The landscape of social development in Bangladesh is evolving, and so are the strategies to address its challenges. In a groundbreaking move, the United Nations Population Fund(UNFPA) has ventured into a partnership with private companies to amplify its mission in the country.
Kristine Blokhus, the Representative of UNFPA Bangladesh, expressed this transformative approach: "It's not Business-As-Usual for UNFPA to engage and partner with private companies. But Bangladesh has now a decade-long high economic growth and getting towards middle-income country. It’s time that we should start to address the current social challenges in a different way, by engaging the private sector. We are excited to start the partnership with private companies to support our mission in Bangladesh - ensuring zero preventable maternal death, access to Sexual and Productive health and stop gender-based violence.”
The momentous occasion, titled 'Empowering Futures: Private Sector Partnership for Sexual and Reproductive Health,' unfolded at Hotel Lakeshore on 12th November 2023. The partnership agreement was signed between UNFPA Bangladesh and ToguMogu Pvt. Ltd., aligning their efforts to drive progress in sexual and reproductive health.
UNFPA Bangladesh has played a pivotal role as a partner to the Bangladesh Government, delivering essential sexual and reproductive health services and working ardently to reduce maternal mortality. Its collaboration extends to the Ready-Made Garment (RMG) industry, where they ensure sexual and reproductive health training for workers, collaborating with the government, BGMEA, and RMG factories.
On the other side of the partnership, ToguMogu Pvt. Ltd. is a startup dedicated to family health and well-being. Through its ToguMogu Parenting App, it has created a vibrant community of over 200 thousand parents, providing them with valuable information on pregnancy, nutrition, and children's health. The app employs data to personalize information and connect families with necessary services, optimizing both time and costs.
The collaboration between UNFPA Bangladesh and ToguMogu started in 2022, focusing on RMG factories. Their joint efforts garnered recognition, winning the 'Stitch of RMG' award funded by H&M Foundation and UNFPA's Global Innovation Award. Encouraged by the success, the new agreement concentrates on continuing their impactful interventions in RMG factories, with a special emphasis on female workers.
Under this agreement, ToguMogu will leverage ICT-based solutions, including the ToguMogu Parenting App, to enhance the efficiency of SRHR programs. Dr. Nazmul Arefin, CEO & Co-founder of ToguMogu, stated, "Through this partnership, we will love to take our solution beyond RMG Factories and to rural areas of Bangladesh.”
UNFPA Bangladesh unveiled a pioneering pilot project targeting local pharmacies to reduce harmful practices and encourage them to provide SRHR services. The successful pilot led to a shift from an intervention approach to a business model, incorporating female pharmacists as key partners and entrepreneurs.
At the signing ceremony, UNFPA Bangladesh extended partnerships with three other organizations – Zaynax Health, Impact Hub Dhaka, and Gram Unnyan Kendra (GUK). The event marked a historic stride towards private partnerships for UNFPA Bangladesh, setting the stage for future collaborations that empower the private sector to contribute significantly to solving social problems and ensuring the sustainable growth of Bangladesh.