of SMEs for Sustainable Development Access to......

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Sme in Bangladesh

...Introduction Nokia is the largest mobile phone company in the world, selling just over 450 million phones in 2010 – which translates to over 22% of the market (Gartner, 2011), but its long-term dominance is now being challenged more than ever (Global Information, 2011). The once seemingly infallible company that innovated to shape much of the modern mobile phone market has been caught off guard in recent years as the competitive landscape evolved and accelerated from being product driven to ecosystem led (SEC, 2011). This change, coupled with inability to quickly launch a credible response to innovative North American rivals such as Apple and Research in Motion (RIM) who have stolen the lead in high-end smart phones has caused Nokia to lose ground and market share. Low cost Asian rivals are also threatening Nokia’s grip on the mass markets (Thomson Reuters, 2011). Revenues have been declining, market share dominance waning and average sales prices tumbling (Financial Times, 2011). All of these factors have been pivotal in forcing Nokia to re-evaluate and focus its corporate strategy, vision and core values. Nokia has not been slow in recognizing the need to re-think and reformulate their strategy; based around three pillars; regaining leadership in the smart phone market, reinforcing their leadership position in mobile phones and investing in future disruptions (SEC, 2011). Execution has been somewhat lackluster (LXNews, 2011). In February 2011 Nokia formed a partnership......

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