The Asia Tech Podcast spoke with Bijon Islam, the CEO at LightCastle Partners in Dhaka, Bangladesh. LightCastle Partners focuses on creating data-driven opportunities for growth and impact for Development Partners, Corporates, SMEs, and Startups. Since its founding, LightCastle has engaged across 130+ businesses/development partners, 400+ SMEs/Startups, and 30+ accelerator programs in multiple industries including Technology, Agriculture, Health, Energy, and Manufacturing. LightCastle has also helped to launch a Smart Capital Investment Program which facilitates growth capital for SMEs/Startups. This is an incredibly knowledgeable and experienced team.
Bijon did a deep dive into what makes the startup ecosystem in Bangladesh so compelling and vibrant, beginning with the overall Bangladeshi economy. The population of Bangladesh is large (approximately 164 MM), young (More than 62% of the population is under 35.), and blessed with high density (1,200 people per SQR KM). The middles class is growing at 10% annually and should account for 35MM people by 2025. Over 100 MM people have internet connectivity with 94 MM mobile internet connections.
Supplementing the population size and density and the high levels of internet and mobile penetration are at least three other strong reasons why the startup ecosystem is poised for growth in Bangladesh. Bijon goes into detail about Bangladesh’s demographic bulge and how it is creating a powerful entrepreneurial wave. He points to what he believes is an inflection point from an investment standpoint, as more than $200 MM from international investors has poured into the country in the past 4 years. Finally, we discussed how the Government of Bangladesh is following through on the policies it began deploying in 2009 to make ‘Digital Bangladesh’ a reality.
COVID-19 has only accelerated the use of technology across the digital landscape. While both the traditional economy and startups have seen business stoppages and significant revenue drops, the disruption is also propelling a quickening pace of adoption in Digital Financial Services, Logistics, and Grocery on-demand, EdTech, and HealthTech.
If you really wanted to understand the startup ecosystem in Bangladesh, you must listen to this episode of the Asia Tech Podcast. We would also recommend that you listen to Nirjhor Rahman‘s episode and download LightCastle’s Annual Business Confidence Index Report.