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Dhaka Tribune

Experts: Robust venture capital ecosystem can boost employment

To achieve this, policy support is essential, and subsequent turnaround of the country's startups could then enable them to contribute 2% to the GDP by 2025

Update : 11 Oct 2020, 09:57 PM

Experts urged for building a robust venture capital and startup ecosystem, which could increase employment opportunities in the country.

To achieve this, policy support is essential, and subsequent turnaround of the country's startups could then enable them to contribute 2% to the GDP by 2025, they further suggested. 

They were expressing their views at a webinar organized by the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC) and Venture Capital & Private Equity Association of Bangladesh (VCPEAB) on Saturday.

BSEC Chairman Prof Shibli Rubayat-Ul-Islam attended the webinar as chief guest, while BSEC Commissioner Prof Mizanur Rahman and Prof Shaikh Shamsuddin Ahmed were present as special guests.

The keynote speaker was Anis Uzzaman, general partner and CEO, Pegasus Tech Ventures. Shameem Ahsan, chairman of VCPEAB, presided over the session.

BSEC Commissioner Shaikh Shamsuddin Ahmed said: “We witnessed a lot of jobs being lost due to loss of markets and the Covid-19 pandemic. It is essential to build a robust venture capital and startup ecosystem which can give rise to employment opportunities in our country.”

Prof Mizanur Rahman said: “The Tokyo Mother's market and Shanghai STARS Market models have given us a course of action to reflect upon. The small cap board can be an opportunity for creating a simpler, easier and less regulated environment for startups to become listed and have access to funds.”

“Entrepreneurs need a functioning ecosystem that offers access to capital, talent, networks, and other resources to flourish. At present, there is only one unicorn or billion-dollar company in Bangladesh. By 2025, our vision is to create a startup-ecosystem that will have at least five companies with billion-dollar valuation, create 5 million direct employment, and contribute 2% to the GDP growth from ICT and startups,” said Shameem Ahsan.

“Bangladesh needs a small and mid-cap market model similar to Shanghai’s STARS market or Tokyo Mother’s market. Also, exit through IPO can greatly help the startup ecosystem in Bangladesh and help boost its economy,” Anis Uzzaman said.

BSEC Chairman Prof Shibly said: “We have a huge demographic advantage which is very rare in this world, almost 60% of our population are below 38 which is an asset for us as they possess the ability to generate several innovative ideas.

“We seek to utilize them for the development of Bangladesh by encouraging and supporting them,” he added.

Founder of Women in Tech Conference Jenni Risku, Managing Partner of Quest Ventures James Tan, and Professor of Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Dhaka University Asif Hossain Khan also attended the webinar.

Jenni Risku said that Bangladesh's startup ecosystem was very lively, especially due to technology, while Bangladesh has witnessed a notable transformation in the venture capital arena.

“We all aspire to have a vibrant venture capital and startup ecosystem and the government can play an important role to achieve this. The government can introduce favourable policies and subsidize credits for startups and SME which will be extremely beneficial for the venture capital and startup community,” said James Tan.

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