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Wish you all a very Happy and Peaceful Eid-ul-Fitr. Eid Mubarak to all!!!

Celebrating the Power of Women! Happy International Women’s Day

At Startup Bangladesh Limited, we recognize the indispensable role that women play in shaping the future of innovation and entrepreneurship. As we celebrate this special day, join us in applauding the women who break barriers, challenge norms, and lead with passion.

Happy International Women’s Day

এবারের সংগ্রাম আমাদের মুক্তির সংগ্রাম, এবারের সংগ্রাম স্বাধীনতার সংগ্রাম

আন্তর্জাতিক মাতৃভাষা দিবসে সকল ভাষা শহীদদের প্রতি বিনম্র শ্রদ্ধা ।

Shark Tank Bangladesh: Meet the Sharks

Bongo BD, in collaboration with Sony Pictures Entertainment, has announced the lineup of judges, referred to as “#Sharks,” for the much-anticipated debut of “Shark Tank Bangladesh.”

The Sharks panel features prominent business leaders including Sami Ahmed of Startup Bangladesh, Nazim Farhan Chowdhury of Adcomm, Golam Murshed of Majesto Ltd, Kazi Mahbub Hassan of R Ventures, Samanzar Khan of AKS Khan Holdings, Fahim Mashroor of Bdjobs, and Ahmed Ali of TISTA.

This distinguished group of Sharks possesses a wide range of expertise and backgrounds, poised to assess and potentially invest in innovative business propositions presented by entrepreneurs from Bangladesh. The inaugural season promises to motivate and bolster the country’s entrepreneurial landscape.

Robi is the title sponsor, Startup Bangladesh is “Powered By Sponsor,” Tally is the co-sponsor, Prime Bank is the banking partner & the show is brought to you by Bongo BD with the support of many other partners.

#SharkTankBangladesh #startupbangladesh

Startup Bangladesh Invests in Apan – impact driven Fintech Startup

Startup Bangladesh Limited, the flagship venture capital company of the ICT Division, invested in Apon Bazaar. Apon, a visionary enterprise in Bangladesh, has been steadfast in its mission to uplift low-income communities with pioneering financial solutions.

The investment was announcement of BDT 1 crore from Startup Bangladesh was made on 7th February in Dhaka. In this seed round Apan received USD 1.5million investments from Startup Bangladesh, US venture capital Village Capital, and several undisclosed angel investors.

Honourable State Minister, Mr. Zunaid Ahmed Palak MP, Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology have graced as the Chief Guest to launch the event, while Faruque Hassan, President, BGMEA & Sami Ahmed, Managing Director Startup Bangladesh Ltd. joined as  Special Guests. Saif Rashid, Founder and CEO of Apon, Neela Hosna Ara, Director BGMEA & Co-Founder, Yasir Arafat, Co-Founder of Apon and many other important stakeholders of the industry were present at the event. A vibrant panel discussion was also held with prominent industry leaders titled “Financial Inclusion for Low-Income in Bangladesh”.

Apon, a visionary enterprise in Bangladesh, has been steadfast in its mission to uplift low-income communities with pioneering financial solutions. The company is committed to enhancing the health and economic well-being of industrial workers, predominantly women, in low-income brackets. By 2025, Apon aims to establish a sustainable platform to benefit 1 million industrial workers, generating a cumulative savings of USD 1 million for them. The company has already made significant strides in this direction, offering grocery credit, promoting financial inclusion, and improving healthcare access for millions.

“Apon’s achievements are a beacon of innovation and social responsibility in the startup landscape. Their focus on empowering the underserved is not just commendable but sets a new standard for how businesses can contribute to societal progress. I am eager to witness their continued growth and impact.” expressed Honorable State Minister Zunaid Ahmed Palak, MP, Ministry of Posts, Telecommunication & ICT on the occasion.

” Apon’s dedication to revolutionizing financial inclusion and improving worker’s wellbeing is truly commendable. As Managing Director of Startup Bangladesh Ltd, I am deeply inspired by Apon’s innovative approach and its impact on society. In today’s interconnected world, collaboration and innovation are key drivers of progress, and AponTech exemplifies these values in every aspect of its work. I am confident that their visionary initiatives will continue to empower communities and drive positive change in Bangladesh,” remarked Sami Ahmed, Managing Director, Startup Bangladesh Limited.

Saif Rashid, CEO of Apon shared, “Our journey to this point has been one of passion and perseverance. This investment not only validates our vision but also strengthens our resolve to revolutionize financial inclusion for Bangladesh’s industrial workers. We are excited for the next chapter in our story, where technology meets social impact. We are thrilled to celebrate this significant milestone with our partners, stakeholders, and supporters. This investment is a testament to the power of technology in driving positive change and fostering a more inclusive financial ecosystem in Bangladesh.”

Sources:

Exitstack: https://www.exitstack.co/posts/apon-secures-us-1-5mn-from-village-capital-fmo-and-sbl-for-rmg-worker-services

digibanglatech: https://digibanglatech.news/news24x7/event/123195/

Kalbela: https://www.kalbela.com/business-news/64050

BSS: https://www.bssnews.net/news/172364

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwImX_rAGC4

orthosongbad: https://orthosongbad.com/

 

 

Happy Holidays

🎉✨ Happy Holidays from Startup Bangladesh! 🌟 As the year comes to a close, we extend warm wishes to our esteemed partners around the globe. 🌍🚀 Your unwavering support has fueled innovation and empowered countless startups on their journey.

উদ্যোক্তাদের উদ্ভাবনী চিন্তা করতে হবে – সামি আহমেদ, ম্যানেজিং ডিরেক্টর, স্টার্টআপ বাংলাদেশ লিমিটেড

নতুন উদ্যোক্তা কিভাবে আপনাদের জানতে পারবে?
আমাদের ওয়েবসাইটে আপ্লাই নাউ অপশনে ফর্মে কিছু প্রশ্ন আছে। প্রশ্নগুলোর উত্তর দিতে হবে। উদ্যোক্তার রেভিনিউ, ফিল্ড ওয়ার্ক থাকতে হবে। শুধু আইডিয়া নিয়ে আপ্লাই করা মানে তিনি আমাদের জন্য প্রস্তুত নন।
আমাদের রবি, টেন মিনিট স্কুলসহ বিভিন্ন পার্টনার আছে। তাদের বিভিন্ন প্রগ্রাম থেকে আমরাও উদ্যোক্তাদের পিক করি। পার্টনার প্রগ্রামের উইনাররাও আমাদের কাছে আইডিয়া নিয়ে আসে। তাদের সঙ্গেও বসি, তবে তাদেরও আবেদন করতে হয়।
উদ্যোক্তাদের নির্বাচন করেন কিভাবে?
উদ্যোক্তাদের আবেদন নিয়ে আমাদের টিম কাজ করে। তাদের রেভিনিউ, ফিল্ড ওয়ার্কসহ নানা কিছু দেখা হয়। ইন্টারভিউ নেওয়া হয়। তাদের ভবিষ্যৎ পরিকল্পনা, দেশ ও দশের লাভ, ব্যাবসায়িক নানা বিষয় দেখা হয়।
প্রেজেন্টেশন তৈরি করা হয়। এরপর ইনভেস্টমেন্ট অ্যাডভাইজরি কমিটি দেখে, ইন্টারভিউ নেয় এবং রিকমেন্ডেশন দেয়। এরপর বোর্ড সংশ্লিষ্ট নানা দিক দেখে। সব েশেষে আমাদের বিভিন্ন ক্রাইটেরিয়ার ওপর ভিত্তি করে আমরা সিদ্ধান্ত নিই বিনিয়োগে যাব কি যাব না।

 

রেভিনিউ মিনিমাম কত দিনের থাকতে হবে?আইডিয়া যদি দ্রুত গ্রো করে, হোক সেটা নতুন বা পুরনো তাতে কোনো সমস্যা নেই।
কমপক্ষে এক বছর থাকলে ভালো হয়।স্টার্টআপ বাংলাদেশ ইনভেস্ট করেছে এমন কম্পানি? পাঠাও, ইন্টেলিজেন্ট মেশিন, চাল ডাল ডটকম, আই ফার্মার, টেন মিনিট স্কুলসহ আরো বেশ কয়েকটি কম্পানি আছে, যারা বেশ ভালো করছে।স্টার্টআপ বাংলাদেশ কি সরকারের অধীনে?
আইসিটি মন্ত্রণালয়ের অধীনে এটা শতভাগ সরকারি প্রতিষ্ঠান। এখানকার ইনভেস্ট করা সব টাকা সরকারের। তবে ভবিষ্যতে আমাদের পরিকল্পনা আছে আরো বিভিন্ন প্রতিষ্ঠান থেকে ফান্ড সংগ্রহ করার।

আপনাদের মতো আরো কোনো প্রতিষ্ঠান কি আছে?
স্টার্টআপ বাংলাদেশ সরকারি লিমিটেড কম্পানি। বেসরকারি সেক্টরে এসিসির [সিকিউরিটি এক্সচেঞ্জ কমিশন] আন্ডারে অনেকেই কাজ করছে। যেমন-রবি আরভেঞ্চার।

নতুন উদ্যোক্তাদের বিষয়ে আপনার পরামর্শ?
উদ্যোক্তাদের উদ্ভাবনী চিন্তা করতে হবে। নতুন আইডিয়া খুঁজে বের করতে হবে। আইডিয়া কপি করা যাবে না। তাদের মনে রাখতে হবে পরিশ্রমী, উদ্ভাবনী ও লেগে থাকার মানসিকতাসম্পন্ন নতুন উদ্যোক্তাদের জন্য মার্কেটে সাপোর্ট আছে।

স্টার্টআপ বাংলাদেশ লিমিটেড এর পক্ষ থেকে সকলকে বিজয় দিবসের শুভেচ্ছা।

Sheba’s comeback story: A demonstration of resilience

When facing a severe fund crisis, tech startups in Bangladesh that are heavily reliant on foreign funding are usually sold off at throwaway prices if not compelled to shut down entirely.

But despite facing a similar situation, Sheba has demonstrated resilience by securing funds from local conglomerates and now performing with robust promise.

“We are stronger than ever, retaining most of our employees,” Adnan Imtiaz Halim, founder and CEO of Sheba, told The Daily Star in an interview.

“Our service delivery numbers are rapidly increasing, we’ve secured a payment service provider license, and all our verticals are projecting strength,” he said.

Sheba.xyz, the largest digital marketplace for household services in Bangladesh, underwent an existential crisis in May 2022.

Missing a round of foreign investment at the time, the local startup’s leadership confronted a moment of truth: they had to lay off a majority of their employees and downsize operations for survival.

“For a year, we focused on sustaining, relying on Sheba’s strength and resilience,” Adnan said.

“We plan to reinitiate operations with full vigour between May 2022-2023. Our objective is to formulate a robust comeback strategy, leveraging a minimal workforce dedicated to this venture,” he added.

However, the crisis did not solely stem from the missed round of investment.

After launching in 2016, Sheba quickly captured the attention of urbanites by offering comprehensive solutions to common challenges associated with city living, such as cleaning, plumbing and more.

Operating as an online connecting platform, Sheba.xyz facilitates service solutions for both users seeking services and the service providers themselves.

In 2019, the company launched Sheba Manager, a business app for managing offline and online shops.

The app offers a suite of tools to efficiently manage businesses, encompassing daily sales tracking, balance calculations, and detailed reports on business income growth, among other essential features.

Having gained popularity soon after its release, Sheba Manager currently has about one million users.

Sheba has since experienced remarkable growth, with the demand for its household services soaring to more than 1,000 orders per day.

From 50 employees based in a small house in Dhaka’s Mirpur DOHS in 2016, the company’s workforce expanded to 480 employees in the five years before the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the onslaught of the pandemic on its operations was hard.

“The initial setback to our business came from the pandemic. We were compelled to suspend our household service entirely for several months,” Adnan said.

“But the bright side of that gloomy time was that we provided 50,000 small business with food and financial assistance while Sheba Manager emerged as a very useful tool for them as well,” he added.

The crisis escalated when an almost secured investment fell through as Sheba is not registered as a company of Singapore.

“We could not obtain legal clearance for the funds because of this,” Adnan said.

 

As a result, Sheba was blindsided by a significant investment shortfall, which was like a “sudden storm” hitting its operations.

“We convened a town hall meeting to transparently address this crisis with our team. It was a time of great uncertainty, but we were committed to facing these challenges as a united family,” he added.

Adnan candidly recalled the struggle inside the startup at the time.

A colleague struggled to pay his child’s school fees and another was on the brink of defaulting on a loan.

“We also had regular service providers on our platform who were struggling to make ends meet. We faced these challenges head-on, prioritising the needs of our people within limited funds,” he said.

“Our efforts were directed towards ensuring that each individual received the support they needed,” Adnan added.

After one year of struggle, Sheba once again got backing from some top local conglomerates and started over again.

“We are resolute in our determination to bounce back, even in the face of a powerful storm. We have not faltered, and the 60 individuals who stood by us are just as determined as I am,” Adnan said.

He also said Sheba has already disbursed Tk 7 crore in outstanding salaries and payments to vendors, bringing the company close to settling all pending payments.

“We firmly believe in the future of this company. Witnessing Sheba’s profound impact on people’s lives and the positive changes it has brought reinforces our confidence. Experiencing a single financial setback does not necessarily imply a dire situation,” Adnan added.

He credited Sheba’s board and shareholders for the comeback.

“Their unwavering confidence and consistent support during challenging times have played a pivotal role in our turnaround,” he said.

According to him, Sheba is a completely locally funded company unlike most other startups.

It raised about Tk 70 core from local backers as of May 2022. Since May 2023, it has secured funding of Tk 32 crore from some local backers in a series A round, taking its total funding to Tk 102.

It plans to raise another Tk 18 core from other local backers in the coming weeks, taking its overall series A round investment to Tk 50 crore.

“In the latest round, BSRM Group, a leading steel manufacturer and one of the largest conglomerates of the country, entrusted their confidence in the impact that Sheba is creating for small merchants and the economy by becoming the latest investors,” he said.

“Besides, Startup Bangladesh Limited is again investing in this round, showing their faith on the concept that is Sheba,” Adnan added.

As the operations of the company is expanding, it started hiring since May this year and now has more than 350 employees.

In August this year, it secured a Payment Service Provider (PSP) license from the central bank to launch Sheba Pay.

The Sheba platform is now working on creating an ecosystem for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

“Already, 35,000 SMEs have used our payment platform,” he said.

Adnan also said the landscape of SMEs, including micro businesses, in Bangladesh is brimming with potential.

“Over the past 10 years, we’ve seen the number of SMEs grow to 10 million. These businesses are more than just numbers; they’re the lifeblood of our economy, with a projected contribution of $500 billion by 2041,” he said.

With Sheba Pay and the Sheba Ecosystem, the company is positioned to help these SMEs flourish and grow, creating a more inclusive financial environment in the process, he added.

Apart from simply doing business, Sheba’s dream is to enhance consumer experiences with innovative products and services.

Adnan said Sheba is more than just a service delivery platform for users.

“A child got trapped in a bathroom when the door malfunctioned. The mother then contacted us, and we successfully rescued the child within 30 minutes,” he said.

Similarly, a newlywed couple faced car trouble at night in the outskirts of Dhaka, and Sheba’s technicians promptly resolved the issue.

“So, Sheba is cherished by people for problem-solving,” Adnan added.

Adnan also said that Sheba has had an impact beyond its customers.

“I know a plumber that would earn just Tk 12,000 monthly. Using Sheba, he built a team and uplifted his earnings tremendously,” he added.

Now, the plumber owns two sanitaryware shops, and resides in a comfortable flat.

“Besides, it is an immense pleasure for me to witness that he now sends his child to a good school,” Adnan said.

“At Sheba, we not only aim to solve problems, but also support lives and livelihoods,” he added.

Full Article Source: https://www.thedailystar.net/business/news/shebas-comeback-story-demonstration-resilience-3493811