Shahidul Mostafa Chowdhury Mizan is the newly elected president of the Junior Chamber International (JCI) Chattogram Cosmopolitan. The young entrepreneur from Chattogram joined the family business in 2005 after completing his BBS from the Canberra University in Australia. Then he started his own shipping business in 2006. Now he is leading different social organisations alongside running his own and family businesses.
Since 2015, Shahidul is involved with the JCI which works on the startup strategy, leadership and networking of new entrepreneurs. He recently talked with The Business Standard on different challenges faced by the entrepreneurs and ways to solve those.
Why did you become an entrepreneur instead of taking a job?
Taking a Job would have provided employment for me. But when I become an entrepreneur using my talent and labour, employment will be created for many alongside myself. There is a scope for becoming successful quickly in business. However, one has to have talent and patience. Here one needs only to give his maximum effort.
What is required to become an entrepreneur?
The biggest capital one needs to become an entrepreneur is the willingness to do something new, not the amount of capital or opportunities you have. However, socio-economic solvency makes an aspiring entrepreneur's journey easier. But, the insolvents are also becoming entrepreneurs. One may not be solvent but a dream can make a person a successful entrepreneur.
What are the obstacles on the way to become an entrepreneur?
In Bangladesh, one has to face many hindrances on the way to becoming an entrepreneur.
The first problem is the scarcity of the right idea and necessary information. These include the preparation of necessary papers for starting a business and information on the availability of loans or government assistance.
There is no institution in the country where correct information for a new entrepreneur is available.
What are the problems in getting loans?
The financial institutions do not lend money to newcomers in business in the country. This creates many problems for new entrepreneurs. In the beginning, they do not have much capital. So it is much difficult for a fresh entrepreneur to get a bank loan than it is for an established businessman. The long process of getting loans or financial assistance also discourages an entrepreneur.
What obstacles a family poses to becoming an entrepreneur?
The guardians in Bangladesh want to educate their children in a way that ensures a good job. Most families advise young people to go for steady jobs. So the youths face obstacles from their families apart from the socio-economic condition.
What are the disparities among aspiring and established entrepreneurs?
A young entrepreneur faces different challenges. Even if he is equally qualified like an established businessman he faces different behaviour because he is young. Besides, the young entrepreneurs in most cases face inequality in getting various facilities and assistance from financial institutions and businesses.
What type of idea new entrepreneurs need to gather?
In our country, there is a tendency among all to lean towards a business that becomes successful. This is not desirable. One has to do something different from the things others are doing. If he can do something like that, there is a possibility of becoming successful easily. First, one should do a study on the business one wants to run. He has to know the previous situation of the business and what its prospect is.
Now many throw a stone in the darkness. They start a fancy business with small capital hoping for a big profit. They will have to focus on sustainable and long-term business instead of thinking of making make a quick profit.
What are the problems of expanding a business?
It is very difficult for new entrepreneurs to export their commodities because he does not get a ready field. So, many entrepreneurs do not get a market and cannot move ahead. Its main cause is a complex system of money transactions in export and international trade.
What is necessary to avert risk?
One cannot become an entrepreneur if he only establishes business following a tested path. An entrepreneur makes his own way. He has to start a business accepting this motto. But many come to the business and become frustrated after counting losses. You have to understand the market to avert risk. The intelligent entrepreneurs do that. They analyse the market through international networking. They always have to analyse the rise and fall in the price of goods, whether demand is rising or falling.
What is necessary to overcome obstacles?
First, people must change their mindset. It has to be started at the family level because family is the main strength of a person. One cannot become an entrepreneur if he does not get inspiration from there. Change in educational structure is necessary. Now everybody studies with the aim of getting a job. More emphasis needs to be given on technical education. In addition to that, the entrepreneurs have to be given loans on easy terms.
Besides, the system of money transactions for exporting commodities and international trade has to be made easy.
What is the JCI?
The JCI is an international platform. Young entrepreneurs from different countries work here. As a result, the members here can easily know about businesses in any country. It is also a platform for contacting businessmen from different countries. It started operating in Chattogram in 2013. Now we have more than 100 members. The JCI has 14 chapters all over the country. Anybody aged between 18 and 40 years can work with the JCI.
For whom the JCI works?
Many want to become entrepreneurs. They have business acumen and talent. But they do not become interested in business as there is no platform. They think business is complex. So they become interested in jobs. JCI assists by giving advice on how people can expand their business and start new businesses.
For this, regular training is arranged which focus on how much capital will be required and how it can be collected, and what is the future prospect of the business. We run campaigns in universities to encourage new entrepreneurs. Besides, we also arrange fairs.
What have you gained from the JCI?
I became a member of the JCI family in 2015. I learned from this organisation how to lead. I also built up a network in different countries. As a member of the JCI family, I visited South Korea, India, and Malaysia. I have made contacts with businessmen working in different sectors in those countries. I have got connected and invited them to do business in Chattogram. I got these opportunities through JCI.