SDF To Develop E-Commerce Platform And Support Start-Ups In The South Asian Region
The SDF has already achieved and disbursed US$ 47mn for 12 cross-border projects.
By Tshering | Business Bhutan
The SAARC Development Fund (SDF), the cross-border project umbrella financing institution for South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member states is in the process of developing an e-commerce platform for enabling the seamless trade of goods and services across SAARC member states.
It will also fund start-ups, which will give a fillip to budding entrepreneurs in the region. The SDF has committed to promoting regional integration and economic connectivity through Cross Border Regional Project Funding and collaborations.
The SDF’s Partnership Conclave in New Delhi on July 2 and 3 deliberated on a number of issues concerning trade in the region. The delegates from eight countries raised issues like speedier visa grants by the member states, currency and payment facilitation, trade facilitation at the borders, financial connectivity and reviving the SAFTA into a dynamic trade zone.
Sectors in which the SAARC Development Fund (SDF) will tap into
The CEO of SDF, Dr Sunil Motiwal said that a proposal to develop a cross border e-commerce platform along with a SAARC money card for the common people across the region is in the stage of finalisation.
The CEO also added that the start-up program would include entrepreneurs who are in the renewal energy, agriculture and health sectors.
He also included microenterprises, especially in the micro small and medium enterprise (MSME) segments. He also confirmed that the SDF is currently considering bankable projects in the areas of infrastructure, economic and MSME segments of the markets in the SAARC region.
SDF Garnering help from various multilateral organisations and financial institutions
A business meeting with multilateral organisations and financial institutions was held to rope them in to enhance the credit portfolio of the SDF.
The SDF has already achieved and disbursed US$ 47mn for 12 cross-border projects and granted in principal, approvals to two energy cross-border projects with a commitment of US$ 30mn.
Established in 2010 by the heads of eight SAARC member states, the SDF has so far completed the financial closure of US$ 73.75mn of which US$ 47mn has already been disbursed.
The CEO also said that the entrepreneurs can come up with a proposal which will be funded by the SD. The capital base should be US$ 500mn and the common e-commerce platform has a great potential for enhancing the intra-SAARC trade and services, he added.
Tapping into the potential of the youthful workforce of the SAARC region
“The region has the age profile of 15-24 years, a perfect fit for online business. Besides, it has a huge pool of skilled manpower, low cost workforce and abundant natural resources,” the SDF CEO said.
Currently, only 4% of the total trade of the SAARC member states is taking place within the region. This can be increased significantly by creating initiatives like e-commerce and booming businesses across the world. Stakeholders can work on building common facilities for logistics, warehousing and transportation.
This article first appeared in Business Bhutan and has been edited for the Bhutan Times.