Reported by Isao Tokuhashi
Mail to: email@example.com
“Amalgamate different business areas, nationalities, and ages… and one step forward!!” “Let’s exchange your opinions of start-up, entrepreneurship, innovation. — more open, more global, more innovative!!” — Those are slogans of the entrepreneurs’ group called “GTIC” (Global Techno Innovation Cafe) led by Tomo Akiyama, a former investment banker who’s worked for Merrill Lynch, UBS and so on.
They welcomed the high-level government delegation and entrepreneurs from Bangladesh to their 37th session (October 8, 2013). The theme was “Circumstances of Bangladeshi IT industry and business development with Japan”. Many Japanese business people joined the discussion and interacted with Bangladeshi company builders.
*Photos by GTIC
They had two Bangladeshi as guest speakers. One was M. Manjur Mahmad, who loves Haruki Murakami’s works, writing haiku and drawing pictures that are inspired by Japanese-style painting. Another is Ahmadul Hoq, a serial entrepreneur who used to stay in Japan for the project. The first presenter was M. Manjur Mahmad. He is a COO of DataSoft Systems Bangladesh Ltd, which undertakes IT outsourcing, offshore development, data protection etc.
Also he presides at Quality forum of BASIS (Bangladesh Association of Software & Information Services). He led off the speech with a greeting to the audience; “When you have something good and want to share it with somebody, you go to visit your friend. So I’m here to tell my friends about the real opportunity in the country”. Then he began the presentation about “Great potential of Bangladesh”.
Great things of Bangladesh (According to Manjur)
● 65% of its population (about 160 million) are people aged 25 or younger.
● They are hardworking and lower-paying. Moreover they have much knowledge of production process, quality control, finance and commodity procurement.
● Per-capita export quantum of bangladesh exceed one of China.
● Bangladesh is part of the Commonwealth so its academic level is the same as British one.
● Bangladeshi learn English before they go to elementary school, even they are nought or infant (age 0).
● Their slogan is “Digital Bangladesh” – They aim at building a country where people use digital devices even though it is the developing country. The government supports to promote their technology in various ways.
“I’ll give you some of the other innovations that are possible in a country like Bangladesh. If you don’t innovate, you will die because we have such a limited resources. We innovate to survive. And innovations creates the next innovations.”
The next presenter is Ahmadul Hoq. He became an entrepreneur after gaining experience of the international business at a global company called “British American Tobacco Group”. He’s contributed to the development of BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) and established many “contact centers” (a facility used by companies to manage all client contact through a variety of mediums such as telephones, e-mail etc).
Now he is an executive managing director of VIRGO Cotact Center Service Ltd and a President of BACCO (Bangladesh Association of Call Center & Outsourcing). Moreover while he was working at British American Tobacco, he stayed in Japan for a year. He made a presentation about “Why Bangladesh?”.
Great things of Bangladesh (According to Ahmadul)
● Average quit rate in Bangladesh is 7%. People prefer to work at the same company.
● 700 million dollars go to human resource cultivation over the next 10 years.
● Government plans to establish multiple IT parks. Some of them receive the support of the World Bank.
● If you start your own business at any IT park in Bangladesh, you’ll get an exemption of income tax for 10 years. And you’ll receive an exemption from customs duty if you import goods to Bangladesh. Your ownership is guaranteed 100%.
“Just looking at this series of moves, or catching a big wave? Please think of which way you go after this event. You can go to India, you can go to Sri Lanka, but I would like you to consider Bangladesh as one option.”
Tomo Akiyama, GTIC representative/startup accelerator, asked them after their presentations.
Q: General election will be held soon (the end of 2013). Would things that you’ve told us end up in smoke if the government changes? Amahdul answered this question;
A: “Our government has changed many times for the past 20 years but their supports for business had never stopped. Especially in the apparel industry, it was really tough for us to control but the industry has grown. 6% growth rate of GDP of Bangladesh still continues.
A get-together started after the presentations. The two presenters gave us messages.
Manjur Mahmad, COO of DataSoft Systems Bangladesh Ltd;
“Our advantage is that there are people who were educated abroad like us come back home and work for the country. Condition of investment and IT industry promotion have been improved in Bangladesh. We have a plenty of talented people, especially young people who posses the ability to develop wonderful solutions. You may be concerned about blackouts.
But now all of business institutions in Bangladesh have alternative power supplies such as generators, UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) and so on. Our infrastructure has been built and We are ready to support you in policy matters. So please come to Bangladesh and look at many different places with your eyes. As of 2013, I believe that Bangladesh is the most wonderful place for business in the world.”
Ahmadul Hoq, executive managing director of VIRGO Contact Center Service Ltd;
“My company undertakes assignments such as accounting, payroll management, tax matters and contact center operations from other companies. Countries where labor cost rises, competition increases and has a labor shortage like Japan should consider BPO as one option. Moreover BPO has a great effect on startup companies. They have fewer funds, that’s why I would like them to use us. They focus on making beautiful apps and we will support them. We want to support startups who would be like Google in 10 years!”
The country name of Bangladesh always reminds us Ms. Eriko Yamaguchi, a Japanese woman who started to make high end bags with jute and leathers in Bangladesh in her early 20s. She overcame many difficulties and then launch a brand called “Motherhouse”.
It seems that Bangladesh has gotten the eye from many countries including Japan as a frontier over the past few years. On the other hand, Yamaguchi flew to Bangladesh for the first time in 2004. We felt that the stories she told us and presentations of the two Bangladeshi businesspeople are totally different.
Bangladesh has changed from “Poorest country in Asia” to “Asian rising star” in less than a decade. You can’t keep your eyes off the country!
GTIC on Facebook (J/E)
DataSoft Systems Bangladesh Ltd
BASIS（Bangladesh Association of Software & Information Services）
VIRGO Cotact Center Service Ltd BACCO（Bangladesh Association of Call Center & Outsourcing）