Improving the dairy sector and promoting sustainable energy use in Bangladesh

This partnership supports dairy farmers to obtain access to finance to increase the productivity of their operations.

  • Oxfam has formed dairy enterprises in Bangladesh, involving over 4,000 dairy farmers, 80 per cent of whom are women.
  • Bangladesh SME Corporation Limited (BSCL) has developed the ‘i-SME platform’ to enable small businesses to access funds from financial institutions.

By bringing these two streams of work together, Oxfam and BCSL support dairy enterprises to expand their operations through access to low cost financing from banks. This supports the dairy farmers to increase their milk production and in turn increase incomes.

The initiative also supports dairy enterprises with off-grid energy solutions through the adoption of bio-digesters. DFAT bring critical co-investment, undertake high level advocacy to promote the objectives of the initiative and provide specific technical support (e.g. shared value and development expertise).  

Location of partnership

Partnership aims

  • Explore new markets where the i-SME platform can be used to help rural hard-to-reach customers access funds from banks.
  • Support dairy enterprises to expand their operations through access to low-cost financing from banks.
  • Enable dairy enterprises to capture better market access through increased volume and quality of milk production, thereby maximising income. 
  • Ensure access to clean and sustainable off-grid energy through the adoption of biodigesters. 
  • Increased income and asset ownership for women. 

Key facts





Gender equality

This initiative specifically focuses on gender equality by:

  • Promoting women’s economic empowerment by supporting women to grow their micro and small dairy businesses into self-sustaining enterprises, through access to low cost finance.
  • Reducing women’s work burden from collecting and cooking with firewood through the introduction of biodigesters to generate sustainable household energy.
  • Improving health and nutrition for women and their families.

There are 4,000 dairy farmers involved in this initiative with 80 per cent of them being women. Dairy farmers have difficulty accessing low cost finance. The partnership makes it possible for these women entrepreneurs to borrow money directly from banks to increase the size and productivity of their dairy herds, leading to increased incomes. The additional income and milk is expected to have an impact on nutrition for women and their families.

The partnership also supports entrepreneurs to invest in biodigesters to generate clean energy for household use. This replaces firewood, which women spend substantial time collecting and cooking with, and causes health problems from smoke.

Shared value

This partnership creates shared value by:

  • reconceiving product and market
  • enabling local cluster development.

By linking their platform to the dairy enterprises formed by Oxfam, BSCL is able to reach a new market segment and offer services to hard-to-reach customers. This will generate revenue for BSCL through fees from participating banks.

Banks benefit by growing their loan portfolios and associated revenue. Dairy enterprises benefit from access to financial services which provide an opportunity for business expansion. In turn, this will increase their market share and they will earn higher prices for their milk.

The initiative will also reduce electricity input costs for dairy enterprises that purchase and set up biodigesters. This will result in an environmental benefit through decreased greenhouse gas emissions.

What is shared value?

Shared value is defined as policies and practices that enhance the competitiveness of companies while improving social and environmental conditions in the regions where they operate. To qualify as shared value, there must be an identifiable economic benefit to the company as well as measurable impact on a social or environmental issue. The BPP is helping businesses partner with the Australian aid program in achieving shared value – advancing both social and economic objectives. These partnerships are primarily being created in one or more of the following ways:

  • Reconceiving products and markets
  • Redefining productivity in the value chain
  • Enabling local cluster development

Partner information

Bangladesh SME Corporation Limited (BSCL)

BSCL is a financial and technology services company operating in the alternative finance sector of Bangladesh.

The firm developed the i-SME platform which combines a large service delivery network of experienced field agents with smart automation. Through its portfolio companies and projects BSCL has already facilitated approximately AUD17.6 million in financing to over 3,000 enterprises.

Under this initiative BSCL agents will be responsible for screening dairy enterprises, executing due diligence and monitoring credit extended through partner banks.

Bangladesh SME Corporation Limited logo  

Oxfam Bangladesh

Oxfam is an international confederation of 20 organisations, working in approximately 94 countries worldwide to find solutions to poverty and injustice.

Oxfam in Bangladesh has been operating since 1971 and currently has programs in over 26 districts. It works in partnership with over 15 different local NGOs, private companies, civil society organisational networks, and universities.

Oxfam will bring its knowledge and experience of the dairy sector to the partnership. It will also support market linkage efforts and the capacity building of the Dairy Enterprises.

OXFAM International logo 

Last Updated: 26 April 2017