The Bangladesh Startup Investment Report Q’3 2023, a collaborative effort between LightCastle Partners, Startup Bangladesh Limited, Anchorless Bangladesh, Bangladesh Angels Network, and BD Startup Founders, is the latest addition to LightCastle’s ongoing series of quarterly publications focusing on Bangladesh’s startup ecosystem.
Bijon Islam, CEO of LightCastle Partners, joined the Money Square podcast hosted by entrepreneur and investor Mustafizur Rahman Khan to discuss the latest trends in Bangladesh’s startup investment landscape that have been unveiled in the Q’3 2023 edition of the Startup Investment Report.
Bijon Islam highlighted the first Bangladesh Startup Summit as a major milestone in the ultimate goal to position Bangladesh as an advanced economy by 2041, with startups serving as a vital component in achieving this ambitious objective.
The summit was inaugurated by Sheikh Hasina, Honourable Prime Minister of Bangladesh where she emphasized the impressive progress achieved in digitization and female entrepreneurship in Bangladesh.
Moreover, this exceptional gathering featured a diverse array of speakers, including high-ranking officials, key figures in the Bangladeshi startup scene, aspiring entrepreneurs, startup enthusiasts, angel investors, regulators, think tanks, and experts from local and international markets.
Bijon Islam made a strong case for why Bangladesh is the best-kept secret in Asia. An emerging economic powerhouse with a nearly half-trillion-dollar economy, it can today rival economies like Singapore.
Moreover, it is on track to become the ninth-largest consumer market by 2030. From a startup standpoint, this is significant since startups are driving a large part of this growth. Startups have already created 1.5 million jobs, surpassing the RMG sector.
Despite recent challenges, Asia, especially Bangladesh, continues to be a prominent player in global venture capital funding. With a GDP comparable to that of Singapore, Bangladesh demonstrates enormous economic promise, but startup funding per capita lags behind India.
With increased awareness and support, Bangladesh can unlock its potential. Its strategic location, dynamic ecosystem, and favorable policy initiatives make it an attractive investment hub. Notable investors like SoftBank are showing interest, and funding from local investors is growing, indicating a promising future for Bangladesh’s startup ecosystem.
In recent years, there has been a noticeably positive shift in the startup funding dynamic of Bangladesh as a result of increased participation from local investors. Various indigenous players, including incubators, development partners, traditional funders, and government initiatives, are contributing to the burgeoning startup ecosystem across different sectors. This bodes well for the future as Bangladesh aims to become a trillion-dollar economy by 2031, attract significant investment, and generate millions of jobs through startups.
During the wide-ranging discussion, Bijon expressed confidence that young and emerging companies, particularly startups, in Bangladesh have the potential to become game-changers. They can disrupt the global funding market, provided that local investors also play a significant role.
Unlocking local capital requires favorable government policies like tax incentives and business-friendly environments, which can enhance success rates and encourage local investors to invest in startups.
Bangladeshi startups are offering practical answers to the critical issues faced by Bangladesh. These homegrown ventures are tackling tough challenges and making contributions that go beyond mere comparison with conventional options. This is particularly important because, during times of adversity, these local startups have significantly bolstered the economy over the past two years.
For example, Pathao created jobs and reduced the need for second cars, resulting in fewer cars on the road and more productive capital utilization. iFarmer provides farmers access to capital and better markets and initiatives like ShopUp and 10 Minute School are tackling substantial challenges in education.