Huge potential exists in startup collaboration
India sees huge potential in collaborations with Bangladesh regarding fostering startups, especially those in the entertainment industry that produce films and music or provide streaming services.
"There is a unique opportunity for Bangladesh and India to work together in the startup sector, particularly to make cultural products and content," said Vikram Doraiswami, Indian high commissioner to Bangladesh.
"Since Bengali is an official language of both countries, these services could reach South Asian audiences all over the world," he added.
Doraiswami made these comments during the first of a six-episode webinar styled, "Shotoborsho Shotoasha-Rise Up", jointly organised by the Indian high commission in Dhaka, Startup Bangladesh, Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, and Startup India.
However, he went on to say that certain regulatory issues, especially in payment solutions, need to be addressed to facilitate any such collaboration.
For example, the roughly 2.8 million Bangladeshis that visited India each year during the pre-pandemic era faced a number of difficulties in conducting financial transactions.
"So, there needs to be payment gateway solutions that are low cost and credible," said the Indian envoy.
Zunaid Ahmed Palak, state minister for ICT, said a big chunk of the population in both countries were young, talented and tech-savvy.
India has developed its startup ecosystem to a great extent despite facing many challenges in the process, he said.
"Bangladesh has enjoyed growth in the sector as well but could still learn a lot from India's journey in order to avoid repeating the same mistakes," Palak added.
He also invited 50 Indian startups to visit Bangladesh and meet a matching number of their local counterparts and exchange views to facilitate further collaboration.
Similarly, Doraiswami reiterated Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's invitation for 50 Bangladeshi startups to visit India for the same reason.
During the webinar, various tech and financial analysts and entrepreneurs from India and Bangladesh shared their experiences, suggesting that while the private sector would be taking initiatives, the public sector should provide policy support.
Wasim Alim, co-founder of Chaldal, shared insights on how his e-commerce startup has scaled up over the years.
"The online consumer goods provider, which now employs about 2,600 people, played a critical role by serving its customers amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic," he said while thanking the government for providing support.
Tina Jabeen, chief executive officer (CEO) and managing director of Startup Bangladesh, and Bijon Islam, CEO of LightCastle Partners, moderated a session each.
Yamini Bhushan Pandey, CEO of the startup incubation and acceleration department at the Indian School of Business; Sharod Sharma, member of India's National Startup Council; and Rahat Ahmed, CEO of Anchorless, participated at the event.