A virtual event under the banner of Youth Co:Lab titled, “Accelerator Bangladesh 3.0: National Dialogue on Bangladesh startup ecosystem into the next decade” was organized by UNDP and Citi Foundation in association with Startup Bangladesh Limited and LightCastle Partners on December 12 in Dhaka.

    Youth Co:Lab is created by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in association with Citi Foundation in 2017, as a platform to empower and invest for young entrepreneurs and innovators to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

    Shams Zaman, Director and Head of Banking, Capital Markets and Advisory, Citibank, N.A.  Bangladesh, said: “Citi is excited to support platforms like Youth Co-Lab to enable young people to take the lead in finding and developing new solutions for social and environmental problems in their respective communities.”

    Savinda Ranathunga, Regional Youth Project Manager of UNDP, said: “UNDP fosters empowerment and investment in youth so that they can accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through leadership, social innovation, and entrepreneurship.”

    Tina Jabeen, Managing Director of Startup Bangladesh Limited, said: “The government believes in the startup ecosystem to generate jobs and new opportunities for Bangladesh’s youth. Startup Bangladesh Limited is ready to support entrepreneurs with solutions that aim to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

    While thanking UNDP and Citi Foundation for the initiative, she added that Youth Co-Lab is opening new doors for young entrepreneurs from all over Bangladesh.

    Ke Lin (Linka), Youth Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation specialist from UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub, and Bijon Islam, CEO of LightCastle Partners gave the keynote presentation jointly to showcase the present status of the startup ecosystem in Bangladesh.

    Around 60+ delegates, including entrepreneurs, incubators, academics, young business leaders, government officials, private and development sector participants, and youth from different walks of life, were present at the virtual event.

    The delegates participated in the dialogue and presented recommendations for the Bangladesh Startup Ecosystem to foster beyond COVID and into the next decade. Out of many recommendations, stakeholders suggested that the regulators may extend more support to the young entrepreneurs on widening the startup investments scope, emphasize more on ease of doing business for youth-led startups and promote angel investments.

    The discussion also highlighted that the support services should be more accessible by all the young entrepreneurs from different parts of the country, in collaboration with the industry, the academic institutions should play vital role to promote and develop entrepreneurship skills for the young population. Incubation initiatives outside the capital are also very important to support a business and catalyze small funds to promote entrepreneurship.

    The discussion suggested that the ecosystem enablers should create a gender-friendly environment so that women entrepreneurs have better access to resources, capital, and support to become successful. Youth Co:Lab will soon publish the list of all the recommendations to initiate discussion of change and growth in the ecosystem nationally.