Sherpa Hossainy's Blog

Business conduit for two neighbours — India and Bangladesh

Posted in Bangladesh, Business, Dhaka, Technology by Sherpa Hossainy on October 15, 2011

Published in The Independent on 15 October 2011

Read the article on Independent website

Digital print version

If you have to judge a book by its cover, the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Technology Fair 2011 might feel like a glum affair with nonchalant stall-attendants having scanty visitors.

However, the organisers believe that the nine-day fair at Handball stadium in Dhaka, showcasing SME technology from 40 enterprises from India, is doing a good bridging job between the two next door  neighbours – Bangladesh and India.

The fair, first of its kind in Bangladesh, is organised by the National Small Industries Corporation Ltd (NSIC) India, SME Foundation, Industrial and Infrastructure Development Finance Company (IIDFC) and Bangladesh Federation of Women Entrepreneurs (BFWE), in association with the industries ministry and Bangladesh Bank.

“It is a B2B (business to business) exposition and we didn’t expect too much rush in the fair,” Rajesh Jain, chief manager of NSIC, told the Independent, explaining the low turnout. According to IIDFC, the average turnout everyday was around 400 and on Friday it was only 250.

“We wanted to motivate young entrepreneurs to know about new technology, choose the machinery and start their own businesses. It is a great opportunity for SME entrepreneurs of both countries,” Jain said.

The fair, especially featuring technologies from the light engineering sector, is displaying  machine tools, electronic equipment, hardware items, bicycles and bicycle parts and sewing machines. “We wanted to explore the opportunities of those specific sectors in Bangladesh,” Jain added.

Some entrepreneurs, however, were not getting the right response they probably hoped for.

“I thought I’d get some business here, but unfortunately I got nothing. I think there was a lack of promotion, that’s why no one is coming,” said P Lodha, director of Pragya Equipments Pvt Ltd, who came from the Indian state of Madhyapradesh.

The entrepreneur, who deals with radiator parts and oil extraction (from oil seed) machines, also pointed out the weak engineering industry in Bangladesh as another reason for the low turnout, saying that there is only two oil extraction company in Bangladesh.

“If this is the condition of the fair, I don’t wish to come back here next time,” he added.

However, NSIC chief Jain waved aside the complaints, saying that the entrepreneurs are here to explore the possibilities, not to do full-fledged business.

“We can’t expect a 100 per cent business-oriented fair at first. Not all entrepreneurs will get business from the fair. Some will establish good connection and do business in future,” he said.

Jain believes that the entrepreneurs have to establish some substantial business ties at first and business will thrive henceforth. “In terms of establishing business links, I think we are doing quite well,” he claimed.

Visitors at a stall in SME Technology Fair 2011, Dhaka

Unlike Lodha, some entrepreneurs were having a good time setting up connections in Bangladesh, such as Shasank Rane, manager of overseas marketing of Apidor Abrasive Products Pvt Ltd. “We already had some businesspeople coming from Nawabpur in Dhaka and they expressed their interest to start business,” Rane said.

Rane said his company, from the Indian state of Maharashtra, is looking for authorised dealers in Bangladesh and has already found five or six potential candidates.

“We want to expand our business, and Bangladesh has no such company that produce abrasive products. So we thought we should come to the fair and establish some connection,” he said.

The entrepreneur said that until Thursday, 70 people had visited his company’s stall and he is already looking to take part in the next edition of the fair.

While the Indian entrepreneurs were busy establishing business connections, their Bangladeshi counterparts were also on the lookout for eligible partners.

Yasmin Sultana Dipa, a former service woman, said that she is going to start a SME venture and she is building a team of local and foreign entrepreneurs.

“I’m looking for some partners from India for my new SME enterprise. I’m here to get some ideas, know more about businesses, loans, and paper works,” she said. However, Dipa said the product base should be diversified and the fair should have more ladies’ products, which she is basically interested in.

Some entrepreneurs are seeing the fair as a laudable effort to deepen the bilateral relations and trade between the two countries and curb China’s dominance in light engineering sector.

Jagbir Singh Sokhi, president of Sewing Machine Development Club and proprietor of Sokhi Components, said, “There is a tremendous opportunity of doing business in Bangladesh and it is the policy of Indian government to promote business in Bangladesh.”

Sokhi, manufacturer of sewing machine parts from the Indian state of Punjab, said, “India and Bangladesh should bank on the existing good relationship and cut back China’s supremacy in the manufacturing sector.”

Although the entrepreneur believes that Bangladesh has to rationalise its import policy to use its full potential. “Huge duties have to be paid if you want to do business here. People go for some backdoor tricks like over-invoicing and under-invoicing to avoid that,” he said.

Sokhi believes a reasonable amount of duty will lure more businesspersons to invest in Bangladesh and government will get higher revenue automatically.

The entrepreneur from Punjab expressed his interest to come back again and said that he is aiming to set up a joint venture business in Bangladesh. “We are not here to sell products only. We want to generate employment in Bangladesh too,” he said.

Officials of IIDFC, one of the organisers, said the fair has successfully attracted new and existing entrepreneurs from both the countries and there will be another edition of this fair very soon.


One Response

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  1. seoul said, on December 2, 2012 at 3:25 am

    Business conduit for two neighbours — India and Bangladesh Sherpa Hossainy's Blog I found what I was seeking for. great write-up, thank you

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