Fostering Entrepreneurship in Bangladesh: Innovation as a Response to Change
Change is constant. Freedom means change, and there is no better time to change than now. Sticking to the same values and dedication towards freedom, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) is reconstructing its strategy across the globe to fine-tune its messages and reinforce its campaign for freedom, amid threats to liberal values. FNF identifies itself as a creative innovative platform, because innovation is the most liberal response to change.
FNF’s four focal areas are the social market economy, education, the open and digital society, and international politics. With these four core areas, FNF is now trying to focus more on the theme, Digital Transformation. The FNF Head Office in Potsdam, Germany introduced a new independent wing called the ‘Global Themes Unit’, which will work as the incubator for liberal ideas in all things digital.
Get in the Ring (GITR) 2019 – Bangladesh National Final: Global Startup Competition was FNF Bangladesh’s first project under the 2019 annual theme “United Nations of Innovation”. The theme was to recognise the role of startups and startup tools as models for creativity and innovation and show how founders and entrepreneurs can represent as liberal change-makers, multipliers and network partners for liberal policy concepts.
GITR is a global startup competition, and our partner, Daffodil International University (DIU) holds the license to organize the national level of this competition in Bangladesh. Known as the ‘Olympics for Startups’, GITR is famous for its unique pitching format where a face-off between two startups is held. The battle between two teams consists of 5 brief rounds of 5 minutes – 30 seconds about the team, achievements, the business model, its finances, and freestyle. During the rounds, the two startups present their ideas to a jury of potential investors.
Following the press briefing with the announcement of conducting such a competition, FNF toured five divisions of Bangladesh – Khulna, Rajshahi, Dhaka, Chattogram, and Sylhet – to select best sixteen startup ideas across Bangladesh for the National Final in Dhaka. The sixteen teams came to Dhaka city for a three-day grooming session by the mentors at the permanent campus of DIU in Ashulia, Dhaka to prepare for the National Final.
At the National Final, the sixteen teams pitched their business ideas with prototypes of their products and services to potential investors. The winner of GITR 2019 Bangladesh National Final will participate in the Global Final of this competition in Ottawa, Canada in 2020.
Entrepreneurship 360! at United International University (UIU) was FNF Bangladesh’s second project under “United Nations of Innovation” funds for 2019. Dnet was a partner in implementing this project at United International University (UIU) for its students.
The goal was to encourage innovative business ideas and provide an incubator system to curate them in becoming sustainable and profitable ventures, and to disseminate knowledge on the landscape of doing business and business challenges for innovations and entrepreneurs. The project aims to create a network of young entrepreneurs and startups, business leaders, established ventures, and angel investors. A group of entrepreneurs and startups with innovative ideas will be provided a platform to learn how learn scaling-up their idea into a sustainable, profitable venture. They will share innovative ideas keeping in mind the knowledge regarding the landscape of doing business and business challenges in Bangladesh.
A half-day seminar was held to introduce the program in detail among the interested students willing to become future entrepreneurs and venture into startups.
Students registered into groups and signed for the program with their unique business ideas. These groups showed up for interview sessions and pitch their initial business ideas. The selected best ten ideas and the ten teams joined the two-day Hackathon program in their university premises to fine-tune their business ideas into concrete business plans. The teams were ready to pitch their final business ideas with prototypes of their products and services in the final round or the Grand Finale after 48 hours of Hackathon.
The top three teams with the best business plans won cash prizes, along with 3-month mentorship program by Dnet. The winning team will also receive 3-month incubation program along with office space at Dnet to scale up their business. The incubation and mentorship of the champion, first runner up and second runner up teams have already started at the Dnet office since January 2020.
Md Omar Mostafiz completed his undergraduate studies in Bachelor of Business Administration with a double major in Marketing and Human Resource Management. Worked in the corporate sector in the early years of his career, but he then shifted his career in the development sector and joined the foundation because he believes in the idea of freedom and liberal concepts.