The Bangladesh Startup Ecosystem is coming of age riding on key drivers:
Strong Economy Vitals for Startups:
Tech adaptable young population 62%+ under 35 years, 165 million people (8th largest in the world) with high density (1200 people/Sq Km). Middle class growing at 10% per annum to reach 34 million by 2025, 105% mobile phone connection, 70% internet penetration, 115 million+ people on the internet with 106 million mobile internet penetration. The pandemic has also accelerated the use of ICT technology, including digital commerce, education, healthcare, agriculture.
Demographic Bulge with the Right Skill-sets:
The country generates 5,000+ IT graduates each year is creating a strong group of entrepreneurial waves focused on solving critical problems, including those during the pandemic. The country’s median age of 28 years means more young people are willing to take risks and explore innovations in the economy. With limited opportunities from STEM graduates (due to the absence of large-scale industrialization except for RMG/Textile, which is still more labor-intensive than automation) – they are looking into forming ICT-enabled companies and Startups. NRBs (Non-Resident Bangladeshis) are also returning, bringing in both investment capital and knowledge remittance
Bangladesh Startup Ecosystem at an Inflection Point:
The Bangladesh Entrepreneurship Ecosystem is at an inflection point with an excess of U$ 330 million accumulated over the last decade, in international investments from big-name corporate investors and venture capitals, investing in industries like FinTech, Logistics, and Mobility over the last five years. The emergence of active Angel Investment Networks, Impact Investing, host of local and international operating accelerators/ incubators propelled 1,200+ active Startups, generating 1.5 million+ employment – embracing products and services of Startups as part of the country’s everyday life. Additionally, B-SEC (Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission) has also approved small-cap stock exchange guidelines, which is a big step towards providing investors with Startup exits.
The Government of Bangladesh deployed the National ICT Policy in 2009 to become Digital Bangladesh by 2021. Government policies and projects from the ICT Ministry, such as IDEA Project and Startup Bangladesh Limited with 500 crore BDT (U$ 65 Million) funds, are taken to improve the local startup ecosystem. Additionally, GoB is setting up 28+ Hi-Tech Parks, including infrastructure support like data centers, to support technology companies.
Since March 2020, the country and all its businesses and startups have been affected drastically by the COVID-19 disruption. 24% of companies reported to have stopped operations, with 56% of startups seen at least a 50% drop on revenue generation. 63% of Startups have runway less than three months threatening 1.5 million employment and an annual loss of over U$ 53 Million in 2020. The disruption, however, is also propelling accelerated adoption of digital services with Digital Financial Services, Logistics, and Grocery on-demand, EdTech, HealthTech seeing steep growth.
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