Experts hope to create 5 unicorns by 2025

Bangladesh’s startup ecosystem is heating up, but still facing challenges

Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC), Venture Capital & Private Equity Association of Bangladesh (VCPEAB) and World Social Innovation Forum (WSIF) organized a roundtable titled “Building A Vibrant Startup Ecosystem” to celebrate World Investor Week 2022.

It is a week-long, global campaign promoted by the International Organization of Securities Commission (IOSCO), reads a press release. 

The roundtable discussed the required improvements or changes in current regulations or provisions for ameliorating a better and stronger start-up ecosystem. Experts also discussed the vision to create five unicorns by 2025.

Bangladesh’s startup ecosystem is heating up, but still facing challenges. Currently, Bangladesh has 1,200 active startups creating drastic impacts in day-to-day Bangladeshi lives through new, innovative products and services. 

The country has attracted a total investment of $505 million in 2021 and 2022 (up to quarter 2), with a total contribution of $498 million from global investors. 

Although Bangladesh’s position as a maturing startup hotspot has started grabbing international attention, the support for startups needs to evolve. Some improvements or changes in current regulations can bring development to a better and stronger industry.

In the roundtable, the Commissioner of BSEC Dr Shaikh Shamsuddin Ahmed attended as a special guest. The keynote presentation was delivered by Managing Partner of Quest Venture James Tan and Chief Investment Officer of Constellation Asset Management Company, Director of VCPEAB Tanveer Ali. 

The moderator of the session was the Vice President of VCPEAB, Managing Partner of SEAF Bangladesh Ventures Asif Mahmood.

BSEC Commissioner Dr Shaikh Shamsuddin Ahmed said: “We are collaboratively trying to build a triangle relationship with two vital regulatory bodies which are Bangladesh bank and NBR to promote foreign investment, venture capital and private equity firm in Bangladesh.” 

Managing Director of Startup Bangladesh Sami Ahmed said: “It is an exhilarating time for the startup ecosystem in Bangladesh as we see a lot of innovations coming to us for funding. We only read about various innovations that are happening in other countries, but it is really overwhelming to see similar types of ideas and innovations are also nurtured and pitched to us almost every day.”

Vice President of VCPEAB and Managing Director of SEAF Bangladesh Ventures LLC Asif Mahmood said: “Our education system needs to be transformed in a way so that the younger generation who are the actual producer and nurturer of innovation can be integrated into our startup ecosystem”.

Board Member of World Social Innovation Forum (WSIF) and Founder of Women in Tech Conference Asia Jenni Risku said: “Women can actually be a catalyst to the entire startup ecosystem. I believe diversity in ecosystem pays back in a number of ways- to the investors, to the startups as well as to the government.”

Board Member of World Social Innovation Forum (WSIF) and Managing Partner of Quest Ventures James Tan said: “Singapore, one of the world’s leading startup ecosystems in terms of multiple successful startups, is the regional hub for incorporation, venture capital, and international connections. I really think the world stands ready to invest in potential great economies such as Bangladesh.” 

Director of VCPEAB and Managing Director of SBK Tech Ventures Sonia Bashir said: “Being a VC, and women entrepreneur, I think that women entrepreneurs or women VCs need to get more attention. If we consider women as an asset class, cater for them, groom them and ensure gender balance, there will be a lot of value addition in this field.”

CEO of Delivery Tiger and CEO & Co-Founder of AjkerDeal.com and Managing Director of Bdjobs.com Fahim Mashroor said: “We need to be very pragmatic on startup funding that probably we will not be flooded with global VC fund in the next two to three years. So, we need to work on the policy level and ensure higher capital efficiency so that we can get maximum output from the funding we get.”

Director of VCPEAB and Chief Investment Officer of Constellation Asset Management Company Tanveer Ali said: “Collaboration and empathy can contribute towards better vibrancy in the ecosystem. It is important for each stakeholder to understand the challenge of others and work collaboratively to reach a common goal. The other considerations which are needed to be considered are legal supports, tax exemptions and exit opportunities.”

President of Capital Market Journalist Forum (CMJF) and Editor of Arthoshuchok Ziaur Rahman said: “Media can play a vital role to attract foreign investment and increase the brand equity of Bangladesh startup ecosystem globally by writing up features, articles and reports on innovations and talented entrepreneurs.”

Global Steering Committee Member of World Social Innovation Forum (WSIF) and Managing Director of Click Ventures (China) Carman Chan; Senior Vice President of VCPEAB and Chairman of VIPB Asset Management Company Zia U Ahmed; Managing Partner of MyAsiaVC and Board Member of ICANN Sajid Rahman; Global Steering Committee Member of World Social Innovation Forum (WSIF) and CEO of Stratex Pro (Nigeria) Noel Akpata; Vice President of VCPEAB and Managing Director of BD Venture Shafique-ul-Azam; Director of VCPEAB and Managing Director of Velocity Asia Shawkat Hossain; Co-Founder & CEO of Chaldal Waseem Alim were also present.