LightCastle Partners in a rejoinder said the report "Bad time for start-ups" published by The Business Standard on 4 February 2020 was based on 11-month-old data and that "the Startup Ecosystem has added strong impetus to Bangladesh's growth since then".
Following is the the text of the rejoinder: The article has quoted a study done by LightCastle Partners with support of the Bangladesh Startup Consortium in April 2020 which captured the impact on Startups as direct aftermath of the pandemic. However, we want to stress that the report is 11 months old and the Startup Ecosystem has added strong impetus to Bangladesh's growth since then.
Till now, we have seen USD 300 million+ invested into Startups with 2020 and early 2021, contributing to USD 46 million from big-name investors like Sequoia Capital, Flourish Ventures, Ecom Express, Anchorless Bangladesh, IDLC, IFC. The Bangladesh government has also launched a multi-million dollar Venture Capital fund under the Ministry of ICT - Startup Bangladesh Limited which is catalyzing growth of the ecosystem. Companies like ShopUp, Paperfly, iFarmer, Frontier Nutrition, SOLshare, Loop, Gaze, Truck Lagbe - all of which have raised capital in 2020-21 are providing critical/essential services in the economy. This is in addition to our existing cohort of Startups who are changing the way Bangladesh operates including (but not limited to) Chaldal.com, Pathao, Shohoz, Sheba.xyz, Maya, Praava, Upskill and many others, whether it's in logistics, mobility, e-com, health or education.
With 50% of the population below 30 years of age, 100 million+ on the internet, 90 million in mobile financial services, 40 million+ in smart devices, density dividend (1200 people/sq km), Middle and Affluent consumers growing at 10.5% per annum set to reach 34 million by 2025- Bangladesh provides expansive possibilities for creating innovative enterprises.
The pandemic has also accelerated the use of ICT technology, including digital commerce, education, healthcare, agriculture. All these are creating a bedrock on which the startups can build and scale their services - as the saying goes "In Bangladesh, consumers aren't just leapfrogging laptops to go into mobile devices but actually moving into FinTech products and side-stepping traditional banking systems."
While the pandemic has created economic ripples throughout the world, this has also accelerated digitalization. E-commerce has tripled during the period reaching 100K+ orders/day and is projected to reach USD 3 billion by 2023. Government has supported the growth of critical/essential services coming online with initiatives like COVID Accelerator, Call4Nation, BIG and IdeaThon. As we continue to combat the pandemic - ICT and Startups are coming into play to continue to provide critical services.
Our reply: Our report mentioned both good and bad performing start-ups at the pandemic time. However, we regret that the headline of our report was misleading.