Press Release

UNCDF and Visa launch digital and financial literacy project to empower over 5,000 small and micro-businesses

  • May 24, 2021

  • Dhaka, Bangladesh

Through a dynamic range of e-learning modules and partnering directly with e-commerce platforms, this initiative will support entrepreneurs to fully participate in the digital economy and get the maximum out of their businesses’ digital transformation.

- Maria Perdomo, Regional Manager for Asia, Inclusive Digital Economies, ‎UNCDF

The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and Visa have partnered to launch a new digital and financial literacy project in Bangladesh. The ‘Build Back Better – Enhancing Recovery and Resilience of Small and Micro-Businesses (SMBs)’ project will empower entrepreneurs in Bangladesh with the financial and digital literacy skills they need to confidently adopt and leverage new digital services to improve their competitiveness and performance.

Over 60 percent of people in Bangladesh do not have ‘Internet awareness’ with 41 percent unaware of mobile money or how it can be used.* These people are at risk of being left behind in the digital age, particularly women who already are less likely (58 percent) to have a mobile phone and access internet than men (87 percent).** With little attention paid to gender-specific barriers, women entrepreneurs have difficulties in accessing the support and resources needed to establish and develop their business.*** That is why it is critical to support the population with context and gender specific knowledge and tools so they can access and use digital and non-digital services to lead healthy and productive lives, grow their businesses, and build resilience.

The pandemic has only emphasized the urgency of this work and has made one thing clear: those who are able to leverage digital tools are likely to be more resilient and persevere through this and similar crises in the future.

This new project will build on the tremendous progress made to date with existing e-learning initiatives. It will work with partners, such as Aspire to Innovate (A2i), eKShop and ShopUp to develop e-learning modules, including audio-visual and app-based tools. These modules will help build the capacity of entrepreneurs to use digital tools to enhance their businesses. They will be made available on partner platforms as topic based online lessons so any small business on the platform can have direct access to these tools.

This programme is part of Visa’s ongoing work to support financial inclusion across multiple countries. Last year, the company expanded its worldwide commitment to financial inclusion and pledged to bring 50 million small and micro businesses (SMBs) into the digital economy.

Soumya Basu, Country Manager, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan, Visa said, “Visa is deeply committed to the advancement and inclusive economic development of small and micro businesses in Bangladesh. In line with our company’s mission to help individuals, businesses and economies thrive, we recognize the need to drive real impact and empower micro and small businesses with digital solutions and literacy. Small and medium entrepreneurs in Bangladesh have shown tremendous resilience in this pandemic by embracing digitization and Visa is glad to partner with the UNCDF for this program to help them further leverage technology to enhance their business potential.”

The core objective of these modules is to help micro and small entrepreneurs, particularly women, gain the soft and hard skills to meaningfully engage in the digital space. The learning modules will cater to broader aspects of the digital and financial ecosystem, covering topics on why and how to onboard a business on to digital platforms and the benefits of engaging in cashless transactions.

“The vision of UNCDF is to promote inclusive digital economies that leave no one behind and we are very excited Visa is supporting us in realizing this vision in Bangladesh. This project tackles a critical component of an inclusive digital economy by empowering entrepreneurs, in particular women and youth, with the relevant knowledge, skills and attitudes they need to access and use digital services. Through a dynamic range of e-learning modules and partnering directly with e-commerce platforms, this initiative will support entrepreneurs to fully participate in the digital economy and get the maximum out of their businesses’ digital transformation. This will serve as an important building block as Bangladesh continues its journey towards an inclusive digital economy,” said Maria Perdomo, Regional Manager for Asia, Inclusive Digital Economies, ‎UNCDF.

In the initial roll-out of the e-learning modules, this project will help 5,000 micro and small businesses acquire the necessary digital and financial capabilities to access and use the tools they need to grow their business in the digital age.


* Barriers to Digital Services Adoption in Bangladesh
** Barriers to Digital Services Adoption in Bangladesh
*** UNESCAP (2013). Enabling Entrepreneurship for Women’s Economic Empowerment in Asia and the Pacific.



The UN Capital Development Fund makes public and private finance work for the poor in the world’s 46 least developed countries (LDCs).

UNCDF offers “last mile” finance models that unlock public and private resources, especially at the domestic level, to reduce poverty and support local economic development.

UNCDF’s financing models work through three channels: (1) inclusive digital economies, which connects individuals, households, and small businesses with financial eco-systems that catalyze participation in the local economy, and provide tools to climb out of poverty and manage financial lives; (2) local development finance, which capacitates localities through fiscal decentralization, innovative municipal finance, and structured project finance to drive local economic expansion and sustainable development; and (3) investment finance, which provides catalytic financial structuring, de-risking, and capital deployment to drive SDG impact and domestic resource mobilization.

About Visa Inc.

Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) is the world’s leader in digital payments. Our mission is to connect the world through the most innovative, reliable and secure payment network – enabling individuals, businesses and economies to thrive. Our advanced global processing network, VisaNet, provides secure and reliable payments around the world, and is capable of handling more than 65,000 transaction messages a second. The company’s relentless focus on innovation is a catalyst for the rapid growth of digital commerce on any device for everyone, everywhere. As the world moves from analog to digital, Visa is applying our brand, products, people, network and scale to reshape the future of commerce. For more information, visit  About Visa, and  @Visa.