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The Financial Express

Shining the digital path for SMEs


Shining the digital path for SMEs

Small and medium businesses contribute more to the global economy than what is visible on the surface. They play a vital role everywhere and are estimated by Facebook/OECD/World Bank (2020), The Future of Business survey, to have employed 60 to 70 per cent of workers in most countries before the coronavirus pandemic took place. One could go as far as to say that they are a crucial part of forming the backbone of the country.

In Bangladesh, it is no different. According to Light Castle Partner[, SMEs in Bangladesh contribute 25 per cent to our GDP, and while that number is low, compared to our peer economies such as Vietnam (40 per cent), Sri Lanka (52 per cent) and Cambodia (58 per cent), it is still growing every year.

The coronavirus pandemic had a large impact on the SMEs across the world. While it is true that SMEs are much more flexible to changes and can adapt to situations quicker, they are also heavily reliant on cash flows and current revenues. In other words, when lockdowns happen, SMEs suffer the most. Many of them had no business and they did not know how long the lockdowns would last.

This was the case for SMEs in Bangladesh as well.  In fact, according to a survey done by the Future of Business, over 50 per cent of SMEs had closed down between January and May 2020. While the nationwide lockdown in Bangladesh has since been lifted, the pandemic has not left us yet. We are still in rough waters and for SMEs it is getting even more difficult to navigate. It is no secret that the Covid-19 pandemic has shifted the traditional ways of doing business. We were pushed into accepting digital forms of communication and work as a part of the new normal. Digital platforms have become a new regular business channel.

Having moved online, a question that arises about how efficiently SMEs are actually operating on these digital platforms? The digital market is quite vast. Without proper guidance and technical knowledge it can be a daunting task for entrepreneurs and business operatives to navigate in such a humongous space.

In the same report by Light Castle Partners, it states that 42 per cent of enterprises had to cut back their marketing expenditure to zero due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the rest brought it down to less than 10 per cent of their total expenditure.

And so, with limited marketing budgets, it is even more important that SMEs go about their marketing efforts with great precision and make their campaigns as efficient as possible.

Efficiency of marketing campaigns can be best achieved and measured using digital channels, in particular social media platforms. And there are a number of ways to make sure that  SMEs get proper guidance when it comes to promoting their goods and services. One of them is to take any piece of advice they can get and learn continuously. Facebook Authorised Sales partner, Httpool's experts are trained and equipped with the latest knowledge on how to make the most of advertising on Facebook.

SMEs are crucial for our economy. Small and medium sized businesses can only thrive in the digital environment if they get the right insights, expert advice and guidance on how to put these digital media to the best use. And so, the success of any SME in the new post-Covid reality is greatly dependent on the entrepreneur's ability to understand and ride the opportunities that digital advertising brings to their businesses. Being a part of the wider Httpool family, I am honoured to be helping SMBs shed light on their new digital paths in Bangladesh.

 

Kazi Monirul is Forbes Technology Council Member and Country Director

of Httpool, Bangladesh

[email protected]

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