Quote: “I think everything in Bangladesh is defined by that D-word – density.”
In this episode of the Asia Tech Podcast, Michael Waitze is joined by Nirjhor Rahman, the CEO of Bangladesh Angels, the first angel investment network to help innovative startups connect with and gain smart capital. As the country’s first investment network, Bangladesh Angels’ mission is to nurture and foster innovation and entrepreneurship in Bangladesh.
They discussed Bangladesh’s ecosystem, the rapid growth of technology, the digital literacy within the country, Nirjhor’s global journey that led him back home, and how his interests in startups emerged.
“I think everything in Bangladesh is defined by that D-word – density,” said Nirjhor.
It’s well known that Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, but it is also one of the fastest-growing economies – which is what Nirjhor fell in love with.
“I fell in love with how far the country came, despite its turbulent beginning,” he reflected.
He explained that although Bangladesh has an incredibly dense population, most of that population are young adults, so not only is it an incredibly young country from a formation standpoint but also density wise. With its young density, rapidly growing technology penetration – as well as mobile penetration – and the rising and cultural digital literacy, Bangladesh was home to immense opportunities and potential.
Long Way Home
“I could either be a world traveler for the rest of my life or try to go back to my home country and try to connect my two worlds,” explained Nirjhor.
Although Nirjhor was born in Bangladesh, he left when he was just 3 years old and spent his childhood in Kyoto, Japan. After which he moved and spent his adolescent years in the United States where he started working in consulting to only find out he didn’t like it.
He explained that as a suburban kid, he had always had dreams of becoming a globetrotter. However, after living abroad in multiple places he decided he would try to return home and connect the worlds he had previously experienced.
The expat life had been exciting and eye-opening for Nirjhor, but going back home was a completely different challenge he had not experienced before. “I messed up a lot, I made a lot of mistakes but I learnt a lot along the way,” he revealed.
He goes on to share further insights and his experiences regarding his journey home and the project he worked on to commercialise new technologies in urban sanitation before he began his startup adventure.
The Big Leap
Bangladesh is a country that’s often associated with struggle and hardship, however, it has recently experienced great economic growth within the last few years. That being said, launching a startup in Bangladesh does come with a few challenges.
Nirjhor details the main challenges for startups, such as the lack of startup-friendly instruments that are permissible in the market, give a higher-level view of the angel ecosystem within the country, and his own approach when trying to build bridges and form connectivity.
To learn more about Nirjhor Rahman and his insight on the startup ecosystem, listen to this episode of the Asia Tech Podcast today.