Vision 2025 to create a Startup and VC Friendly Ecosystem has been launched at the Bangladesh regional event of the biggest startup competition in the world Startup World Cup. It has been targeted that within 2025, Bangladesh startup ecosystem will develop seven times accomplishing 4 objectives of the vision. In the present time there is one and only USD 1 billion Dollar company (Unicorn) and the goal is to have five companies with billion-dollar valuation or Unicorn in Bangladesh by 2025. The current Startup ecosystem of the country is valued at 1.45 billion with a potential to reach 10-billion-dollar valuation. These startups have created one hundred and fifty thousand jobs and seven hundred Indirect jobs currently. The vision envisions taking direct employment to 1 million and indirect employment to 5 million by 2025.
To mark the beginning of the countdown of Mujib Borsho, Startup World Cup 2020, Bangladesh is organized by Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ICT Division, Venture Capital & Private Equity Association of Bangladesh (VCPEAB), International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Powered by eGeneration. The event had Startup Bangladesh as strategic partner along with Singapore Venture Capital & Equity Association (SVCA), Annual Investment Meeting (AIM) - UAE, Bangladesh High-tech Park Authority, TiE Dhaka, EO, FNS Media, American Alumni Association, and Chakri Khujbo Na, Chakri Debo also as partners for the event. RTV is the media partner of the event. The platinum Sponsor of the event were Evaly in addition with Chaldal, SSL Wireless and Agrani Bank as Gold sponsors.
Mr. Shameem Ahsan, Chairman, Venture Capital and Private equity Association of Bangladesh (VCPEAB) and eGeneration and General Partner, Pegasus Tech Ventures presented the mission at the session titled “Venture Capital for Double Digit Growth” during the inauguration ceremony of Startup World Cup, 2020 grand finale event day held at the Radisson Blu Water Garden, Dhaka, in front of private sector adviser to prime minister. Along with the vision he has given 11 points recommendation to achieve the targets.
The proposals came with a Policy, Financing, Innovation, and Country Branding framework. Mr. Shameem emphasized that VC fund is usually an investment fund that comes with tax rebate facilities worldwide. The same can happen in Bangladesh along with policy reforms allowing provident funds, gratuity funds, and insurance companies to invest in alternative investment instruments like Venture Capital fund. There was also a proposal for policy reform for enabling fund of funds by banks and NBFIs.
In foreign countries there are fund of funds created by central banks for capital investment and similar fund of funds by local banks for providing working capital to growth stage companies. Capacity Development with BUET and IBA for Industry collaboration, Innovation led by the government sector, a Tech Board in Security Exchanges Like NASDAQ Country Branding through Global VC and PE Linkage with roadshows in Silicon Valley, London, Tokyo and Singapore, and a Startup World Cup, South Asia and Asia were proposed by Mr. Shameem in his keynote.
Gaze technologies has won the competition, who will go to the Silicon Valley to compete for the Champion title of Startup World Cup 2020 and the USD 1.0 million investment prize, after they won the regional finale of the competition in Bangladesh on Saturday. They will also get the opportunity to represent Bangladesh in Annual Investment Meeting in UAE. Gaze has built an intelligent video analytics software platform capable of fetching realtime insights from video feeds produced by CCTV cameras using technologies like face recognition, license plate recognition, vehicle re-identification, etc. “AlterYouth” and “Truck Lagbe” came in first and second runner up respectively with Poshapets and Cookups coming fourth and fifth All of these companies will go to silicon valley through support of ICT division.
Foreign Minister Dr. A K Abdul Momen MP said “We are celebrating Mujib Borsho this year and have taken a number of initiatives on this occasion including the startup sector. I think the startup sector will drive to establish Bangladesh as Sonar Bangla of Bangabandhu and help in establishing a Developed Bangladesh by 2041. We hope that by coordinating with the private sector that goal will be achieved. To accomplish this all necessary support will be provided to the private sector including the startups.”
Salman F Rahman, Private Industry and Investment Adviser to the Prime Minister said, “Government has been taking its own initiatives in the sector and there have been incentives given by government for the growth of this industry. We already have startups growing in the country with examples set by bKash, a billion-dollar unicorn. I welcome the vision and the objectives set here for the next 5 years for building an investment friendly startup ecosystem in Bangladesh.”
State Minister of ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak Said, “The government wants to create employers, not employers. We are creating a Startup Culture, Innovation Center to implement steps to reach that goal by Mujib Borsho. We are establishing Startup Bangladesh as a Limited Company and a $ 1 million support fund has been created for this sector. I wish the success of the startup representing Bangladesh in the final event of the Startup World Cup in USA.”
Foreign Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs Masud Bin Momen said, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is working to provide the assistance needed to take the country's startups to the international markets. We are building a link between domestic and foreign companies and developing required policies. We are delighted to be with the event. I wish this trend to continue in the future too.”
Anis Uzzaman, Chairman Startup World Cup, and General Partner, and CEO Pegasus Tech Ventures. presented the grand keynote at the Startup World Cup Grand FInale. He said, “Pegasus Tech Ventures is committed to invest in Bangladesh startup ecosystem as we have already invested in shohoj.com, ajker deal, Bagdoom, Handimama and Digicon to develop in Bangladesh. We will take the Bangladesh regional winner to Silicon Valley and mentor the team and enable them competing with the global competitors.”
Top 8 companies, who joined as finalists and took part in finale of the regional event, were selected down from more than 150 applicants. The finalists were: Alter Youth, Cookups, Gaze, Parking Koi, Poshapets, Sigmind.ai, Torun Digital, and Truck Lagbe in alphabetic order. The finalists pitched their business in front of live audience and jury in the finale gala held at the capital. The winner was selected by a panel of investor judges including James Tan, Managing Partner, Quest Ventures; Masa Isono, Principal, DEFTA Partners; Jenni Risku, Founder, Women in Tech Asia; and Ian Sikora, Director, Openspace Ventures with Shameem Ahsan as Moderator.