Md. Joynal Abdin with symbolic name M.J.A KHAN
The Financial Express on February 26, 2011
The actual number of population who live in Bangladesh today is a debatable figure. But it is not at all debatable that Bangladesh is one of the over most populated countries of the world. The growth trend about population makes it all too clear that we are becoming the most dangerously densely populated country soon, if the rate of increase is not reversed. Every year two million educated young men and women are coming to the job market. It is nearly impossible to absorb this active workforce in the existing job market either in public or in private sector.
We are not giving any serious thought about creating adequate job opportunities for this new educated workforce in time. Our unemployment rate is increasing and a vast army of frustrated Youngman is swelling in its size. A good number of such unemployed youths are getting them involved in different kinds of activities in the ‘crime world’ or are being used in overt or covert ways by various groups and creating social hazards.
In the coming days, this problem would worsen further and the government – whosoever remains in power — will face a very serious threat to integrate them into the normal social life. Time is running out to mobilize this huge unemployed educated workforce in particular in productive activities. It is not expected that every one of them will serve as a civil servant or an executive in any private establishment. Proper planning has to be made to motivate people in self-employment through small entrepreneurial initiatives. Until now, there is no proper institute in Bangladesh to help develop entrepreneurship. The government needs to actively think about establishing such institutions, by further streamlining and expanding the existing facilities for technical and vocational education.
Indeed, technical and vocational education facilities need to be strengthened to produce skill labor, instead of producing a large number of so-called educated people in general line. We are not pleading here for neglecting any faculty of education but we are just emphasizing the need for entrepreneurship development studies in particular. Through the latter type of facilities, graduates will come out of higher seals of learning to become entrepreneurs.
Thinking with realistic business ideas can be the first step to becoming an entrepreneur. Selecting a suitable business idea to move forward with entrepreneurial efforts is important. We know that it is easy to say this but if is difficult to do that. But what is the harm if we can show a list of business ideas to the unemployed graduates who know that a single job-seeker, out of several thousands that come out of universities with “high” degrees in general and other lines, that may be motivated and take the initiative to start a small business and achieve success as a self-employed entrepreneur? It we, can do thus, we will largely be able to reduce the number of jobseekers and guide the nation towards a better future.
A short list of business ideas can be noted below:
1. Establishing a poultry hatchery: Bangladesh is lagging behind many other comparable developing countries, in terms of per capita protein production. Most poultry items are still outside the reach of the majority of the families in their daily curry list. Establishing small hatchery with Taka 0.2 million (two lakh) investments may help employ one graduate, along with another unskilled labour, to produce one thousand hens or ducks per month. A hatching machine is not so expensive in today’s market. Of course, the non-availability of uninterrupted electricity supplies is one of the major constraints here. But we can overcome such problems it we really try hard. Only collecting eggs and hatching the same for selling them as little hens or ducks, may be one type of business. Broiler firms can be the second, and the layer firms, the third option here. The marketing opportunities are enormous and there is also a large scope to export such items as well.
2. Establishing a dairy firm: A small dairy initiative can be started with three to five cows only. Selling milk is easier in the market in Bangladesh. Whether it is a village or a town, the demand for pure milk is strong, far in excess of existing supply capacities. So it can be a lucrative option to ensure a better livelihood to two to five people through the income earned from an average-sized dairy firm. Initial investment in this sector is also within the reach of average people and it is obviously lower than what is needed to send a son to the Middle East as a laborer. It may take only Taka 0.2 million – Taka 0.3 million to start a small dairy firm, owning three to five cows.
3. Fishing hatchery: One village pond can help generate an annual income of about Taka 0.25 million, if proper management and care can be ensured. Establishing a small hatchery may not take more than Taka 0.5 million for investment which can offer a monthly income of Taka 30 – 50 thousand to an unemployed young man. Being a local agent of a company: There are many companies in Bangladesh which do not have proper distribution outlets around the country.
4. Being a local agent of a company at the upzilla level can be a profitable business. For this, only a small van or auto van can be the prime carrier and a person can be employed to distribute the products in the surrounding markets.
5. Establishing showroom: Establishing a showroom of any company at upzilla level or in a sub-urban area can be yet another way for becoming an entrepreneur by investing an amount of Taka 0.3 million – Taka 0.5 million. It may be a single company showroom or multi-company showroom of electronics, consumer items or even bakery products. One educated young man, along with three to five working assistants or labourers, can be employed in that showroom.
6. Establishing a channel of distribution: Companies can take the initiative for operationalising commission-based agreements to distribute their products effectively at low cost by using a local distributor group. A graduate can organize five vans and engage them to distribute products in the local market. This distribution channel can sign agreements with various companies to serve as a local channel of distributors on thier behalf and distribute their products in time.
7. Establishing a school: A small primary school can help absorb five graduates to educate children and to earn their livelihood. Of course, a suitable place for setting up a primary school has to be selected and initially an amount of Taka 0.2 million – Taka 0.5 million has to be invested to procure necessary tools and instrument.
8. A retail shop with membership card: A departmental shop, having a membership card arrangement, can be a successful model for entrepreneurship on the part of a graduate. Every grocery item will be available there and members can buy such items at the wholesale rate from this shop. Home service may be offered at a nominal charge. Online order placement facility with payment system can be an additional feature of such a kind of shops.
9. Real state company at village level: Bangladesh is a very small but heavily densely populated country. Its cultivable land is reducing every year due to building of houses for an increasing number of families. If this trend continues, then after fifty to one hundred years, land for cultivation would become acutely scarce. This is time now to come up with the idea of forming real-estate enterprises in villages, where multi-storied building can be built and distributed among the stakeholders. Establishing a real-state company needs large scale investment but formation of effective associations provides here a sustainable solution to overcome this problem.
10. Producing handicraft: Ten (10) village women can be organized initially and trained up for one week to produce five handicraft items and selling those at a single store. This can be a very profitable business in any locality. Handicraft has a very potential export market with a promising local market, too. A group of families can be the beneficiaries of such an initiative.
11. Boutiques & fashion design: Block, boutique, embroidery and carchopee items can be made in a small factory to serve a chain of shops. Or sales in a show-room can be another way to establish a small business in any urban or suburban area or even for a village market.
12. A fitness centre: As people are becoming very much busy with their materialistic pursuits, the scope for physical work is reducing. As a result, obeisity is becoming a problem with many people. Demand for fitness centers is increasing. Establishing a modern fitness center can be one of the sustainable ways for becoming a successful entrepreneur. A chain of fitness centres at different locations of a city or different towns of the country may be a brand of fitness centre.
13. Establishing a software development firm: Website and software development may be a good entrepreneurial initiative for a software graduate. Local demand for software is increasing and it has an export market, too.
14. Procurement houses: Procuring crops in the peak season for selling the same in off the season may be one good way of doing business. For example, procuring rice, potato, tomato etc., during their peak season and selling those in the off-season, after three or four months, may be a profitable business for a graduate.
15. Cable TV & Broadband internet: Providing cable TV connections or broadband internet connections to the members of the community can be a profitable business for an unemployed graduate.
16. Internet Café: Establishing an internet café may be a promising way for earning one’s livelihood, instead of queuing up for jobs. VOIP services are value added products for an internet café.
17. Community-based FM radio: Starting community-based FM radio station broadcasting may provide self-employment opportunities for a group of engineering students.
18. Service centers: Establishing a service center for trouble-shooting of TV sets, computer instruments, refrigerators, air conditioners, wovens, blenders household appliances etc., can open up opportunities for self-employment opportunities for the diploma engineers.
19. Home-service laundry: There is a continuous growing market for branded chain laundry in Bangladesh. As such, a modern home-service laundry provides be the best opportunities for employment creation among groups of workable manpower.
20. Voice-activated keys: Producing and installing voice-activated keys may be a successful way of doing business.
21. Day-care centers: Establishing day-care centers for minor children and the aged may be a new business concept in Bangladesh. Mainly the metropolitan cities are lucrative places for establishing such centres.
22. House-rent information centers: The maximum number of city dwellers are living in houses/apartments on a monthly on rental basis. Many people search for rented apartments or houses every month. It is a very tough job to search an affordable apartment or house for the service-holders, particularly of the couple-types. House-or apartment-owners face also problems in making arrangements for renting out their premises to suitable persons. Both who look for hiring apartments or houses and renting out their premises will find it easier to get their jobs done, with the services provided by related information centres at a minimum charge. A membership system may be introduced for rent-seekers and owners of premises for the match-making purpose.
23. Feasibility study centres: There is a good scope good possibility for establishing feasibility study centers in Bangladesh. Such centers may conduct feasibility studies of new products; new businesses etc., and provide business plans to the prospective entrepreneurs which are essential to get bank loans.
24. Call centers: Establishing a call center can become an attractive business in Bangladesh. It is not necessary that all call centres would serve the foreign companies. Days are coming when many Bangladeshi companies will outsource call center services to serve their local customers.
25. Commercial Cleaning Centers: Commercial cleaning may be a good business in Bangladesh. The centers, catering to the demand in this field, can wash cars, and carpets, and clean apartments commercially. They can offer cleaning services also to corporate customers.
26. Animal health clinics: Clinics for domestic animals are emerging as a demand-based business opportunity in the country. Such clinics can offer services to both individual and corporate clients.
27. Franchise shops: Having a franchise show-room of a reputed company at district or upzilla level may be a source of good business for newly graduated students.
28. Beauty parlors: Establishing a beauty parlor is also a profitable business for a female graduate. It will cost Taka 0.1-0.2 million as initial investments and there is a growing market for its services in any town in Bangladesh.
29. Relocation of service centers: Every month increasing numbers of families are relocating their households to different parts of towns. Relocating furniture and fixture safely from one place to another may become a professional service in the near future.
30. Tax preparation service centers: Preparation of tax-related documents can be a promising area for providing professional services by the law graduates.
Besides the afore-mentioned areas, many more business ideas can come up for widening the scope for self-employment opportunities in the context of to-day’s vastly changing socio-economic realities in Bangladesh. But we must remember one thing: Business is not suitable for people of all backgrounds. So identifying the most suitable business proposition for implementation is important and this has to be done by analysing the background of an individual, the society, investment ability and even mental make-up of concerned persons.
Establishing specialized training centers to develop new entrepreneurs may also be a successful business idea. Our academic curricula may add a feature in this context so that more people are inspired to become entrepreneurs rather than swelling the ranks of job-seekers. In this way, we may achieve the goal of having a self-employed generation well placed to shoulder their responsibilities and, thus, build a self-reliant Bangladesh in order to ensure sustained growth of the national economy.