Improving Livelihoods and Boosting the Local Economy in Cox’s Bazar

Cox’s Bazar is one of the poorest regions in Bangladesh. The influx of Rohingya refugees in 2017 has disrupted the local economy in the district affecting the host communities’ food security, income, market access and employment opportunities. That is why Helvetas supports the local host community to improve their actual livelihoods situation and to boost the local economy.

  • Project Name
    Cox’s Bazar – GIZ Livelihoods intervention 2020-2023 / Ramu
  • Project Phase
    2020 to 2023
  • Funding
    This project is funded by the Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
  • Thematic focus
    Education and Vocational Skills
    Private Sector Development

The people living in the Cox’s Bazar sub-districts Ukhiya, Teknaf and Ramu are the main hosts for the big number of Rohingya refugees which fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh in 2017. Following the influx, the host community was affected by an increased competition in the daily labour market, leading to lower incomes. Moreover, prices for daily commodities increased in the region. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), entrepreneurs and local workforce cannot advance because of low investment rates, inadequate skills and a lack of access to the market. Consequently, many poor and disadvantaged groups are adopting negative coping strategies to secure their livelihood, e.g. child marriage or poorly paid daily labour. COVID-19 has made this humanitarian crisis even more complex and hits disadvantaged people, such as daily labours and women headed households, hardest.

With this project, Helvetas supports the vulnerable host community in the Ramu sub-district to improve and/or recover their actual livelihoods situation offering four components:

· Apprenticeships:

The project provides 90 young people the opportunity to participate in 9-month long apprenticeship in either Tailoring and Dress Making, Motorcycle repairing, Wood working or metalwork. The opportunity of apprenticeships makes the job seekers skilled as per market demand, links them with employers and increases their chances for long-term employment and stable income. A number of the apprentices will continue in the companies, while others will be supported through career counselling and provided with recognized certification for future opportunities.

· Small and medium sized business start-up support:

The project supports 30 SMEs to improve their business through development of business management and skills development of the SME owner. The project will support to SMEs to gain access finance (microfinance, banks, etc) and to develop business plans. Through skills development activities, SMEs will have access to skilled workforce, increase their productivity and ultimately create new jobs. It will also make the micro-enterprises eligible to receive microfinance.

Welding Apprentices in the Metal Shop smiling | © Melanie Pietschmann/Helvetas Bangladesh
Azim, Munna and Nejam have all completed their 9-months theoretical & on-the-job apprenticeship in a metalshop. They all got a job in metalwork and welding afterwards. © Melanie Pietschmann/Helvetas Bangladesh
Tailoring SME shop owner offering apprenticeships supported by the project | © Helvetas Bangladesh
Owner of tailoring shop who was supported by the project has grown his business and now offers three apprenticeships © Helvetas Bangladesh
Woman standing in her shop smiling | © Melanie Pietschmann/Helvetas Bangladesh
The project supported 800 micro-entrepreneurs such as this woman who is proud to have expanded her shop and gains more income now. © Melanie Pietschmann/Helvetas Bangladesh
Woman Entrepreneur selling clothes | © Helvetas Bangladesh
During a Women Entrepreneur's Fair, the project supported particularly women to sell her products and tap into the local market. © Helvetas Bangladesh
Petty Trade Training for Entrepreneurs | © Helvetas Bangladesh
Participants of one of the entrepreneurship trainings in Ramu © Helvetas Bangladesh
Apprentice of Metal Work | © Helvetas Bangladesh
Apprentice working in metal work shop © Helvetas Bangladesh
Apprentices of Metal Work | © Helvetas Bangladesh
Apprentices who had  learning welding and repair of different objects © Helvetas Bangladesh
Apprentice Shakera Begum with her children at home | © Helvetas Bangladesh
Shakera Begum barely had any income before, struggling to buy food for her two children... © Helvetas Bangladesh
Apprentice Shakera Begum in Joinery | © Melanie Pietschmann/Helvetas Bangladesh through the project, she started an apprenticeship in a joinery, has a regular income and has high chances to stay with her employer once the apprenticeship is finished © Melanie Pietschmann/Helvetas Bangladesh

· Entrepreneurship development for micro business:

Through technical training on business management and financial literacy as well as grant support and creation of ongoing mentoring structures, the project supports 800 marginalized small-scale entrepreneurs to start, recover or expand their business (e.g. Fashion designing, Livestock, Food Processing, Handicrafts and Petty trade).

· Cash for Work activities:

Infrastructure development, like road construction or repair, not only provides an alternative income source for the extreme poor, but also contributes to improve the access to markets for the population living in remote and disaster-prone areas. Through this project 900 ultra-poor beneficiaries got alternative income opportunities.

The overall approach of the project is geared towards sustainability by developing the capacities of beneficiaries and support systems, such as service providers and government agencies. By supporting the host community, the project contributes to enhance social cohesion amongst different population groups.

The project is funded by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)/Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

© Helvetas / Narendra Shrestha

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