House #14 (7th Floor), Road #32,
Gulshan 1, Dhaka-1212
- +88 02 9861219
ICCO in Bangladesh
Bangladesh is one of the world’s most densely populated countries and poverty is deep and widespread. The Rohingya influx of 2017 added an additional burden on the country’s demography and food-security.
In Bangladesh, ICCO focuses on mobilizing rural communities and engaging them in developing inclusive, sustainable and profitable income generating opportunities. This is supported by lobby and policy work to demand a more effective enabling environment of the government. A recent focus of ICCO has also been on food assistance and livelihoods recovery for the Rohingya and host community in Cox’s Bazar.
What we do
Food Security and Sustainable Consumption
ICCO focuses on income generation and innovative agricultural production systems, including market access. This position builds on one of our major strengths as we have formed numerous and diverse types of farmer/production groups and entrepreneurs through our projects in Bangladesh. ICCO continues to reach out to the extreme poor and/or marginalized groups and seeks to enhance their socio-economic integration using the “Inclusive Market System (IMS)” approach. We believe that these diverse groups have the ability to develop a viable agricultural business operation and offer a range of business services to their members. ICCO also believes that the creation of mutual beneficial trade and service linkages between market actors, service providers and producers is a crucial driver in the access to markets and the economic empowerment process.
In addition, we carry out lobby and advocacy work based on action research involving all relevant stakeholders from local to national level, related to social safety networks, access to natural resources, improved nutrition practices, change in regulatory framework that is supportive to nutrition security, as well as the enabling environment for micro-economic development and market operation.
Inclusive Business Development and Impact Investment in Agri-SMEs
In shifting from our focus on production only to income generation and agricultural production systems, ICCO actively started to engage with rural and urban based entrepreneurs and now has access to more than 800 formal member based organizations. ICCO believes that micro enterprise development can be taken up by building vocational and business skills of young people with a focus on those that have potential entrepreneurial capacities. ICCO supports such small agri-based businesses in their incubation process, and helps them to get prepared to receive bigger investments. Through its investment fund and subsidiary, Truvalu Enterprises Ltd., ICCO is able to take on part of the investment requirements of the agribusinesses itself.
Water and Sanitation
ICCO works directly with users of water and sanitation services in order to address their needs and improve their WASH condition. We use private sector driven interventions to advance sanitation, as well as work on testing and piloting new technologies in the market.
ICCO is also involved in local level lobby and advocacy work, directed towards the local government and private sector, in order to ensure better last mile delivery of water, sanitation, and hygiene products & services. To this end, ICCO is engaged in lobbying activities as a strategy to promote change.
Emergency Response & Recovery
ICCO focuses in early recovery and sustainable livelihood in the field emergency response. Our core of the emergency response is to first provide the initial relief and then followed by more long-term approaches, such as ensuring sustainable livelihood opportunities through asset transfer, capacity-building, and market-linkage. At present, we are supporting the Rohingya and host communities of Cox’s Bazar. Through different interventions and projects, ICCO support womens from both population groups in order to provide income generating opportunities so that their reliance on aid is decreased.
Inclusive Market System (IMS)
IMS aims to maximize the potential for sustainable impact while reducing market distortions by ‘leveling the playing field’ for all actors. ICCO uses IMS as the key approach to link producers to consolidators and financing institutions, as well as key markets and buyers of specific products and commodities. Based on IMS approaches, we design subsector interventions and implement them through multi actor processes. The approach is applied mostly in our agriculture, food security and/or WASH programs.
Value Chain Development (VCD)
At ICCO, we emphasize on empowering people so that they can connect with viable and sustainable value chains, generate income and produce sufficient quantities of quality food for a balanced diet. We apply programmatic approaches with a broad range of value chain actors, including NGOs, producer organizations, local small and medium enterprises, international companies and financial institutions. Programmatic cooperation around value chains by a diversity of actors results in more outreach and sustainability. ICCO improves productivity and works toward fair price and living wages for small producers. Actors working together on value chain issues are also better able to define lobby issues to their government for a better enabling environment, as they have a united and stronger voice to demand their rights.
Business Incubation and Impact Investment
By blending financial instruments, ICCO contributes to fair economic development in emerging economies. Our subsidiary (Truvalu) provides capacity and capital to small and medium enterprises and farmer cooperatives, for them to grow and develop into strong and independent enterprises in the agriculture sector.
Lobby and Advocacy
In our lobby activities, we build bridges between our beneficiaries, CSOs, governments, businesses and NGOs. We work on unequal (power) relations and give a voice to the most vulnerable and excluded groups to reduce inequalities in the society. In Bangladesh, ICCO Cooperation and its partners raise awareness and builds capacity among these groups, as well as publish researches, as means and tools in lobby work.
ICCO aims to address child undernutrition through nutrition specific as well as nutrition-sensitive interventions through a life-cycle approach to deliver the right services and messages to the right person at the right time. The governance programs incorporate a Social and Behavior Change (SBC) strategy, using multiple approaches, ranging from interpersonal communication to mass media and building strong linkage among various stakeholders in the community, government and CSOs.
Overall, Bangladesh has made laudable progress on many aspects of human development including an impressive track record of economic growth rate over the past decade. Although the poverty rate has decreased,the country is highly populous, rapidly urbanizing, and is increasing experiencing the effects of climate change. Women and minorities are marginalized and youth, representing ⅓ of total population, lack employment opportunities (youth unemployment at 11.37%) in the formal and informal sectors. Governance is generally poor, while the level of centralisation remains amongst the highest in the world. Moreover, a population of 900,000 (approx) Rohingya people has added pressure to the population and food and resources.
45% of the population (65 million people) still suffers from mild to acute food insecurity and roughly 1 in 6 people are still chronically food insecure. A further concern arises from a recent slowdown in agricultural growth: in the past five years, agriculture has only grown at half the rate of the preceding five years. A final remaining concern with food security is that, among the general population, very little improvement has occurred in the quality and diversity of diet. Cereals still occupy a preeminent place in the diet; their contribution to total energy supply has fallen very slowly—from 79.6 percent in 1995–96 to 77 percent in 2009. Multiple factors, including market forces, traditional dietary practices, poor knowledge of positive nutrition choices, and gender constraints present challenges to sustainable improvements in nutrition and food security.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Bangladesh play a vital role in the country, employing 70-80% of the country’s non-agricultural labor force and contributing 20-25% to its GDP and 40% of the manufacturing output. It is estimated that SMEs account for 90% of the private enterprises in the country at 7.2 million firms (in 2013) and 99% or 7.9 million firms if micro enterprises are included (ADB, Asia Finance Monitor 2014). Despite their significance as drivers of economic and social development, the growth of SMEs in Bangladesh are rather stunted by a number of constraints. As per a survey conducted by INSPIRED, a program funded by the government of Bangladesh and the European Union, the main constraints faced by SMEs, among others, are:
- access to finance,
- securing sales,
- securing supplies,
- access to technology.
Institutional support structures are rather weak to confront and tackle these problems and it is required to strengthen and promote bodies working towards the development of SMEs.
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