In 2019, Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (Bida), the government agency that is responsible for encouraging and facilitating private investment in the country, implemented a project titled "Entrepreneurship Creation and Skill Development" to train people as entrepreneurs.
Under the project, Bida trained 24,900 people across the country. However, only 4,245 or 17 percent of them became entrepreneurs. The remaining 20,655 trainees could not become entrepreneurs due to a lack of capital.
We asked Dr Syed Ferhat Anwar, the Director of Institute of Business Administration (IBA) at the University of Dhaka if the project to train people to become entrepreneurs is successful. He thinks the project is a huge success.
"Around 500 students graduate from Dhaka University's IBA every year. Among them, less than five percent of the students become entrepreneurs. It is normal," said Professor Anwar, adding that Bida's 17% rate is successful.
"You cannot make all of them entrepreneurs. This is a foolish thought," the professor continued.
Entrepreneurship is an invention. There are tens of thousands of ongoing research and development projects in the world. "How many of them are successful? Maybe two percent?" he told the correspondent.
Professor Anwar explained, "If we train a hundred people and 10 or less than 10 people will become entrepreneurs and this is a huge success. In other countries, the story is the same - even in the Harvard Business School. Around three percent succeed."
However, most of the people who took training from Bida said that they could not become entrepreneurs due to a lack of capital; more specifically bank loans.
"This is an important factor but not the only one. If you give someone 10 taka, how long can he utilize this 10 taka if he does not contribute to anything? He will never be able to achieve anything with this 10 taka," said Prof Anwar.
He added that people who want to become entrepreneurs will have to have a personal urge.
The professor added, "There is a difference between a manager and an entrepreneur. You can make a manager by providing training but making an entrepreneur needs personal initiative. However, you can provide training to develop the managerial efficiency of an entrepreneur."
According to Professor Anwar, it is difficult to train a person to become an entrepreneur because entrepreneurs have different dimensions. Becoming one requires one's own innovations and thoughts.
"Nearly everyone who has become successful entrepreneurs said that it was possible because they wanted to do something for the country out of patriotism," he informed, adding, "Many people think entrepreneurs only make money. But I did not meet anyone who became entrepreneurs only for making money. All of them said that they want to do something to create employment."
Professor Anwar told us that entrepreneurs get involved with a project once they face a challenge.
"The main purpose of an entrepreneur is not making money. Of course, they will not want to incur losses. They will make some money but their primary purpose is not that," he elaborated.
He further said that real entrepreneurs will never say that they have done something for only making money. If they wanted to earn money, they would have joined a job.
"Making a business sustainable needs money. We have seen that those who became entrepreneurs only for money do not sustain. If you think of money only, it will never be sustainable. You cannot train people to take risks. Entrepreneurs have the mentality to take risks. Those who take risks to do something do not do it only for the money," said the professor.
He opines that entrepreneurs have to have a leadership quality. "These people want to make a difference in the society. They are change makers. I always say that they are change makers," he said.
Creating brands requires being a unique entrepreneur. Professor Anwar continued, "They will have to stand in a unique position to create brands. They have to find out the problems and propose solutions. They have to do research."
"Bida has trained them. But the institute will not hand them everything. They will have to do the rest of it on their own. BIDA can only facilitate them," he added.
Professor Anwar suggested the government should undertake such projects regularly. He said that these 17 entrepreneurs will employ thousands of people.
"It is not necessary that an entrepreneur will know managerial tasks in the beginning. If an entrepreneur is trained, both productivity and efficiency will increase and their thoughts will be more structured," Professor Anwar opined.
He concluded that BIDA has taken good initiatives and should continue such training.