Young entrepreneurs yesterday demanded collateral-free loans at a single-digit interest rate so that they can run their businesses smoothly.
“If women entrepreneurs can get collateral-free loans at simple interest rates -- why not us? We are the next generation,” said Shakhawat Hossain Mamun, president of Junior Chamber International (JCI), Bangladesh.
“The government should patronise the young entrepreneurs by identifying them at the district and upzila levels,” he said, addressing a seminar on 'budget perspectives of young entrepreneurs'.
The standing committee on youth entrepreneurship development of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry organised the seminar, which was moderated by Amzad Hossain, chairman of the standing committee. Mamun also urged the government to engage the young entrepreneurs while preparing the budget proposals. “The youth account for one fourth of the population, but the government never discusses the issues with us prior to budget preparation.”
FBCCI Director Harun-Ur-Rashid also proposed the government arrange loans for young entrepreneurs at an interest rate of 7 percent and provide a 10-year tax holiday.
Discussants said if they get the benefits, they would contribute to the country's economic development through industrialisation.
In response to the demands, Shahriar Alam, state minister for foreign affairs, asked JCI and FBCCI to come up with a set of recommendations so that he can request the relevant ministries to consider those.
Bangladesh is one the few countries in the world that maintained more than 6 percent economic growth over the last seven years despite many challenges including political instability and natural calamities, said the state minister.
Presenting a keynote paper at the seminar, Towfiqul Islam Khan, research fellow of Centre for Policy Dialogue, said there is a need for more proactive involvement of the youth in national policymaking.
“It's important to establish a platform where the views of the future generation on issues of national importance are voiced and heard.”
Referring to CPD's discussion with young professionals recently, he said participants felt that sectors like ICT, fashion and design in production processes, and e-commerce based activities where young people have an interest and advantage, should receive incentives and budgetary support.