LightCastle Partners, in partnership with UNDP Youth Co:Lab, researched youth entrepreneurship in Bangladesh to understand the opportunities and challenges in the youth entrepreneurship landscape and developed this “Youth Entrepreneurship Research Dashboard.”
The study gathered data from a diverse group of 147 respondents hailing from 19 distinct locations across Bangladesh and analyzed the scope of youth entrepreneurship in the policy and regulatory framework, human capital and entrepreneurship culture, access to finance, business development support and infrastructure, innovation and technology, access to market, and COVID-19 impact.
Notably, a significant portion of the respondents, comprising 64 individuals, were based in Dhaka, while 51 respondents hailed from Rangpur. Furthermore, a sizeable 45% of the participants fell within the age bracket of 18 to 25 years. In terms of sectors, the Wholesale and Retail trade emerged as the leading industry, followed by Agriculture, Forestry, Poultry, and Fishing.
Delving into the realm of Human Capital and Entrepreneurship Culture, a staggering 57% of respondents reported encountering challenges due to social norms during their transition from education to entrepreneurship. Top factors that were voted the most important for a young entrepreneur to have included the ability to manage business operations, implement ideas, commercialize concepts, and have knowledge of several market channels.
Shifting the focus to Financial Inclusion, the respondents displayed awareness of financial instruments, with microfinance and equity investments being the most commonly known. However, debt financing took precedence as the most utilized financial instrument for their businesses. Over 61% of respondents reported facing difficulties accessing finance.
Remarkably, 62% of respondents revealed their participation in accelerator or incubator programs, with 42% of them prioritizing networking with investors or potential clients as their primary objective. Another 20% expressed the need for technological support.
In terms of Technology Adoption, a significant 62% of respondents reported utilizing the Internet to run or support their businesses. Email usage was prevalent among half of the respondents, while 15% reported leveraging a Facebook Business Page for business purposes.
When analyzing the Market Exposure of businesses in Bangladesh, it becomes evident that the most significant challenge lies in inadequate infrastructure, followed closely by an underdeveloped capital market and a lack of government incentives. Furthermore, when considering the prospect of international expansion, the majority of respondents, comprising over half of the participants, expressed it as one of their business objectives within the next 5 years. However, a concerning trend emerged as many of them admitted to lacking knowledge about different options and opportunities in this regard.
The respondents also highlighted areas where regulatory frameworks and government policies can be helpful and need to be strengthened. These areas include youth-oriented development, diversification of businesses into various channels, and facilitation of cooperation between large and small firms.