Build Back Better Enhancing the recovery and resilience of small and micro-businesses in Bangladesh

How does UNCDF in Bangladesh support entrepreneurs?

Women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh face many barriers that impact the digital transformation of their businesses. These include low financial and digital literacy rates, social norms that impact mobile phone ownership and family support, and low confidence.

Identifying the value proposition and support mechanisms for digitalization and providing capacity-building can accelerate the digital journey of women e-commerce entrepreneurs and help them overcome these restrictive social norms.

UNCDF, in partnership with Visa, ShopUp, a leading full-stack business-to-business platform, and ekShop, an e-commerce aggregator platform, has implemented UNCDF’s ‘Build Back Better—Enhancing Recovery and Resilience of Small and Micro-Businesses (SMB)’ project in Bangladesh. The project helped to build the digital and financial capabilities of 200,000 small and micro-businesses through e-learning modules across multiple channels.

What did we learn?

Report: The digital transformation of small and micro-businesses in Bangladesh

This report provides an analysis of the second phase of the project, which entailed the development and provision of more advanced e-learning modules on the topics of financial negotiations, digital marketing, product pricing, cash flow management, loan management and e-commerce. The content and multi-channel approach are aligned with global best practices and the financial literacy guidelines established by the Financial Inclusion Department of Bangladesh Bank in 2021. A mix of these channels is key to promote, deliver and evaluate the digital financial literacy modules and should be customized to the target group. In-person channels provide the opportunity to go into more depth with the content, particularly for those with lower financial or digital financial literacy levels or those on the wrong side of the digital divide, while digital channels provide the opportunity to reach scale and offer more flexible models for course completion.

The partners exceeded the project milestones, reaching more than 200,000 SMBs through a range of delivery channels, including in-person training, SMS, social media, e-learning platforms, landing pages of the e-commerce platforms and WhatsApp groups. The partners also achieved additional success such as partnering with new organizations to reach the target group and more rural areas, leveraging the e-learning content for other projects, and adapting and tailoring the content to entrepreneurs in South Sudan.

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Report: Digital financial literacy via e-commerce: Implications for Bangladesh, especially for women in business

This paper explores and evaluates the best ways to reach the less digitally and financially literate segments of the community, especially women, to ensure that ultimately no one is left behind in the digital era. It starts with global and national contexts on digital financial literacy, proceeds with the approach and methodology project partners have undertaken followed by results and closing with recommendations for stakeholders aiming to implement similar digital financial literacy interventions elsewhere.

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Read entrepreneurs' stories

A small business flying on "digital wings"

Anjumanara Sathi is married with two children and lives in Dhaka. She started her online business in 2016 with just US$60 borrowed from her husband. Today, she is the owner of two Facebook-based online stores, with an established brand and stock worth around $150,000.

How going digital helped a small business to build back better after the pandemic

Shamim Ara Aziz lives with her husband and their two sons in Dhaka. She is a creative designer who has built up her own clothing line, especially focusing on block-printed womenswear. Today, she is the owner of Shapno Chhoa Lifestyle, with a boutique shop, a tailoring shop and a factory in Badda, Dhaka. A combination of customer sales, online sales and supplies to superstores and other brands currently generates a monthly average income of $1,500.

A self-motivated small business owner with big dreams

Didar Ahmad is a 22-year-old single man who lives with his mother and a brother in Moulvibazar, a northern district of Bangladesh. He was still a teenager when he became responsible for supporting his family. He hoped to set up in business, and from the start he was passionate about digital services, but opportunities were initially very hard to find.


The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) is the United Nations’ flagship catalytic financing entity for the world’s 46 Least Developed Countries (LDCs). With its unique capital mandate and focus on the LDCs, UNCDF works to invest and catalyse capital to support these countries in achieving the sustainable growth and inclusiveness envisioned by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Doha Programme of Action for the least developed countries, 2022–2031.

A hybrid development finance institution and development agency, UNCDF uses a combination of capital instruments (deployment, financial and business advisory and catalysation) and development instruments (technical assistance, capacity development, policy advice, advocacy, thought leadership, and market analysis and scoping) which are applied across five priority areas (inclusive digital economies, local transformative finance, women’s economic empowerment, climate, energy and biodiversity finance, and sustainable food systems finance).

About Visa Inc.

Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) is the world’s leader in digital payments. Our mission is to connect the world through the most innovative, reliable and secure payment network – enabling individuals, businesses and economies to thrive. Our advanced global processing network, VisaNet, provides secure and reliable payments around the world, and is capable of handling more than 65,000 transaction messages a second. The company’s relentless focus on innovation is a catalyst for the rapid growth of digital commerce on any device for everyone, everywhere. As the world moves from analog to digital, Visa is applying our brand, products, people, network and scale to reshape the future of commerce. For more information, visit About Visa, visa.com/blog and @Visa.