Let's Disrupt: Charting Strategies for SMEs to Succeed in a Post Crisis World

Posted by: Maimun Mustafa - Global Chamber Barisal on Friday, May 8, 2020

The “Let's Disrupt” series at Global Chamber® intends to spark conversations on contemporary issues shaping our world. For this our first globinar in the covid-19 series, we explored how the global pandemic is disrupting Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in developing nations, highlighted in the context of the Bangladesh economy.

We discussed challenges and opportunities... for growth and success. Watch the discussion HERE.

Zeeshan Abedin, Country Economist at International Growth Centre, shared his views on the policy aspects of helping SMEs in Bangladesh to get out of the current crisis. He expressed the view that there needs to be more wide-ranging capacity building in the SME space and that the government needs to step in and take the policy initiative to do this.

Bijon Islam, Co-Founder and CEO at Lightcastle Partners, spoke of the overall employment and livelihoods contribution of SMEs in Bangladesh and shared his views on how the pandemic has affected the SME and startup sector in Bangladesh from both an employment and an economic perspective.

Dishen Maharaj, Co-Founder of B.E.T, shared his insights on the reasons why SMEs fail, and what SMEs should be capitalizing on to ensure their success and sustainability. He provided a roadmap for leaders to move forward in a successful way.

The question and answer session which followed the presentations discussed further issues, including how the China-Bangladesh relationship would be affected in light of the pandemic and additional opportunities for SME disruptors in the coming months.

We were sorry to miss Farzeen Ferdous Alam because of illness. Watch for his inclusion in a future globinar.

Maimun Mustafa - Executive Director, Global Chamber® Barisal

Biographies of the Speakers

Zeeshan Abedin, Country Economist of the International Growth Centre (IGC) in Bangladesh. Zeeshan is the Country Economist for the International Growth Centre (IGC) in Bangladesh, and boasts a portfolio of work that focuses on different aspects of the manufacturing sector (particularly that of Ready Made Garments) spanning from productivity, technology adoption, innovation when it comes to management practices to workers' welfare that furthers the understanding of gender and financial inclusion within it. In this regard, Zeeshan has experience with disseminating relevant research findings to stakeholders at National Skills Development Authority (NSDA) and the various agencies of the Ministry of Labour in Bangladesh. As per the IGC's mandate and in his current capacity, Zeeshan works at the confluence of policymakers and academic researchers to instill the usage of evidence in the policymaking process.  In this pursuit, he engages closely with counterparts in the Government of Bangladesh (GoB). Some of the IGC's most notable work in recent years have been with the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED), the Planning Commission's General Economic Division (GED), Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), Bangladesh Bank and the Power Division.  Prior to joining the IGC, Zeeshan spent nearly three years in International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) where his role largely entailed strengthening the capacity of an Agricultural Policy Support Unit (APSU) within the Ministry of Agriculture.  It was at IFPRI that he got his first opportunity to see RCTs at work and to eventually play an active part in developing one countrywide along with the Ministry of Agriculture's Department of Agricultural Extension. Zeeshan started off his career as an academician at the School of Business of Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB) after a brief stint in financial auditing at a ‘big four’ public accounting firm, Deloitte.  As for his academic credentials, he was formally trained in Economics and Accounting at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Bijon Islam CEO - LightCastle PartnersBijon is the cofounder and CEO of LightCastle Partners, an organization that focuses on creating data-driven opportunities for growth and impact for development partners,corporates, SMEs and Startups. Over the last five years Bijon has led the company in engagements across 100+ businesses/development partners, 300+ SMEs/Startups and 20+ accelerator programs in multiple industries including Technology, Agriculture, Health, Energy and Manufacturing. Recently, LightCastle has also partnered to launch a Smart Capital Investment Program which facilitates growth capital for SMEs/Startups. Previously Bijon has worked with Citibank, N.A. and Citi Foundation and oversaw execution of Bangladesh's first Interest Rate Swap, Equity Convertible Bonds, Largest IPO, Microfinance Securitization and Block Equity Trades. Due to outstanding performance, Bijon had received the CEO Excellence Awards for two years in a row in the organization. In 2015 Bijon was nominated as 15 under 35 in Bangladesh by Future Startup (leading Startup media in Bangladesh) and Top 7 Rising Young CEOs by Startup Dhaka. Bijon is an active ecosystem builder and has attended 50+ entrepreneurship development events as judge/panelist/resource-person including Startup Weekend, Startup Cup and Innovation Extreme. Bijon has Bachelors and Masters in Business Administration from Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka.

Dishen Maharaj - Co-founder of B.E.T. Dishen is the co-founder of Business Enabling Toolbox (B.E.T), www.yvrbet.com, a unique digital advisor for Startups and SME businesses. B.E.T coaches businesses and empowers them to make better decisions that result in Growth, Improvement, Transformation, and Sustainability. From Johannesburg, South Africa, Dishen has over 15 years of Local and Global experience ranging from Telecommunications, Financial Services, Power & Utilities, Transport, and Manufacturing, in both the Public and Private Sector. Dishen is also a Business Mentor and Entrepreneur operating in various industries. His broad-based experience ranges from Auditing, Senior Management Consulting, Business & Product Development, Business Process Analysis, and Project Management. Dishen's broad exposure enables him to easily connect the dots, be adaptable, resilient, and express his strong commercial acumen. Dishen has been involved with and has led many, first of its kind initiatives, globally. Dishen has an Accounting background, two post-graduate qualifications in Business Management & Administration, and an Executive MBA from one of Africa’s top-ranked business schools - The Gordon Institute of Business Science. Leveraging his wholistic experiences has aided in the creation of B.E.T, which continues to see huge global success.


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