To develop an efficient ecosystem for the e-commerce industry, the government of Bangladesh established the world’s first integrated and assisted rural e-commerce platform. Called ekShop, this platform gathered all major national e-commerce players and brought them to the country’s “last mile” by integrating them into a single platform. This is creating and facilitating digital livelihood opportunities for disadvantaged groups with basic and advanced computer skills. This initiative helps achieve SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth).
Urban and rural merchants are able to connect and collaborate with effective e-commerce and logistics players to facilitate shipment and with the potential for global escalation. ekShop utilizes union-level delivery points to penetrate hard-to-access areas and government and human resources to create a decentralized supply chain. It enables sellers by offering a single point of entry to all e-commerce platforms. ekShop also leverages ESCROW, a financial arrangement to temporarily hold money for a transaction before the transaction has been finalized to ensure maximum security for an e-commerce transaction.
By democratizing access to markets and financing, ekShop boosts disadvantaged entrepreneurs by taking a previously complex and expensive service and making it free and much more convenient. ekShop's aggregated online marketplace has allowed small businesses, mom-and-pop stores and the ubiquitous mudir dokan (small grocery stores, typically offering fast-moving consumer goods, like snacks and lifestyle products) to enter the growing e-commerce sector.
The ekShop model has received much international recognition, including the 2020 WSIS (World Summit on the Information Society) champion award, 2019 APICTA (The Asia Pacific ICT Alliance Awards), United Nations facility fund competition in 2019, and BRH (Bangkok Regional Hub) catalytic fund winner in 2020. ekShop is seen as the logistic backbone of the e-commerce industry in Bangladesh.
After observing the success and impact of the ekShop initiative in Bangladesh, UNDP Turkey approached UNDP Bangladesh to create a similar platform based on the model in Turkey for Syrian refugees using the local word dukkan, which means “shop.” Dukkan is a platform for freelance workers targeting Syrian refugees that have ICT skills. Many Syrian refugees are university graduates and have ICT skills and many non-governmental organizations in Turkey organize ICT courses for refugees, thus the number of Syrian refugees in Turkey who can perform as freelancers is relatively high.
The platform's main aim is to match Syrian refugee freelancer profiles with demand from outside of Turkey, mainly Bangladesh and Arabic-speaking countries. To achieving this purpose, outreach was conducted to reach Syrians with ICT skills while UNDP Turkey and UNDP Bangladesh established relations with the private sector, the platform's candidate clients.
A media outreach campaign advertises Dukkan and its promise for the private sector in Arabic-speaking countries. As of writing, 97 freelancers and 14 clients are registered on the platform and many others await registration. Projects submitted on the platform have been delivered with high success rates.
With Dukkan, Syrian refugees in Turkey can find job opportunities from anywhere in the world. Since the platform targets mainly Arabic-speaking customers, this solution helps prevent social tension between refugees and the host community. Importantly, freelancers can adopt anytime as their working hours, hence, disadvantaged groups, such as single parents, women and individuals with a disability, can earn an income by freelancing using the platform.
The Dukkan platform is easily replicable and can be adapted to different languages and situations. Establishing relationships with the private sector in target countries is vital to the platform’s success.