Do boot camps really help entrepreneurs?
Boot camps follow an integrated curriculum of entrepreneurship while incubator is where entrepreneurs start
Most accelerators and boot camps for entrepreneurs in Bangladesh have pretty weak and untested curricula, poor relationships with investors and either an uncommitted or no mentorship programme, says the EMK Center in Dhaka.
Referring to Bangladesh's low ranking in the Ease of Doing Business Index, it, however, said there has been a vast proliferation of accelerators across Bangladesh over the past few years, and the phenomenon brings advantages to the tech community.
"Accelerators often inject a renewed sense of excitement into local startup scenes. However, the sad truth is that very few accelerators are worth participating in," EMK Center said in a press release on its "Boot Camps for Entrepreneurs: Developing an effective and sustainable framework" Wednesday.
Against the backdrop of reality, the virtual session of the programme shed light on the importance of the boot camps, incubators and accelerator programmes for the entrepreneurial ecosystem and the way forward for Bangladesh.
The center gathered experts and academics from Bangladesh and the United States to talk about how a standard boot camp should look like and how the designers should plan for this.
Professor Imran Rahman, special adviser to the Board of Trustees at University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB), talked about linking up industry and education.
The entrepreneur, academician and industry expert said, "Our traditional educational system is not very supportive for the entrepreneurs. Therefore, boot camps and entrepreneurship teaching programmes can contribute a lot to teach the requisites for entrepreneurship. This is an excellent opportunity to bridge the gap between academia and industry."
In the meantime, US-based Resolution Project CEO George Tsiatis explained that boot camps follow an integrated curriculum of entrepreneurship while incubator is where entrepreneurs start.
"Accelerator is about creating space to speed up. At Resolution, we work with over 100 organsiation in partnership to create start-ups. Our key focus is strategic partnership," he noted.
The Resolution Project, USA, identifies and empowers undergraduate students around the world who are launching new social ventures, supported by Resolution's global network of resources. George Tsiastis has 21 years of experience in organisational development, portfolio management, fundraising and mentorship.
Another panellist of the programme Farhana Islam, head of Innovation and start-up ecosystem at Grameenphone, said, "Since 2014, 33 start-ups have emerged in the market from GP Accelerator. We do nationwide outreach by doing outreach programmes to remove barriers. This year, we are doing nationwide outreach and required boot camp. In our last batch, we gave special focus on inclusivity and half of our start-ups were female led. This is where we would like to focus on the future too."
Asif Uddin Ahmed, assistant professor at ULAB and acting director of EMK Center, moderated the session. The session was attended by 60 entrepreneurs, educators, and trainers.
Asif Uddin Ahmed said, "EMK has a STEM hub, entrepreneurship and employability interventions. In the upcoming years, we will focus mainly to create models for other relevant actors in these sectors. Ecosystem mapping will be our second objective in 2021 and 2022."
He said they would work to develop modules for the entrepreneurship development organisations and for the boot camp designers. To achieve these, partnership would be a key focus for them.
Mark Burrell, regional public engagement specialist for South Asia of the US Embassy in New Delhi, also joined the session. He said youths in this region have the potential and dedication to stand globally.
"Use this incredible network to your advantage," he encouraged.