The government plans to create an environment where start-ups can truly sustain and create an impact, says Planning Minister Mannan
Venture Capital and Private Equity Association of Bangladesh (VCPEAB) has urged tax exemptions for alternative fund managers and the creation of a fund to foster investments and better access to finance for venture capital firms and start-ups.
The association discussed this on Thursday at a virtual roundtable session titled “Venture Capital and Start-ups for a Post-Covid Resilient Economy,” held in partnership with the Capital Market Journalists’ Forum (CMJF).
Planning Minister MA Mannan attended as the chief guest at the session.
“The government is here to support the venture capital and start-up sector, and it has taken joint efforts with regulators, private financial institutions, and venture capitalists to this end,” he said.
Mannan added that the government plans to create an environment where start-ups can truly sustain and create an impact in Bangladesh.
“Moreover, we aim to work on the policy level to allow entrepreneurs to sustain and operate their businesses with ease,” he further said.
Professor Shibli Rubayat-Ul-Islam, chairman of the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC); Professor Shaikh Shamsuddin Ahmed, commissioner of BSEC; and Abu Farah Md Nasser, deputy governor of Bangladesh Bank, were present as special guests.
Shibli said the commission has always incorporated new rules and regulations to foster investments in start-ups and to assist in bringing start-ups to the capital market with proper due diligence.
“Start-ups use innovative business models to drive growth. We are here to support these businesses through capital market inclusion and investments so that they can bring forth the latest innovations in our economy,” he added.
“Different countries are contacting us for investment; the list includes Singapore and Dubai. Even America is contacting us for investment. So, money will not be a problem,” the BSEC chairman further said.
Shaikh Shamsuddin Ahmed said start-ups should not be limited to only a few cities where everything is technology-driven, and where the services are only for the highly educated or privileged.
“Instead, we need to decentralize these businesses to bring diversity and provide the services to a greater population,” he said.
Abu Farah Md Nasser said the Bangladesh Bank will give as much facility as possible under the current regulations.
“The market demand for credit is already there and the banking sector has to be efficient to be an important part of the VC and startup ecosystem,” Nasser added.
VCPEAB President Shameem Ahsan said that in the next 15 years, the majority of the organizations in the world will initiate impact-driven businesses and the majority of the world’s population will consume products and services from impact-driven companies.
“It will also help us become less susceptible to the effects of pandemics like Covid-19 and build a resilient economy. Government departments and agencies such as the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Planning, ICT Ministry, central bank, BSEC, and NBR need to support this impact ecosystem with favourable policies and tax incentives to give it a massive boost,” he added.
Arif Khan, vice-chairman of Shanta Asset Management, said in his keynote presentation that today’s start-ups will be the building block of the next decades in Bangladesh.
He requested all the regulators and stakeholders to remove the major obstacles as fast as possible to foster a robust start-up ecosystem.
Sujoy Mohajan, the business editor of Prothom Alo, said start-ups have difficulty raising capital from the local market, which points to the critical shortcomings of fund management in the country.
Government and banks should formulate policies that give access to funds to venture capitals and the local start-ups, helping them overcome the financing challenges, he added.
Among others, Hasan Imam Rubel, president of CMJF; Zaid Bakht, chairman of Agrani Bank; Asif Mahmood, managing director of SEAF Bangladesh Ventures LLC; Anh Pham, chief partner officer of SEA Emerging Region at Microsoft; Maliha Quadir, managing director of Shohoz; Shawkat Hossain, director of Light Castle Partners; Waseem Alim, CEO of Chaldal; and Shafique-Ul-Azam, managing director of BD Venture, also spoke at the session.