|Product / Service||UCASH|
|Category||B04. Business Citizenship / Corporate Responsibility & Environmental|
|Entrant||GREY BANGLADESH Dhaka, BANGLADESH|
|Idea Creation||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|
One of Bangladesh’s largest banks, United Commercial Bank (UCB) and local retail giant Shwapno partnered to provide Bangladesh’s farmers financial inclusion. Most of Bangladesh’s population live in rural areas without bank accounts. A major challenge facing this farming community is overproducing food, which is either wasted or sold to middlemen at low prices. Even though the market is not lucrative, UCB and Shwapno transformed lives of local farmers by adding financial benefits. This got huge organic PR coverage as the idea has potential to change banking experience for rural farmers resulting in positive impact in the macro economy as well.
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.
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. So, the intent was to keep the implementation completely real. Hence, it was decided to introduce the solution amidst the farmers in real locations and see their responses. The expectation was to get spontaneous response from the farmers as it’s meant to transform their lives in the coming days. If the lives of few hundred farmers can change in the initial phase of implementation, imagine how big the news can be looking at the potential of it in changing the lives of 36 million unbanked farmers.
The implementation was recorded and uploaded on the social media pages of UCB and Shwapno. The expectation was to get traction on social media which will also get the attention of media.
The idea was quickly picked up by media. In the first few weeks, the initiative generated 50+ media impressions, garnering coverage worth of 1.5 million dollars with zero spending. It also generated highly positive conversations on social media about the potential of this concept to reduce poverty. Though the project was initially launched in 5 centers in one village, 115 more villages are showing interest and requesting UCB and Shwapno to start AgroBanking at their villages as well. So far the project has been implemented in 5 villages, with approximately 3,900 new bank accounts, and will soon be implemented in 9 more.