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Ready for business

  • Published at 10:44 am November 3rd, 2017
  • Last updated at 07:40 pm November 3rd, 2017
Ready for business

In the entrepreneurship scene of our country, challenges vary from entrepreneur to entrepreneur.

Every aspiring entrepreneur faces a different dilemma, making it difficult to judge and come to a conclusion regarding particular challenges.

Some, for instance, lack financial solvency, others, enough land. Some lack expertise while others cannot generate enough ideas.

And, of course, there are challenges dependent on demography and location.

Where’s the money?

For the moment, let’s focus on the Bangladeshi perspective. In a recent study, it was found that, among 1,270 young people in Bangladesh who have at least one university degree, more than 42% reported a lack of funds as the major reason for not being able to start a venture.

In our country, no doubt, funding is the greatest challenge for entrepreneurs unlike other developed countries -- although funding isn’t everything.

At the moment, there are seven million small entrepreneurs in the country. It sounds good to learn that there is such massive participation in entrepreneurship, but the amount is not as high as it seems: In the Global Entrepreneurship Index, Bangladesh’s position is at 133 among 137 countries.

The survey, which shows Bangladesh in the lowest spot among all counties in Asia, is extremely disheartening. One of the core problems behind this low performance can be obstacles in funding.

In addition, the social stigma of being a start-up founder or an entrepreneur rather than that of a job holder is also an issue. The initial family and social support is not available to most entrepreneurs and, as such, fails to uphold the start-up eco-system in Bangladesh.

Time is of the essence

Conversely, start-up communities sometimes don’t have enough patience. For instance, if someone fails in his/her first attempt, he/she is too disheartened to try again.

But let’s look at the prospects: The present entrepreneurial eco-system is gradually getting momentum in Bangladesh.

There are several national and international businesses and accelerator program which have been doing good work. Innovation hubs, hackathons, app development, and digital marketing contests, are contributing to upgrading the eco-system.

What we need to do is create a space for a sustainable entrepreneurial eco-system for our youth, a place where they can take part in discussions and share their opinions regarding the problems they face in their ventures

Recently, even some books were published both in English and Bengali on entrepreneurship and leadership which has brought new insight on current start-up trends.

Subsequently, Bangladesh climbed up three spots to 114 in the Global Innovation Index (GII) in 2017 among 127 countries, released jointly by Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

Let’s take another example. CXO Hub is a community, powered by EMK Centre and Preneur Lab, for start-ups and investors, and they jointly organised a roundtable discussion on “Startup Investment Stories” in January in Dhaka.

The core discussion was that the country needs more mature products and entrepreneurs. Investment and revenue will run after start-ups if they can build a significant number of success stories.

One of the important topics at the roundtable was many local giants are stepping into e-commerce in 2017. But the market needs more mature efforts. Some have pointed out that the government is interested and is putting significant efforts to support these start-ups by developing and investing in various ventures, such as hi-tech parks, which will no doubt result in significant impact.

Young people can draw fresh perspectives, and find innovative ways to look at things when provided with directions and adequate support.

They can generate ideas to mitigate even the most pressing social issues that currently prevail in this country.

What we need to do is create a space for a sustainable entrepreneurial eco-system for our youth, a place where they can take part in discussions and share their opinions regarding the problems they face in their ventures.

They can brainstorm to design action plans to combat the problems and eventually see the implementation of the plan and witness how the problem is eradicated. This can only be done through greater involvement, both by aspiring entrepreneurs and investors.

Lastly, it is important to maintain a smooth flow of resources and investment. There will always be obstacles in the beginning, but if the government and the startup eco-system can assist the youth-led initiatives in the early stages, it may pave the way towards a sound and sustainable entrepreneurial future.

Syed Rabius Shams is an Entrepreneurial Journalist & CEO of Ra’dia Inc.

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