Most of the young people of the current generation in Bangladesh want to make a secure career and accordingly, they are showing little interest in becoming entrepreneurs. The country's gross domestic product (GDP) is showing a 'jobless' growth mainly because the number of new enterprises that could have created many jobs is not high.
We have nearly eight (08) million micro, cottage and small entrepreneurs, a figure which seems to be decent. But we have a population size of more than 160 million! A frustrating part of the story is that Bangladesh's position is the 134rd in Global Entrepreneurship Index 2018 among 137 countries.
Various studies suggest most of the potential entrepreneurs cannot start a business due to fund crisis. While they are not in a position to take financial risks, the youth face a number of challenges for starting a business venture. Family members and people close to them also cannot offer financing in view of the risks. Taking a loan from a financial institution is not easy either and even if some of them manage to get it, the interest rate of more than 10 per cent would make it a big burden for them soon.
When they face a series of obstacles before starting a business, most of them feel discouraged about carrying forward the initiative that an entrepreneur needs to. There is hardly any formal and informal support for startups while our society does not accept failure in one's entrepreneurship drive. When they fail to cope with the first challenge, they give up, in most cases.
Moreover, there are social stigmas about the initial status of entrepreneurs that stop many from thinking about taking such initiative. Unfortunately, many people in our society want to see the youth to grow as "educated slaves", as if highly educated people cannot do business. Also, prospective male entrepreneurs are compelled to choose a job for persuading his future in laws.
Our legal system is also not helpful for small companies so that they can compete with existing players, especially big businesses. We are yet to find a legal regime which would encourage a healthy competition for the sake of business growth and also for benefit of consumers.
For a young entrepreneur, securing a trade license paying the required fees and additional money remain a challenge, Small businesspeople are not also free from various hassles including extortion that makes it difficult for them to do business in a cost-effective manner.
The new entrepreneurs also suffer for lack of information sources and expertise to make business plans. They are often cheated by the groups linked to the relevant business.
Of course, an entrepreneur immediately faces the problem of dearth of skilled workforce that could contribute to making the business viable with higher production and productivity. The crisis of quality manpower has now been a national crisis. However, if new entrepreneurs are provided with support for building manpower, more sound jobs would be ensured alongside business growth.
So, this is high time the country created a sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem for the youth. It is encouraging to note that the government has taken an initiative for providing "Start-up Fund" for new entrepreneur. Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) has launched a 'game-changing' training to create entrepreneurs, as 25 youth would go through the process in each district every month. This project aims to create 24,000 entrepreneurs across the country by 2020.
We think, more organisations and business associations should come forward to support and monitor entrepreneurship development initiatives, generating and sharing sufficient knowledge to inspire youth like business graduates to embrace entrepreneurship as a career.
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