Promoting Entrepreneurship through Business Incubators

Business Incubator is a unique and highly flexible combination of business development processes, infrastructure and people designed to nurture new and small businesses, to help them survive and grow through the difficulties of the early stages. Business Incubators can play an important role to the success of the start-ups in Bangladesh by providing various incubation services.

Business Incubator is like a family to the young entrepreneurs during their hard and challenging entrepreneurial journey; in other words, it is an asylum for start-ups. The family is the principal institution for the socialisation of children and Business Incubator is the principal institution which can provides immense opportunities to make entrepreneurial excellence. A Business Incubator provides many services to the nascent businesses that enrol there. Since start-up companies or the young entrepreneurs who want to start their businesses lack many resources like pertinent knowledge, business experiences, mentoring and business networks, business incubators can provide all required services which can help them get through the initial hurdles in starting a business. These hurdles include office space, funding, legal issues, accounting, mentoring and business networks, business strategies, development activities and other prerequisites to operate the business. All these services can help the incubatee companies or start-ups to operate their business more effectively and successfully.

The formal concept of Business Incubation began in 1959 in New York, USA and later in the 1980s; the idea spread to USA, UK and Europe through various forms. Many countries started to work on Business Incubation earlier and they obtained results: Being the birthplace of many eminent companies of the world. There are many world-famous companies that started their entrepreneurial journeys undergoing business incubation. Silicon Valley is a prominent ‘’Business Incubation Centre’’ of the world, situated in the southern San Francisco Bay area of California, USA, a home to many start-ups and global pioneer technology based companies like Apple, Face book, Google etc. Our neighbouring country India is also quite ahead in establishing different business incubators. The PSG-Science & Technology Entrepreneurial Park (PSG-STEP) is a prominent business incubation centre situated in Tamilnadu, India, established in 1998 with the vision to promote technology-based enterprises in the areas of software, electronic products, hi-tech mechanical products, eco-friendly textile products, and bio-technology using the core strengths of PSG College of Technology.

At present, Business Incubation is a widely discussed topic in Bangladesh; especially so since the Awami League government began giving priority to science and ICT division, and announced their vision 2021 of creating Digital Bangladesh. This vision also created an enormous opportunity for the government to develop the IT sectors rapidly, Business Incubators being one of the main conduits. As a continuation of these priorities, Sheikh Hasina, the Honourable Prime Minister has urged National Institute of Bio-Technology (NIB) to establish a bio-tech incubator while Zunaid Ahmed Palak, the state minister for ICT division, a very influential member of the cabinet to the youth, is encouraging many institutions to establish IT or digital based Business Incubators throughout the country. As a result, the country’s first ever IT incubator has been launched through the joint initiate of ICT Division and Banglalink to encourage innovative ventures of global standard and to take them to the global market. The Centre for Entrepreneurship Development (CED), BRAC University has established an academia based Business Incubation Centre (BIC) to encourage students and alumni to start their ventures through business plan competition under the sub-project of Higher Education Quality Enhancement Project (HEQEP) funded by World Bank and being implanted by University Grants Commission (UGC) of Bangladesh. Some institutions like Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, University of Chittagong, and SME Foundation are working on establishing business incubators too. Some organisations like Yunus Centre and Grameenphone are working on entrepreneurial accelerator programmes to help the start-ups in their development processes. All these efforts are not adequate enough to encourage young entrepreneurs to start their businesses and stay alive. It is significant to work on improving entrepreneurial knowledge of the young entrepreneurs and providing other prerequisite supports to boost their confidences so that they can effectively operate their business to overcome all difficulties of the initial stages which can make enviable success stories.

In the end, one would hope that, considering the significance of business incubators, the government’s various divisions and institutions, banks, universities, NGOs, and other prominent organisations will come forward to assist in establishing business incubators throughout the country based on addressing the needs of the start-ups and young entrepreneurs. Thus, Business Incubators can help in creating an inclusive entrepreneurial eco-system in Bangladesh as well as boost the economy of the country.

The writer is Programme Officer, Centre for Entrepreneurship Development (CED), BRAC University