I know it is a little late to be writing a summer recap, but to say that the Summer of 2010 passed quickly would be an understatement. Between the launching of this new website and another for our FastTrac program, the commissioning of Who Owns the Icehouse book and online learning program, an incredible visit to Dhaka Bangladesh, and a family summer vacation squeezed into the only week without multiple pre-existing commitments -- the summer was a blur.
Of the experiences listed above, I wanted to share some of the things I learned during my visit to Bangladesh. We were invited by our U.S. Embassy there to participate in a series of lectures and panel discussions at multiple universities, the MBA Association of Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute, the American Chamber of Commerce, and even a television appearance. A news account of one of the discussions can be found here.
The first undeniable conclusion is, despite some socioeconomic, political and environmental limitations, the people of Bangladesh are resourceful, hospitable, and intellectually curious. Every discussion included intelligent participation from the audience and interest in becoming more self sufficient as a nation.
The other obvious palpable fact is that Bangladesh is on the cusp of becoming an economic force; complicating the debate of whether they are a country in need of foreign aid or, more attractively, are a good candidate for foreign direct investment. The sub-optimal political environment and public infrastructure (energy and traffic in particular) make the latter a harder case to sell, but clearly countries like China and India recognize the potential as is obvious by their presence.
As I stated multiple times in my comments, if the government and private sectors of Bangladesh could work together towards a more conducive environment for starting and growing new companies, I would bet 10,000 taka that they will be an emerging economic force of some influence and am genuinely looking forward to tracking their growth.
Next week, Fall Preview. Here’s a hint … apparently there is going to be an election. I wonder how much of the public discourse will be around entrepreneurship’s importance to rebuilding our economy?
Thom Ruhe Director of Entrepreneurship The Kauffman Foundation