Bangladesh an inspiration for South Asian peers
With rising economic growth over the last few decades, Bangladesh has become a start-up hub where businesses have reached a new height, according to Binod Chaudhary, founder of CG Corp Global.
"The country has very popular e-commerce initiatives like Pathao, Daraz and bKash and I would like to congratulate the innovators of these great ideas because they have become a tool of people's lives," said the lone Nepalese billionaire.
They had a meaningful impact on addressing people's needs amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Chaudhary added.
The seasoned business tycoon similarly praised the local garment industry, highlighting that it was the world's second largest supplier after China.
The garment sector makes up 11 per cent of the country's GDP and employs about 4.4 million people.
Although Nepal and Bangladesh took to manufacturing clothes about four decades ago, the latter was able to showcase its strength thanks to entrepreneurial resilience and government support.
Besides, with the global supply chain relocating away from China, Bangladesh has a big opportunity to step forward and be an example for its South Asian peers.
Chaudhary said his journey had not been easy either but 20 years' hardship resulted in CG Corp Global, which comprises over 169 companies and 79 brands in 24 countries.
"I moved forward with the belief that hospitality is the key to success and entered the big hotel group Taj. Today, I have investments in 134 hotels around the globe," he said.
Instant noodle brand Wai Wai was another important propagator, claiming almost 30 per cent of the Indian market and spreading out around the globe.
"We are honoured to cover 2.6 per cent of the global noodle market share with 2.8 billion packets sold per annum," he said.
Chaudhary was addressing the 19th edition of Bangladesh Business Awards, an initiative of DHL Express and The Daily Star, on December 12, 2020.
The industrialist spoke of the severe bureaucratic and political challenges of doing business in South Asia.
"If you can do business in South Asia, you can do business anywhere in the world," he said while praising Bangladesh's economic success over the years.
Chaudhary also found it inspiring to read from various sources that the Bangladesh economy was of the likes of China's in terms of quickest revival from the Covid-19 fallouts in Asia.
International Monetary Fund predicted China's GDP growth amidst the pandemic to be 1.9 per cent while that of Bangladesh 3.9 per cent.
With a GDP per capita income of $2,000, the Bangladesh economy is inspirational for the world, including South Asia.
The country maintained an impressive economic growth while human and business development progressed simultaneously. Poverty dropped by nearly a third, joined by increased life expectancy, literacy and per capita food intake.
Entrepreneurship is all about dreaming, superb courage and doing things differently, Chaudhary said.
Chaudhary Group started off as a traditional family business some 140 years ago.
Over the past 30 years, Chaudhary established not only business ties but also personal ones in Bangladesh.
He particularly recalled late Latifur Rahman, former chairman and CEO of Transcom Group, with whom he worked in different capacities to shape businesses in South Asia.
The pandemic created a lot of business opportunities, including a boom in online business. So Bangladesh can exploit these opportunities as it has already become a hub for start-ups, especially in e-commerce.
"The only way to keep moving forward is to have a vision and find out how to reach that vision while believing that the sky's the limit," he said.
"When I first started, it was not easy to do business in Nepal," said Chaudhary. Major hurdles included ambiguous rules and laws, closed societies, strict foreign exchange regulations and political regimes.
"But I still followed my heart and tried to find the solution to each problem and found the legal way of doing international business without violating any laws of the country," he added.
"Bangladesh is a home away from home for me. I have been intimately touched by this country as I have many good friends out here," he said.
"The country has given me immense knowledge and friends and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for enduring a true friendship from this platform," the industrialist said.
On choosing to invest in Bangladesh, Chaudhury cites four reasons – its growth rate, large population, consumer spending habits and suitable government policies.
"Most importantly though, I love the country and its people so my investment is more than money," Chaudhary said.
"In the coming days, the definition of life will be re-defined as will our priorities and I am with you in this process of change," Chaudhary added.