Md. Joynal Abdin
The Financial Express on 10 January 2015
Bangladesh is one of the most potential least developed countries (LDC) with its total GDP (gross domestic product) hovering around US$ 140 billions. GDP growth rate per year was about 5.5 – 6.5 per cent during the last decade. Contribution of Agriculture to GDP is decreasing day by day with contribution from industry and service sectors increasing. The country is going through a transformation phase from agro-based to industrial economy. Current annual per capita income is about US$ 1190. The government is working to transform country to a middle income country by the year 2021.
The population of Bangladesh is 157.8 millions. About 31.5 per cent of this population live below poverty line. There are 1.8 millions unemployed or under-employed people in Bangladesh. About 2.0 millions enter job market every year. Therefore, it is a major challenge for the government to provide employment to this large number of job seekers. It is impossible to accommodate such a huge number in public sector jobs. Private sector can play an important role in generating employment opportunities for them, if favourable environment is ensured. Government could play the role of facilitator and assist the private sector by creating and maintaining a congenial business environment. Maximum employment generation will allow us to reach maximum level of poverty reduction.
It is time the government should be pragmatic and initiate necessary action to remove all political complications and create a congenial business environment. No development action plan could be properly materialised in a chaotic political environment. The government has an important role in creating, maintaining and promoting a congenial environment and assisting general people to be entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship development will have a multidimensional impact in employment generation, GDP growth, increasing export earnings, reducing imports, industrialisation and finally poverty alleviation. Creating a favourable fiscal policy, tariff structure, customs policy, industrial policy, export and import policies etc. are the primary means for the government to facilitate employment generation.
Many non-resident Bangladeshis (NRBs) have come back and would like to do something on their own here instead of going back abroad again. They have limited money, but more limited business ideas. Having realistic business idea can be the first step for becoming an entrepreneur. In fact business ideas are aplenty. It is not possible to elaborate all business ideas in the space of a single article. Descriptions of a few such ideas are given below:
- Poultry hatchery: Bangladesh is lagging behind compared to other developing countries in terms of per capita protein production. Most poultry items are still outside the reach of the majority of families. Establishing a small hatchey farm with an investment of Taka 0.2 million can produce one thousand hens or ducks per month and help employ one graduate and an unskilled labour. A hatching machine is not very expensive, but electricity supply is a constraint.
- Dairy farm: A small dairy farm 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 there far in excess of existing supply capacities. So an average-sized dairy farm can be a lucrative venture for two to five people. Initial investment in this venture is also within the reach of average people and is lower than the amount required to send somebody to the Middle East. It may take only Taka 0.2 million to Taka 0.3 million to start a small dairy farm with three to five cows.
- Fish hatchery: It can be set up in a village pond with an investment of half a million Taka and can help generate an annual income of about a quarter of a million.
- Becoming a local agent of a company: There are many companies in Bangladesh which do not have proper distribution outlets around the country. Being a local agent of such company at the upzila level can be a profitable business. For this, only a small carrier (van or auto van) and a person are required to distribute the products in surrounding markets.
- Establishing a showroom: Establishing a showroom of any company at upazila 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 to 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.
- Establishing a distribution company: Such companies will have commission-based agreements to distribute products effectively at low cost by using a local distributor group. A graduate can organise five vans and engage them to distribute products in the local market.
- Real estate company: Bangladesh is a very small but densely populated country. Its cultivable land is decreasing every year due to building of houses for an increasing number of families. This is the time to form real-estate enterprises in villages. Establishing a real-state company needs large scale investment which can be managed by forming associations.
- Handicraft: Ten rural women can be organised 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 too.
- Fitness centres: As people are becoming over-occupied with materialistic pursuits, scope for physical work is diminishing. As a result, obesity is becoming a problem with many people. Demand for fitness centres is increasing. A modern fitness centre can be an attractive venture.
- Software development: 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.
- Warehouse: Procuring crops in the peak season and selling the same in off-season is an age-old business in Bangladesh. Therefore, procuring and storing of rice, potato, tomato etc., during their peak season and selling those in the off-season, after three or four months, can be a profitable business for a graduate.
- Cable TV and broadband internet: Providing cable TV or broadband internet connections to the members of the community can be a profitable business for an unemployed graduate.
- Internet café: Establishing an internet café may be a promising way for earning one’s livelihood. VOIP services are value-added products for an internet café.
- Repairing centres: Setting up a service centre for TV sets, computers, refrigerators, air conditioners, oven, blenders and household appliances etc., can open up self-employment opportunities for the diploma engineers.
- Home-service laundry: There is a growing market for laundry services in the country. A modern home-service laundry provides a good opportunity for self-employment.
- Day-care centres: Establishing day-care centres for minor children and the aged may be a new concept, but in view of increasing number of working mothers, the demand for such centres is growing. Metropolitan cities are lucrative spots for setting up such centres.
- House-rent information centres: Millions of city-dwellers live in rented houses/apartments. It is difficult to locate an affordable apartment or a house for the service- holders. People who look for apartment/apartment or rent, will find it easier with the services provided by an information centres at a minimum charge. A membership system may be introduced for rent-seekers and owners of premises.
- Business service centre: There is a good scope for business service centres in Bangladesh. Such centres may conduct feasibility studies of new products and businesses, preparing project profiles, prepare income tax documents; collecting trade licenses, TIN certificate, VAT registration certificates, import-export license etc. in favour of the clients.
- Cleaning service: Com-mercial cleaning can be a good business in Bangladesh. The centres can cater to the demand of washing cars and carpets, and cleaning apartments. They can also offer cleaning services to corporate customers.
- 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.
- Beauty parlours: Estab-lishing a beauty parlour is also a profitable business for a female graduate. It will cost Taka 0.1-0.2 million as initial investment and there is a growing demand for its services in any town of Bangladesh.
- Online business/e-commerce service centre: There could be a business service centre that will provide online business services like online share trading, online selling products, online bill payment, online payment against purchase, receiving accounts receivable online etc. Customers could be charged 1-3 per cent per transaction based on the nature of transaction.
Apart from the afore-mentioned areas, there are many more business ideas for widening the scope of self-employment opportunities. But identifying the most suitable business according to someone’s ability, social position and economic condition is important. Entrepreneurship development could be the best way for Bangladesh to generate employment, increase GDP growth and alleviate poverty within the shortest possible time.