Focus Group Discussion on “Youth Entrepreneurship: The Engine for Growth”

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CRI today organized a Focus Group Discussion (FGD) as a preparatory step for the “Policy Café” to be held on 3rd July, 2014 on the topic of “Youth Entrepreneurship: The Engine for Growth”. Around 20 participants took part in a lively group discussion to streamline the issues which would be highlighted in the upcoming Policy Café with Sajeeb Wazed, the IT Adviser to the Honourable Prime Minister of Bangladesh.
The participants included a mix of established yet young business personalities, starters and those seeking to start an enterprise of their own in the near future. They included a cross section of society with some working in the IT industry to those working in landscape design and agro-based sectors. After being briefed by CRI as to what the session entails, the floor was made open to the participants to address their concerns, raise queries and make suggestions.
The questions, queries and suggestions primarily fell within four categories:
1. Rules or regulatory framework; Policy investment: The issues which came up for discussion during this part of the session included:

a) Digital Advertising (Online marketing): Some stated that there should be a government policy for recording and archiving IP Locations, so that local and regional young entrepreneurs can target their marketing strategies and priorities;

b) Policy for urban gardening and beautification and how that can prop up young entrepreneurs if and when formulated;

c) Intellectual property rights (Patent Act): Reform of Patent Act and signing the international treat on patent;

d) Organic fertilizer: Difficulties in licensing;

e) Do we have a government approved specific policy for young entrepreneurs in general and at large? If not, why don’t we?

f) Getting more duty free access for products from Bangladesh especially those which are in demand abroad (E.g. organic fertilizer in India)

2. Start up investment and platform for young entrepreneurs: Discussion on this topic brought to the fore matters like: Setting up a knowledge centre or a research and development (R&D) centre which assists starters or young entrepreneurs explore their ideas overcoming the barriers; having a one stop service for NRBs and expatriates to encourage young entrepreneurs from abroad of Bangladeshi origin.

Other issues included: how to access data on markets, products etc. Young entrepreneurs need information, data etc for starting business. However, that is absent currently. Can something be done on a moderate scale for young entrepreneurs whereby budding business people can access all necessary trade, commerce related information. Lastly, speakers pointed out the problem of funds and finance. Participants were unanimous in demanding easier scope for startup investment. They suggested about soft loans for starters and young entrepreneurs with manageable limits of interest.

3. International market access+ Local market access and value chain: Discussion on this topic raised issues such as: setting up display centres to highlight products/services of young entrepreneurs; how do we make our local brands go international; role of e-commerce; connecting young entrepreneurs with Bangladesh embassies abroad (e.g. the resident trade officers) and other relevant bodies like the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).

4. Inclusive growth: The last segment of the session dealt with the subject of how the young entrepreneurs could give back something to the society while pursuing their business and commercial interests. The participants discussed how their activities could be designed to not only benefit them or their trade but also the society at large and especially those sections who are at the bottom of the financial pyramid.
After the Focus Group Discussion came to an end, the participants were served with Iftaar. Despite the fact that most of the participants were fasting during the Holy Month of Ramadan, nonetheless, there was no shortage of interest and enthusiasm from them, making the session a lively and fruitful one. All of them left looking forward to the main event on 3rd July with Sajeeb Wazed and expressed their hope that the upcoming event would serve as a much needed bridge between policy makers and young entrepreneurs of Bangladesh.

Date and Time: 1st July, 2014 (4.00 pm)
Platter, House # 108, Road # 3, Block F, Banani, Dhaka

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