The overall objective of the programme is “reduced poverty in Bangladesh by supporting the development of SMEs in the country”. INSPIRED is the acronym for Integrated Support to Poverty and Inequality Reduction through Enterprise Development, the name of a programme funded by the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh and the European Union. Its objective is to develop SMEs in Bangladesh – SMEs are Small And Medium Sized Enterprises – the driving force behind modern economies. It is managed by the SME Cell of the Ministry of Industries. The SME Foundation, Bangladesh Bank, Bangladesh Bank Training Academy (BBTA) and Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management (BIBM) are other main beneficiaries.

The project purpose is “enhanced competitiveness and sustainable pro-poor growth of SMEs in selected sub-sectors of the economy of Bangladesh.

The expected results of the Strategic Planning and Capacity Building element of the Programme are to be:

Staff of the contracting authority trained in all aspects of EC procurement and especially in grant scheme management;

Established systems within the Ministry of Industries SME Cell (Contracting Authority) for the financial and management control of the INSPIRED Programme incorporating an effective monitoring, reporting and financial reporting/control system;

Effective support to the EU Delegation with all aspects of payments relating to the INSPIRED Programme; and

Successful implementation of the INSPIRED Programme.

The following results are expected to be achieved by a third element of INSPIRED: Support to the Bangladeshi Bank Training Institutions:

A strengthened national capacity to develop and deliver effective and self-sustaining training programmes on SME financing (innovative products and “product bundles”; risk adjusted pricing; modern credit scoring systems; credit information systems; risk limit system; regulatory simplification of collateral requirements; etc.);

Improved awareness of Bangladeshi financial sector policy makers and regulators of the special needs of SME financing and how best to serve these needs.

The Programme aims are to:

1. Deliver a multi-sectoral and inter-ministerial national strategy and action plan for SME development which addresses all aspects of SME support including improving the business environment in line with accepted international best practice;

2. Develop a strengthened national capacity to plan and implement SME development;

3. Establish effective SME networking mechanisms aimed at sharing best practice;

4. Provide a SME Competitiveness Grant Scheme of €6.5m to Business Intermediary Organisations such as Chambers Of Commerce and Industry or cluster associations to work with groups of SMEs to improve their competitiveness in the following sectors: agro-processing, natural fibres, leather, plastics, light engineering, electronics, furniture and textiles;

5. Support clusters by using value chain development initiatives that seek to increase SME competitiveness in agreed sectors and provide capacity building to business intermediary organisations (BIOs) in lobbying, advocacy, networking, public-private sector dialogue and the provision of business development services (BDS) to their members; and

6. Support Bangladesh Bank training institutions for the benefit of the entire banking industry by providing training courses for bank staff on providing appropriate banking services to SMEs.