Underneath the red tape and poor business infrastructure, lies Bangladesh's greatest resource. Its entrepreneurs. And the key to unlocking their potential is a neologism that promises to create up to a million new jobs in a decade: e-commerce.
According to the E-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB), there are about 50,000 people directly or indirectly engaged in the e-commerce business. The e-CAB already has 590 members and hopes to create jobs for 1,000,000 people within the next 10 years.
Lenin Azad, Jagannath University business graduate and CEO of smartzone-bd.com told the Dhaka Tribune: “Creating a new business should mean creating new jobs, thereby aiding the government in reducing unemployment. It will also help to reduce poverty.”
“Our education system compels students to study for jobs. They memorise irrelevant information and have to spend a lot of time looking for jobs.”
“Disappointed with the system and the bleak future we foresaw, we decided to find a solution ourselves, one that would ultimately help others as well.”
“That is when we decided to create an e-commerce business which would provide consumers with good quality products at reasonable prices.”
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“E-commerce plays an important role in linking local producers directly with sellers and consumers. People are now able to purchase goods produced in their hometowns, even while living elsewhere,” said Masum Khan, one of the directors of Aalaadin.com.
“It is better for young men to run their own businesses rather than working for someone else, but can also be a great supplement to someone's primary income,” he added
The owner of Chuijhal.com, Zahidul Islam said: “As Bangladesh is becoming more urbanised, the opportunities for e-commerce businesses are increasing. I was already dissatisfied with my job at a multinational corporation, so it was the best time to start something of my own.”
When Zahidul started his business in 2014, he had a total capital of Tk4,000. He now employs 11 people and rakes in monthly sales of over Tk5 lakh.
E-commerce entrepreneurs claim that the major drawbacks for e-commerce are the lack of internet penetration in rural areas, poor internet service speeds, the high cost of internet services and the absence of user friendly payment methods.
Former president of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS), Shamim Ahsan concurred, saying: “E-commerce is an untapped goldmine for Bangladesh. Not only can it create jobs and reduce poverty, but it can help people to become more self-sufficient.”
He urged the government to aid in addressing the issues barring the growth of e-commerce in the country and to frame policies which support and protect local e-commerce businesses from the influx of foreign businesses.