Business Groups (BGs)
A Business Group (BG) is a platform for Suchana beneficiaries and other producers that allows members to take advantage of the benefits of collective action. Members can bundle products for sale, buy inputs in bulk, and arrange for services as a group.
BGs actively engage with other actors in the supply chain (both public and private), such as Local Business Advisors (LBAs), input retailers, buyers, traders, and other service providers. BGs help beneficiary households (BHHs) to generate a sustainable income so that they can afford a nutritious diet. BGs comprise 25 to 30 members from Suchana IGA BHHs from within a village or cluster of villages. BGs also select a BG leader who plans the group’s inputs, production and sales, facilitates the formation process, and acts as the group’s point of contact with market actors and other groups. BGs pair up with Local Business Advisors (LBA) who will guide 4 to 6 BGs.
Ratna Rani lives in Kulaura, Moulvibazar with her 12-year-old son and her husband. She enrolled as a BG member under Laxmipur-Kakicher bamboo craft BG with other 27 members.
Prior to the Suchana intervention, Ratna Rani did not know much about sales planning or business linkages. Ratna did not attend school and instead helped her father with his work. Ratna has learned bamboo crafts and now makes bamboo products like baskets and umbrellas for a living.
“The bamboo production reaches its peak during the monsoon season. After I was introduced to the Suchana program, my production increased and now I can sell BDT 7,000 to BDT 8,000 worth of bamboo products every month in the nearby markets which is 30% higher than earlier,” said Ratna.
BGs support and enable group members to coordinate decision-making processes amongst the members in areas such as improved access to quality inputs, production technologies, services, and output markets. They also promote women’s empowerment as the members, BG leaders and LBAs are predominantly women who benefit from opportunities to earn income and build skills and knowledge in both production practices and running a microenterprise.
BGs include Suchana’s IGA groups, Commercial Producer Groups (CPG), and HFP groups. Project activities to facilitate BG formation and growth include:
“After I was introduced to the Suchana program, my production increased, and now I can sell BDT 7,000 to BDT 8,000 worth of bamboo products every month in the nearby markets.”
Ratna Rani, 28, BG member
Ratna is satisfied with the services from Suchana BG. She and her group members exchange knowledge on improved production practices. The group has access to effective services from market actors and the collective input purchase and output sale make sure the BG members can reap the optimum benefits.
“I can now receive advice and guidance from the LBA and other market actors on bamboo craft production. Through the different training and meetings, I have gained knowledge about how homestead food production and hygiene practices can improve the overall nutrition and health of a family,” said Ratna.
Ratna has great appreciation for programmes like Suchana. She believes that the programme has helped improve her economic stability. “I did not have the opportunity to go to school but now I am capable of sending my son to school. He is studying in the fifth grade. This makes me very happy,” said Ratna
A survey conducted in 2019 for Suchana’s semiannual report found that 94% of beneficiaries were satisfied with the services they received. Approximately 73% of beneficiaries engaged in off-farm IGAs such as tailoring, bamboo crafts, shitolpati crafts, and handlooms found their business to be profitable.
Engagement in BGs has provided members with:
Beneficiaries also reported that having now established a relationship, they can call local government officials for assistance and receive better services when they visit government offices.
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