Bangladesh needs to rebrand itself to attract more investors


Opportunities and challenges

TV24 Desk: Additionally, Bangladesh doesn’t just have the local talent, but it now has government support as well with the launch of a fund to support startups.

“If given the opportunity, I do think that talent over here can rise up and take on new challenges,” he noted.

But as a homegrown entrepreneur, Elius finds that there’s still room for improvement. For instance, he thinks that government hasn’t done a good job of marketing Bangladesh as an investment destination. “Every time I meet an investor, […] I have to explain the Bangladesh [market] to people.” This also makes it more difficult to raise money from investors as startups have to spend 20 to 30 minutes to point out the country’s potential.

Meanwhile, local talent is still underdeveloped. There aren’t a lot of people who understand matters like data science and machine learning or know how to build scalable tech startups.

“The problem is less severe now in 2020 than it was in 2015, but it’s still there,” he said.

Surviving the pandemic

Launched in 2015, Pathao started as an on-demand services platform and later rolled out services such as ecommerce, two-wheeler ride-sharing, food delivery, grocery delivery, streaming, gaming, among others.

It currently has over 6 million registered users and offers 12 kinds of services, according to Elius.

As businesses around world began to feel the impact of Covid-19, Pathao started to take action in February, before Bangladesh went into a national lockdown.

In April, the company announced salary restructuring for all employees but without any layoffs, which helped extend its runway

Pathao also temporarily suspended its ride-sharing business amid the pandemic. To help its 300,000 drivers make a living, it launched its grocery and medicine delivery service within two weeks after it first came up with the idea. The company also partnered with several health organizations and launched Pathao Health, which allows doctors to give telehealth services to its users.

It also went ventured into digital services, where it formed partnerships with local streaming players and introduced games in its app.

“I don’t think we could have done it and survive if we did not have a strong culture beforehand,” said Elius. He added that companies should invest in building a strong culture and brand so when a crisis hits, they can reap the long-term benefits.Source:TECHINASIA


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