|Product / Service||UCASH|
|Category||B03. Payment Solutions|
|Entrant||GREY BANGLADESH Dhaka, BANGLADESH|
|Idea Creation||GREY BANGLADESH Dhaka, BANGLADESH|
|Media Placement||GREY BANGLADESH Dhaka, BANGLADESH|
|PR||GREY BANGLADESH Dhaka, BANGLADESH|
|Production||FILMY FEATURES Dhaka, BANGLADESH|
|Syed Gousul Alam||Grey Advertising Bangladesh Limited||Chief Creative Officer|
|Abu Sayed Mohammad Nurur Rahman||Grey Advertising Bangladesh Limited||Group Creative Director|
|Mohammad Akrum Hossain||Grey Advertising Bangladesh Limited||Senior Creative Director|
|Shariful Islam||Grey Advertising Bangladesh Limited||Associate Creative Director|
|Md. Tauhidul Azam||Grey Advertising Bangladesh Limited||Associate Creative Director|
|Nurul Islam Bhuiyan||Grey Advertising Bangladesh Limited||Creative Supervisor Art|
|Waleed K. Rajamiya||Grey Advertising Bangladesh Limited||Senior Copywriter|
|Md. Rafiqul Islam||Grey Advertising Bangladesh Limited||Senior Copywriter|
|Bitop Das Gupta||Grey Advertising Bangladesh Limited||Planning Director|
|Md. Fahim Khan||Grey Advertising Bangladesh Limited||Senior Manager Strategic Planning|
|Syed Mohammad Tariq||Grey Advertising Bangladesh Limited||Executive Director|
|Md. Abdullah Al Kafi||Grey Advertising Bangladesh Limited||AVP, Media, PR & Digital|
|Jihad Bin Tahzeeb||Grey Advertising Bangladesh Limited||Group Account Manager|
|Nuhash Anjum Khan||Grey Advertising Bangladesh Limited||Senior Account Executive|
|Manami Sunjia Hossain||Grey Advertising Bangladesh Limited||Project Co-ordinator|
The paradox about Bangladesh is that it has become one of the fastest growing economies in the world with half of its adults remaining financially excluded. Lack of sufficient fund, high cost of financial transaction and lack of banks’ dedication to offer diversified services are seen to be the major roadblocks for greater financial inclusion. Hence, they remain as the futile long-tail for the banks. In Bangladesh, agriculture is the largest employment sector and most of the unbanked population are farmers by profession, living in the rural areas. So, the 36 million farmers are the financial outcasts who are living off the land, and without the ability to access credit, save, and secure their future. United Commercial Bank (UCB), one of the biggest banks in Bangladesh, decided to bring a change in their outlook about the financially excluded ones and make the banking facilities approachable and accessible for them.
The unbanked farmers don’t have enough cash to go to banks, but they grow fresh produce which are often yielded more than needed. However, the excess produce is more when it comes to individual families but insignificant to sell in the wholesale market. Therefore, those are generally sold at unfairly low prices where the middlemen get benefited the most. So, we thought of solving both the issues i.e. lack of funds for the farmers and getting unfair prices for the excess produce, through one idea – AgroBanking. AgroBanking is the world’s first gumption to transform fresh fruits and vegetables into bank accounts. It allows farmers to open micro savings accounts in exchange for their produce. The initiative is designed to enable farmers to build credit histories, amass savings and eventually become eligible for other benefits like loans.
The intent was to transform the lives of the 36 million unbanked farmers. When asked, they said banks are far away from their residences and they don’t have enough cash to avail banking services. However, what they have as surplus is the fresh produce. As they don’t have favorable solutions available, these excess produce either get wasted or sold to middlemen at low prices where the middlemen get benefited, not the farmers. So, the strategy was to develop an eco-system through which the farmers’ problem of not having enough cash will be solved and they will also receive fair price for their excess produce. AgroBanking is that two-party platform where the currency to deposit into bank accounts is not hard cash, rather it’s the fresh produce. To convert the fresh produce into money, Shwapno, the largest retail chain was collaborated with, who already sources fresh produce from the marginal growers.
UCB doesn’t have full-branches in rural. But they have UCash (mobile financial service brand) agent points and UCB Agent Banking outlets in some of the villages. So, the idea was to set up co-branded points of UCB and Shwapno, at the UCash points or UCB Agent Banking points where available and in mobile vans where none of these are available. In that point, the fresh produce were collected by UCB and the equivalent amount of money was deposited into the farmer’s account. The farmer would get an SMS-notification and can keep record in the deposit book. One could also withdraw from account at that point. The price would be fixed every morning based on the rate in the wholesale market. Everyday Shwapno’s van would take the fresh produce to the nearest Shwapno outlet/s. A few weeks prior to the launch, megaphone announcements and posters were pasted in the implementing areas.
AgroBanking is the first-of-its-kind solution that really solves the farmers’ problem of accessing banking services and getting fair price for their excess produce. Hence it created massive excitement among the farmers and general people of Bangladesh. Since its launch, 3,900 new accounts were opened and 58 tons of fresh produce were collected. Positive conversation has started happening on social media about the potential of this concept to reduce poverty. The initiative generated 50+ media impressions, garnering coverage worth of 1.5 million dollars with zero spending till date. Though the project was initially launched in one village, 115 more villages are showing interest and requesting UCB and Shwapno to start AgroBanking at their villages as well.