Launched in 2015 and implemented by BRAC, the Jibika project under the Bangladesh Partnership Initiative (BPI) was designed to promote entrepreneurship for sustainable income growth of poor and marginalized farming households around the Chevron-operated gas fields. Phase I of this project successfully modified Village Development Organizations (VDO), which later received registration from the Department of Cooperatives. BRAC and its implementing partner, Institute of Development Affairs (IDEA), have also facilitated intensive community trainings on leadership, funds management, cattle rearing and vegetable gardening and more. Between 2015 and 2019, approximately 20,000 people have benefitted from the Jibika project.
Following the successful completion of Phase I, the second phase is designed to further strengthen the governance and management of the Jibika cooperatives and help them achieve long-term sustainability by 2022. The total membership of Jibika cooperatives (VDOs) now stands at 3,998, including 922 new members, ultimately benefitting around 22,500 community members. Approximately 58% of the VDO members are women while 56% of the executive committees are led by women. In Jibika Phase II thus far, capacity development trainings have been held on fund management, business planning, leadership and accounts management. VDO members have successfully established six joint ventures. In addition, ten VDOs now have a digitized management system to facilitate their transparency, governance, and compliance.
In response to the Covid19 pandemic, a range of livelihood support items have been distributed amongst 104 VDOs, e.g., rickshaw/van, rice thresher, power sprayer, power tiller. All VDOs were also provided with handwashing booths and infrared thermometers. Moreover, behavior change communication materials, e.g., leaflets and stickers depicting handwashing illustrations and conveying awareness messages were distributed to cover approximately 3,465 households.
village groups completed registration as cooperatives
women in cooperative leadership roles
community members benefitted
In 2015, Chevron signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Under the umbrella of the government of Bangladesh’s Skills for Employment Investment Program, sponsored by ADB and administered by the Ministry of Finance, the aim of this partnership was to enable 1,400 community youths near Chevron’s operational areas in the Sylhet region to access high-quality training programs in light engineering, construction and ready-made garment sectors. In 2016, Chevron launched Uttoron, a three-year project with Swisscontact to facilitate the delivery of training and link trainees with reputable employers in the region. Phase-1 of the project closed in July 2019: awareness on skills training had been delivered to 53,000 community members, and of the nearly 1,450 graduate trainees (21 percent female), 70 percent had attained employment.
Uttoron-II was launched in August 2019, aiming to enhance the skills and employability of 2,000 community youths (80 percent from Chevron's gas field areas) over the next three years.
In line with these objectives, Uttoron conducted a Rapid Market Assessment to identify potential training institutions, training needs, and employers. Though training was suspended for eight months owing to COVID-19, the project has already organized capacity building trainings for 425 youths (28 percent female) on a number of trades, of whom 96 are now employed in different industries/factories. A key highlight of Uttoron Phase II has been the production of a safety video to promote safety awareness in industrial operations. Swisscontact has also signed an agreement with Sylhet City Corporation to facilitate the set-up of a permanent training institute in Sylhet city, aiming to provide training to 800 youths per year on electrical installation & maintenance, plumbing & pipefitting, welding, and housekeeping.
Uddokta - powering entrepreneurs - is a partnership between Chevron and International Development Enterprises (iDE) under BPI. The project seeks to amplify Chevron’s investments made in Bangladesh to improve the lives and livelihoods of rural communities through an increased focus on powering local entrepreneurs and building inclusive market systems that link smallholder producers to more rewarding opportunities.
As a result of improved access to goods and services delivered through enterprises supported by the project, Uddokta aims to trigger an increase in the incomes of over 2,700 VDO-affiliated households. It is also anticipated that project efforts will result in an increase in the annual revenues of 1,100 micro and small enterprises, and increased sales of quality inputs to smallholder farmers. Moreover, Uddokta will facilitate access to finance for participating enterprises to establish, grow and operate their businesses. In summary, over 37,000 household members will be benefitted from augmented incomes as a result of improved access to goods and services triggered through systemic market changes catalyzed by Uddokta.
Uddokta has conducted a baseline survey and a market deep dive to assess the prevailing community scenario and training needs for potential micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Thus far, it has identified 800 MSMEs and reached 650 MSMEs. In order to introduce new businesses and scale up existing ones, seed funds have been provided to 300 MSMEs and seven VDOs. The project has also facilitated linkages with different financial institutions for improved client eligibility, as a result of which 23 MSMEs have received sizeable business startup and expansion loans from banks and microfinance institutes. Uddokta has also facilitated improved market dynamics by catalyzing access to quality inputs, services, and technologies from both public and private sector partners. Service agreements have been signed with market leaders like iSocial, and ATEC Australia, among others.