Explosive Online Growth
With the advent of fast 4G internet connections, online business in Bangladesh is booming. With 40% of Bangladesh’s population of 165 million now online, digital businesses are growing much faster than the rest of the economy.
Presently, some 50,000 Bangladeshis earn their money with e-Commerce. According to expert projections, this number will hit the one million-mark in the next ten years.
“Bangladesh’s greatest resource are her entrepreneurs, they are the key to unlocking the potential of e-Commerce, underneath all the red tape and poor business infrastructure”, says Omar Mostafiz, Program Executive at the Dhaka Office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) and the man behind the innovative push in our project work.
The potential is huge: Experts estimate the size of the e-Commerce market in Bangladesh at US Dollars 100-115 million. Seen in perspective, online deals still only contribute a mere 0.7% to the country’s retail market.
The Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) kicked off a program aimed at promoting media literacy for potential e-Commerce entrepreneurs in 2017 together with Daffodil International University (DIU). The program has attracted a big number of business students as well as young entrepreneurs from startups and SMEs. “These are the people we want to work with; we believe they belong to the most dynamic sectors of our society”, says Mr. Mostafiz.
Fair and Curriculum
Following the initial success, FNF Bangladesh is continuing and enhancing the e-Commerce project this year. “Issues relating to Ground Rules of e-Commerce” was the topic of a recent workshop in Dhaka where experts from established and successful e-retailers engaged with the students and shared their knowledge. Among the topics discussed were taxation, intellectual property rights, international trade, commercial law and standards, dispute resolution, new or modified rules and standards governing e-Commerce, to name but a few.
To give the project additional exposure, DIU and FNF Bangladesh are working on plans to organize an e-Commerce Fair. In addition to this, the Foundation is supporting DIU in developing an academic curriculum for a course on e-Commerce which will soon be taught at the university.
Sooner or later the graduates of these programs are bound to join a growing and increasingly competitive market. Still, there is much room for improvement. Today, Bangladesh stands at the fourth place in e-Commerce adoption among South Asian countries. The main factor holding the online business back is relatively low internet penetration, says Mr. Mostafiz. But things are changing in the right direction, he says: “Bangladesh’s e-Commerce will see explosive growth in the coming years”.