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Speakers Urges for Innovation in Policy & Regulations

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Roundtable Discussion on Boosting eCommerce & Startups in Bangladesh

Bangladesh, like other countries throughout the world, has seen an increase in electronic commerce. Consumers can now choose from a variety of digital products and services created by a number of young entrepreneurs. The industry, however, has not yet achieved its full potential. Its expansion is hampered by a number of obstacles.  Preneur Lab Youth and Innovation Trust which works to empower entrepreneurs have come forward to ameliorate the scenario by initiating  “Business Boost Bangladesh” with an aim to ease the path of entrepreneurship and the process of business formation and operation. To reform the policy, It conducted surveys and interviewed hundreds of youth entrepreneurs, done FGDs with lawyers, policymakers, and business registrars in the process

A 2-hour virtual roundtable on digital business and eCommerce was organized on January 22, 2022, as part of this initiative where they published a report that outlined all of the findings which will be publicly available.

Experts gave their perspectives on the business difficulties and how to improve the business environment more conducive to entrepreneurs. The initiative’s ultimate goal is policy reform to aid in the growth of the startup ecosystem. The roundtable brought together business leaders, startup entrepreneurs, and policymakers to discussion on Boosting eCommerce & Startups in Bangladesh

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A number of other notable experts and policymakers shared their views like  Dr. Atiur Rahman, former Governor of the Bangladesh Bank; Tajdin Hassan, CMO, Daraz- Alibaba Group; Rezwanul Haque, Head of eCommerce, a2i Program, ICT Division of Bangladesh; Sahariar Hasan Jii Sun, National Consultant, a2i, ICT Division of Bangladesh; Sabera Anwar, Founder of GoDeshi – Made in Bangladesh, etc. They all presented their points of view and ideas based on their expertise and knowledge in this subject.

The roundtable discussion was moderated by Rakhshanda Rukham who is the  Co-Founder of the Preneur Lab Youth and Innovations Trust. Mr. Arif Nezami, Co-Founder of the Preneur Lab Youth and Innovations Trust, was in attendance.

Dr. Atiur Rahman said, “The report did an excellent job of analyzing and identifying the problem that today’s businesses face”. He also suggested, “The regulations and process should be simplified but at the same time, it needs proper surveillance and monitoring. The main problem with a trade license is that it requires renewal every year. Trade licenses should be renewed every 5 years for small businesses. Sometimes the overall registration process costs can be very expensive for a young entrepreneur.”

The new form of business, e-commerce is growing fashionable in the country, as it is in the rest of the globe. Many people, particularly women from various fields, are expressing a strong interest in starting and running their own home-based enterprises.

Tajdin Hassan said, “When a company is in growth momentum, it is sometimes required to modify strategy to bring innovation because innovation brings transparency and trust is very important for ecommerce”.  He also said, “It is a very good sign that people have the habit of adopting electronic commerce as a regular part of life. Ecommerce should be backed up financially and we need to invest more on innovation, infrastructure and logistics”

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Businesses can only succeed when there is a collaborative approach and entrepreneurs are aware of procedures properly.

Rezwanul Haque said, ” There are 13 types of trade license systems available in Bangladesh. We are trying to combine all of them so that entrepreneurs can create a trade license from anywhere using UBI.”

This is the ideal time to define ecommerces and startups in terms of law and policy in order to facilitate scalability, growth, and innovation.

Sahariar Hasan Jii Sun said, “Many Govt and semi Govt organizations are giving training to the entrepreneurs so that they can maintain a standard procedure.”

Sabera Anwar talked about the problem of SMEs in reaching the right people and said , “The programs of BSCIC or SME are very much limited and the people who are actually working in these sectors are not even getting 5% of support from them. So this should be looked after”

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Finally, Rakhshanda concluded the program and shared that the eCommerce and startup sectors are currently gaining popularity among the general public. However, this industry is also up against challenges in terms of establishing itself. If the challenges can be solved and reforms implemented, this sector may provide society with a bright and promising future. More of these kinds of actions should be launched to resolve the issues. The report can be downloaded from https://xho.to/bbbreport

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Anwar Group of Industries Organized ‘Induction of Leadership’ program

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Anwar Group of Industries, a leading Bangladeshi conglomerate, celebrated a momentous occasion with the formal induction of its new leadership team.

In a ceremony held at the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), Mr. Manwar Hossain, Chairman of Anwar Group of Industries, officially announced Mr. Hossain Mehmood as Vice Chairman and Mr. Hossain Khaled as the Group Managing Director of Anwar Group of Industries. Additionally, Mr. Furkaan N Hossain, Mr. Waeez R Hossain, and Ms. Faizah Mehmood were sworn in as Deputy Managing Director of Anwar Group of Industries.

The “Induction of Leadership” ceremony on March 3, 2024, marked a memorable and new chapter for Anwar Group of Industries. At the ceremony, Mr. Manwar Hossain, Chairman of Anwar Group of Industries, presented the group’s brooches to Mr. Hossain Mehmood, Mr. Hossain Khaled, Mr. Furkaan N Hossain, Mr. Waeez R Hossain, and Ms. Faizah Mehmood. The ceremony was also attended by members of the Anwar family, stakeholders, and employees.

Committed to empowering its employees and creating a shared vision for the future, Chairman of Anwar Group of Industries, Mr. Manwar Hossain announced a groundbreaking move, all future employees will be made shareholders. This bold initiative underscores the group’s belief in the value of its employees and its commitment to building a sustainable and inclusive future.

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Shark Tank Bangladesh: Meet the Sharks!

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The global phenomenon show “Shark Tank” is finally coming to Bangladesh as Shark Tank Bangladesh. Bangladesh’s top OTT platform, Bongo, signed a deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment to bring the world’s number-one business show to Bangladesh.

“Shark Tank” allows entrepreneurs to pitch their business idea to a panel of investors, known as “Sharks”, who can offer the entrepreneurs cash for a deal if they like the opportunity. Whether it is a prototype of a new product, an existing product or service, or a company looking for a financial injection to grow, the entrepreneurs have to convince the five “Sharks” to invest in their idea and help turn their life’s work into a household name.

Since launching in 2001 as “Money Tigers” on Nippon TV in Japan, the format has become a phenomenal worldwide success. It is produced in territories on every continent under a variety of names including “Dragon’s Den”, “Lion’s Den,” and of course “Shark Tank.” The format has seen Dragons, Lions, and Sharks, all hugely successful entrepreneurs themselves, invest nearly $1 billion through all versions of the franchise across the globe, enabling dozens of companies to grow significantly. Entrepreneurs who have been onboarded into the “Shark” ecosystem have seen massive growth and generated billions of dollars in sales after receiving deals and being featured on the show.

Shooting for the much-anticipated show is scheduled to kick off on February 12th, after having screened more than 2,000 companies to select the best businesses. Producers from Sony, Arch Dyson, and Kevin Hyland, who have helped supervise and produce versions of the show around the world, will be present in Dhaka to unveil the Sharks and oversee the first few days of the shoot.

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After a long wait, the panel of Bangladeshi Sharks is ready to be unveiled. The investors, aka Sharks, are all business leaders in their own right and are excited to hear the pitches from the innovative Bengali entrepreneurs.

Robi is the “Title Sponsor,” Startup Bangladesh is the “Powered By Sponsor,” Tally is the “Co-Sponsor”, Prime Bank is the “Banking Partner,” Olympic Foodie Instant Noodles is the “Snacks Partner,” Sunquick is the “Beverage Partner,” Yellow by Beximco is the “Wardrobe Partner”,  Kloth Studio is the “Style Partner”, Holiday Inn is the “Hospitality Partner”, Inn Star is the “Pre-Pitch Interview Room Partner”, Euro Vigil Security Services is the “Security Partner”, Raw Exposure is the “Photography Partner”, Live2Web is the “Backstory Partner”, Chows is the “Restaurant Partner”,Miniso is the “Gift Partner” and Concito is the “PR Partner” of Shark Tank Bangladesh Season 1. Deepto TV will broadcast the inaugural season of the show while it will be streamed on Bongo.

Shark Tank Bangladesh Season 1: The Sharks

Sami Ahmed

Startup Bangladesh

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Sami Ahmed, Managing Director and CEO of Startup Bangladesh Limited (SBL), a Government Venture Capital firm, spearheads seed-stage and growth-stage startup investments. He is committed to helping empower the local startup ecosystem and has dedicated his career to helping improve the tech landscape in Bangladesh.  Previously, he advised LICT and held pivotal roles in Bangladesh’s IT-ITES Industry and BASIS. His influence extends to the Government and private sector. With a background in computer science from the University of Texas, Austin, he leverages US experience to foster Bangladesh’s ICT growth. Recognized for shaping digital policies, Ahmed’s return to Bangladesh signifies a commitment to societal and national progress, solidifying his pivotal role in the country’s startup ecosystem.

Nazim Farhan Chowdhury

ADCOMM

Nazim Farhan Choudhury is a serial entrepreneur and a feminist. He is also the Managing Director of Adcomm Holding Group which has investments in Advertising, IT, Hospitality, and Media. They have also been active investors in the Bangladesh startup scene for over a decade. The most prominent of their investment is in one of the top 3 advertising agencies in Bangladesh.  With stellar clients like Unilever, Akij Ventures, and a host of top brands in the country, Adcomm over the last 50 years has been a powerhouse in the advertising communication space. The group’s IT companies GraphicPeople, SoftwarePeople, and The Kow Company are amongst the country’s top ITES exporters, employing over 600 people. The group’s Nazimgarh Resorts runs two luxury resorts in Sylhet. Choudhury’s involvement in the start-up ecosystem has been proven by an enviable string of investments including Aamartaka, HandyMama, and Babuland among quite a few others. Choudhury is also an active mentor and is involved in voluntary organizations like the Jaago Foundation as a founding trustee.  Choudhury’s commitment to innovation and excellence cements his influence in Bangladesh’s business community.

Golam Murshed

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Majesto Limited/Ex-Walton

Golam Murshed,  currently the Managing Director of Majesto Limited is a dedicated business leader who has left an enduring mark on Walton, a renowned conglomerate, over a decade-long career, where he helped catapult them into a multi-billion dollar company as the Managing Director. His commitment to excellence, innovative production, and assertive marketing strategies have positioned him as a prominent figure.Murshed’s exceptional leadership, coupled with his expertise in technology and product management, empowers him to navigate dynamic market landscapes effortlessly. His dedication to innovation and industry leadership is now poised to revolutionize the furniture industry.

Kazi Mahboob Hassan

R Ventures PLC

Kazi M. Hassan, CEO of Robi’s digital ventures arm R Ventures PLC, drives the company’s digital growth, collaborating with partners to enhance customer experiences. With an MBA from Oxford and FCCA qualification, he chairs ACCA Bangladesh’s Member Advisory Committee. Previously, Kazi led international strategies at logistics giant DELHIVERY, advised a2i on restructuring, and held key roles at local Telcos. He supports Bangladeshi startups, mentors entrepreneurs, and attracts foreign investments, contributing significantly to the country’s tech ecosystem.

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Samanzar Khan

AKS Khan Holdings Ltd

Samanzar Khan is the Managing Director of A K S Khan Holdings Ltd, an investment and operating company that aggressively identifies and acquires companies in which it can leverage its strengths to generate superior earnings or market value. She is the eldest daughter of Mr. A K Shamsuddin Khan, Chairman of A K Khan & Co. Ltd. A Barrister by qualification, she graduated from the London School of Economics. She founded Bonex UK Ltd in 2008, marketing unique fire-fighting solutions in the UK and Europe. In 2010, she returned to Bangladesh to become the CEO of A K Khan Healthcare Trust, a non-profit founded by her father to enhance healthcare in Bangladesh. A decade on, she now manages a diverse portfolio of companies across different sectors ranging from healthcare, agriculture to education.

Fahim Mashroor

Bdjobs.com

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Fahim Mashroor is Managing Director of Bdjobs.com, the most popular online job searching platform in the country. Fahim founded Bdjobs 23 years ago in 2000. Currently the company has over 300 members working in the 10 offices across the country. It is the first tech company that got valued by a global tech company. In 2015, SEEK Australia purchased its 25% share at a valuation of 25 Million USD. Fahim Mashroor has been investing actively in different tech startups in software, logistics, fintech and eCommerce. For his innovative contribution in the tech industry, Fahim has received a number of prestigious awards such as Best SME entrepreneurs by SME foundation and ICT Personality of the Year by ICT ministry

Ahmed Ali

TISTA Science and Technology Corporation

Ahmed R. Ali, Founder and Chairman of TISTA Science and Technology Corporation, grew the company from a small operation to a thriving multimillion-dollar enterprise, emphasizing hard work and excellence. Inspired by Top Gun, he joined the military to fund his education, excelling as a radio frequency engineer. Transitioning to IT security, Ahmed founded TISTA, overcoming challenges with determination to take his cyber security firm to a several thousand crore annual revenue company which he built from the ground up. Raised by Bangladeshi immigrant parents, he values giving back to the country and honors his heritage through TISTA’s name. Ahmed’s story reflects resilience, service, and a commitment to impact.

In addition to these Sharks, several other high-profile female entrepreneurs will be joining the Tank. Their names will be shared soon.

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Telenor to sell Pakistan telecoms unit for $490 mln

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OSLO, Dec 14 (Reuters) – Norway’s Telenor (TEL.OL) said on Thursday it had agreed to sell its Pakistan unit to state group Pakistan Telecommunications (PTCA.PSX) in a transaction valuing the unit at 5.3 billion Norwegian crowns ($490 million).

The Norwegian group has been restructuring its Asian businesses, building bigger units in Thailand and Malaysia via local mergers, and had said it hoped to decide on a solution for the Pakistan business by year-end.

“We also tried to do a merger in Pakistan but we didn’t manage to get that, and when we saw this wasn’t happening the second-best alternative was to arrange a sale,” Telenor CEO Sigve Brekke told Reuters.

“It was a combination of not getting the structure in place, and value. So we found a sale was better for our shareholders,” he added.

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Telenor Pakistan, launched 18 years ago, has 45 million customers.

Pakistan Telecommunications’ share price rose 8.3% on Thursday, while Telenor’s was up 1.1% at 0837 GMT.

In the first nine months, Telenor Pakistan contributed 2.6 billion crowns in service revenue and 1.4 billion crowns in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to the group.

The deal is subject to regulatory approvals, and the aim is to close it during 2024. The sale was not estimated to have a significant impact on financials for 2023, Telenor said.

Telenor’s remaining Asian portfolio consists of stakes in Grameenphone in Bangladesh, CelcomDigi in Malaysia and True Corp in Thailand, with close to 160 million customers combined.

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“Telenor Asia will remain an active owner for the three market-leading businesses which make up our Asian portfolio,” said the head of the company’s operation in the region, Petter-Boerre Furberg.

($1 = 10.7403 Norwegian crowns)

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