Successful businesses fuel economic growth

Entrepreneurs have played an important role in developing the economy of Bangladesh in the last five decades, said the International Chamber of Commerce-Bangladesh (ICCB).

In its editorial of the news bulletin for the July-September period, the chamber says businesses are the driving force for any economy.

“Success of businesses can drive the growth of a country, help achieve overall sustainable development and create employment opportunities.”

“Entrepreneurs are frequently thought of as national assets to be cultivated, motivated and remunerated to the greatest possible extent.”

According to the editorial, over the past five decades, Bangladesh has transformed itself from being a “Basket Case” to one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.

Before the onset of Covid-19, the economy was growing rapidly, recording an annual expansion in the range of 7-8 per cent.

However, after the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, then East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, was not an ideal place for entrepreneurs to do business or establish industries as West Pakistanis were in complete control of the economy, the ICCB said.

Bangladeshis were mainly in the middle and lower-level service.

“Some of our leading businessmen have made it possible to show the world that Bangladeshis are capable of becoming successful entrepreneurs,” said the ICCB.

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Late Abul Kasem Khan from Chattogram, a district judge in 1934, was probably the first Bangladeshi to enter business leaving a job. He established various industries and formed A.K. Khan Group in 1945.

There were only a few business entities owned by local entrepreneurs in the British era. Of them, the oldest ones were the family business of late Anwar Hossain and late Latifur Rahman, also the founding chairman of Transcom Group.

From 1947 to Bangladesh’s independence in 1971, only a few small industries, tea gardens, two commercial banks and a small number of jute and textile mills were owned by Bangladeshis. After independence, all industries, banks and big commercial entities were nationalised.

The change in government policies in the middle of 1970s aimed at adopting privatisation, export liberalisation and import-substitution created the opportunity for enthusiastic business people to begin their entrepreneurial journey.

ICCB President and ETBL Holdings Chairman and CEO Mahbubur Rahman along with Transcom Group Chairman Latifur Rahman, Square Group Chairman Samson H Chowdhury, Anwar Group Chairman Anwar Hossain, Apex Group Chairman Syed Manzur Elahi and a few other business leaders contributed towards the change in government policies to promote privatisation.

In less than 40 years, the garment industry has emerged as one of the country’s success stories.

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A number of pharmaceutical companies have started exporting medicines to 119 developed and developing countries. The country also exports leather products, handicrafts, agro-products, ocean-going vessels, and software.

Bangladesh achieved the lower middle-income country status in 2015 and is on track to leave the United Nations’ list of the least-developed countries.

With a GDP of more than $305 billion, Bangladesh is currently the 41st largest economy globally. And the size of the economy could double in not too distant future, the chamber said. 

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