Startup-university partnership: An effective way to ensure more participation of youth in Bangladesh

Publish: 7:39 PM, June 12, 2021 | Update: 7:39:PM, June 12, 2021

DHAKA, – As there is no denying the fact that the internet has paved the way for hundreds of startups to rise over the past years in Bangladesh, the country should increase the partnership and collaboration of startup-university to ensure more participation of youth in Bangladesh’s startup scene for achieving the development goals.

Sharing such a view, a Bangladesh born startup in Britain has said Bangladesh’s great zeal for technology and internet can help it attain Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and Vision-2041.

The startup mentioned that if done right, this would invite more of Bangladesh’s youth to join the already existing pool of startups while encouraging others to pursue their own dreams of launching startups and this would incite a healthy competition among the young minds today and train them to be better professionals for tomorrow.

It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that Bangladeshi youths can bring about unprecedented changes in the global business landscape as the growth of startups has attracted more international investors and boosted their confidence towards Bangladesh.

Talking to BSS, Shadman Sakib, founder, chairman and CEO of WhadaTime, said as one of the fastest growing economies in the world, Bangladesh is nothing short of a land of opportunities.

“The idea of startups is a relatively new concept in our country, perhaps not even going back a full decade into the past. Given the opportunity, a fresh university graduate will choose an old and established company over an up-and-coming startup to work for,” he opined.

He said while the prestige of working at a big corporation should not be undervalued, overlooking the benefits of working at a startup would also be a mistake.

“Sure, big corporations provide better financial benefits but in more cases than not, they have a strict hierarchy and a system of bureaucracy within the organization that causes the young and curious mind to become just another cog in the big and well-oiled business machine. And it’s not like the big corporations do this intentionally either, they are big entities with thousands of employees that can significantly impact the national economy with their decisions and thus are, themselves, another cog in the well-oiled machine that is the country’s economy as a whole,” he added.

As a contrast, he said, startups are more flat with their organograms and each member needs to take up the responsibilities of multiple traditional roles and has a degree of autonomy and freedom that cannot be compared to the bigger organizations at any level of the hierarchy.

“This creates an environment ripe for learning and exploring to gain first-hand experience of what works and what does not. An environment that is less bound by rules and bureaucracies and more by the individual’s imagination; an environment that can, itself, benefit from the unorthodox thinking a young mind, more often than not, brings to the table. The sad reality is this contrast is very difficult to notice from the young mind’s perspective without having stepped on both grounds first,” he added.

He said with over one third of Bangladeshi being below the age of 35, an age group that more or less grew up with the internet and its slew of social media platforms, and with over 53 million smartphone users, just behind the United Kingdom, Bangladesh presents a huge opportunity for data mining for AI systems to augment our ever expanding digital lives.

Bangladesh is among the fastest growing economies in the world and with it comes convenience from technological advancements. This has become especially apparent during the COVID lockdowns when many retail shops started to perform home delivery services from their websites so that people don’t need to risk a COVID infection to visit physical retail outlets.

This is an area which can hugely benefit from AI augmentation. Just by looking at the data, the AI can understand the type of products someone might be looking for and give recommendations based on that. This is just one of the many examples of how AI can enrich our lives in the age of digital Bangladesh.