Syed Maruf Reza is a motivator and entrepreneur of Bangladesh. He is the Associate Professor and Head of Department of Entrepreneurship of Daffodil International University. He was also a member of the organizing team of Global Youth Entrepreneurship Summit.
In an interview with Glocal Khabar, here is what Reza has to say about Global Youth Entrepreneurship Summit 2015.
Being in the organizing team and being a part of the Global Youth Entrepreneurship Summit (GYES), how are you feeling today?
We the Daffodil International University are the title sponsor of this auspicious event. We really feel proud to be here, I feel honored to represent my university as well as my department. Altogether, 20 students and faculty members are here. Overall, we enjoyed and learned a lot, it was a huge international gathering. I think it will motivate youth of the whole world so that they can conquer the whole world and only one thing they need is networking and their joint effort. I think from that particular point of view this summit is very successful.
Can you tell more about your Bachelor of Entrepreneurship program? How far it has progressed?
Yes, in Bangladesh there are about 130 private and public universities. DIU is the only university which is offering a four year program on Bachelor of Entrepreneurship (BE). We have found the first specialized department of BE in Bangladesh. We are working from last January. So far we have three batches and about thirty students. The students are really focused and are aiming to become future entrepreneurs. We have established our venture capital named ‘Bangladesh Venture Capital’ and so far we have financed five companies which are composed of different students of different universities. We are providing support to the not only DIU students but also to the students of many colleges and universities of Bangladesh. From that point of view, it is a media of encouragement for the students of Bangladesh and at the same time we have our own business incubator. We are hopeful that we will be able to create a difference in the sector of higher education in our country.
What are recent programs at Daffodil University?
We are also focusing on global networking. For example we have already signed a MOU with Kauffman Foundation which is the largest and one of the oldest foundations of entrepreneurship funding agency. They have more than 3, 50,000 graduates and alumnaeâ€™s. We are offering number one course of Kauffman fast track which is called PEV (Planning Entrepreneur Venture) to our students and soon we will offer this course to the graduates of other universities also. At the same time I should also mention that we have collaboration with ILO (International Labor Organization) and we have started a SIYB program which is global program meaning â€œStart and Improve Your Businessâ€ and we have successfully completed the GYB (Generate Your Business) training Â program. By the end December hopefully we will be offering the â€œStart Your Businessâ€ program which is the second module of the SIYB program. By this way we are trying our level best under the leadership of our honorable chairman Mr. Sabur Khan who is the president of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce (largest and oldest trade body of the country). We are really confident that we will be able to make a change.
What type of responses are you getting from these interested students?
The responses are really very good because there is a traditional mindset in the guardians that their children should go for job. We have to work against that mindset and the legal framework of the country because the a few days ago there were no provision to provide funds to the young entrepreneurs. We are trying from last one or two years from Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Daffodil International University, Sabur Khan was trying very hard to open up some opportunities for the young minds and we have become successful under the guidance of Bangladesh Bank. Many banks are providing collateral loans to the entrepreneurs and there are very few venture capitals. They are providing venture capitals to the young mind. Through this way we have received a very positive response from the audiences and students.
What are the challenges you are facing and how are you trying to overcome them?
The main challenge so far according to me is that we have to work against the mindset of the guardians, institutions, government policy makers, educationist because we all are habituated with producing executives, to tag our self with a job market. It is quite hard to create huge opportunities for more than two million young minds every year because Bangladesh is a blooming nation and its economy is rising very fast and if we want to accelerate it, we have to focus on entrepreneurship in the academic and government policy level. We are overcoming this challenge through our efforts.
How are the international delegates playing role in this issue?
They are helping our students in a many number of ways. Say for example, there is a very good gathering in this event and our students are engaging themselves with the delegates of different nation and countries. They can share their innovative business ideas and get inspired by this summit. I can see my students motivated and asking me â€œWhen am I going to start my own company?â€ They are realizing that they are already in the competition. So, I think itâ€™s a global village and each and everybody can inspire the other.
Are you planning to spread the entrepreneurship programs outside Dhaka city?
We have network all over Bangladesh and if you look at my student database you will find that more than 50% of them are from outside Dhaka city. They are coming from small towns and villages to Dhaka city to become entrepreneurs and be a part of this journey. I think we will be able to encourage people further and involve them in field visits in different corners of the country. We are planning to go to Tangail which is 100km from Dhaka city so that our students get practical business knowledge from the traditional cotton mills over there. By this way we will be able to cover every corner of Bangladesh with our own slogan.
Interviewed and written by: Marjan Akhter
Reporter of Glocal Khabar, Bangladesh