Helvetas is pleased to announce the award of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Feed the Future Shamortha Plus Activity. The Shamortha Plus Activity will collaborate with the Bangladesh private sector to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19 on food-processing companies and marginalized women and youth.
The COVID-19 crisis led to severe economic disruptions in Bangladesh. The food processing sector was particularly impacted by the pandemic, with a productivity loss of 30-35%, higher production costs due to an increase in raw material and packaging material prices, and increased distribution and sales costs. On the demand side, companies also experienced a drastic decline by 65-70%. The purchasing power of consumers diminished, and the demand for supplementary processed food decreased.
Helvetas is co-leading the Shamortha Plus initiative with two private sector partners: PRAN and Jabed. These are two of the largest and most successful companies in Bangladesh's food processing sector, but both companies have consistently struggled with a lack of access to a skilled workforce. The program will address this and tackle high youth unemployment by offering demand-driven skills trainings – both in factories and through e-learning – to 6,000 new job seekers, focusing on the inclusion of marginalized groups, returning migrant workers, and women. The program will also provide upskilling programs for 2,500 current PRAN and Jabed employees.
Additional program activities will increase the business resilience of PRAN and Jabed through marketing strategies, work to increase demand for processed food, support companies’ integration of COVID-19 protection measures, and advocate to the government for policy shifts in the food processing sector.
This is a three-year program that runs from December 2022 through November 2025. The Shamortha Plus Activity is made possible by the generous support of the American people through USAID, as well as through co-investments from PRAN, Jabed and Helvetas.
For more information:
Contact Becky Neely, Helvetas USA International Communications Manager, at Becky.Neely@helvetas.org.