Bangladesh is a country with a rich history of entrepreneurship and innovation. Over the years, the country has produced a number of successful entrepreneurs who have made significant impacts in their respective fields. With an unwavering conviction to digitally solve people’s day-to-day needs, these entrepreneurs have contributed significantly to the country’s economic development and have set an example for the next generation of business leaders. In this list, we will take a look at the top ten young entrepreneurs in Bangladesh who are making waves in the business world. These individuals are all driven, forward-thinking, and passionate about their work, and they are helping to shape the future of the country’s business landscape.
List of Top 10 Successful Bangladeshi Entrepreneurs
- Afeef Zaman (ShopUp)
- Fahad Ifaz (iFarmer)
- Zeeshan Zakaria (Shikho)
- Ayman Sadiq (10 Minute School)
- Hussain M Elias (Pathao)
- Waseem Alim (Chaldal)
- Sylvana Quader Chowdhury (Praava Health)
- Reyasat Chowdhury (Shuttle)
- Nazmul Sheik (Shajgoj)
- Anayet Rashid (Truck Lagbe)
1. Afeef Zaman (ShopUp)
Afeef Zaman is the CEO of ShopUp, Bangladesh’s largest B2B e-commerce platform for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises. He is very fond of technology, and during his time in college, he founded his first tech-based startup “Ice9” in 2012. At that time, he had a team of 150 people, and their company generated a revenue of around $3 million. However, he founded ShopUp with the goal of giving MSMEs a superfluous advantage by expediting their technology adoption. With over 655,000 merchants, ShopUp is currently Bangladesh’s leading full-stack B2B platform for MSMEs. ShopUp makes it simple for MSMEs to get digital credit, B2B sourcing, logistics, and business management solutions. Last year, ShopUp raised the largest funding in the South Asian market and is currently running its operation in Bangladesh and India. Afeef is an expert problem-solver in emerging markets and hopes that one day, small enterprises will be the ones to set the standards by which large corporations must abide. In addition, he is a passionate optimist who strongly believes in the potential of young, entrepreneurial Bangladeshis.
2. Fahad Ifaz (iFarmer)
Fahad Ifaz is the Co-Founder & CEO of iFarmer, an agri-tech startup based in Bangladesh that provides a one-stop solution for small-scale farmers to connect with buyers, sell their products directly, and offer financial and advisory services. Fahad Ifaz founded iFarmer in 2018 with the goal of helping small farmers in Bangladesh earn a better income and improve their livelihoods, by connecting them directly with buyers rather than relying on intermediaries. The platform allows farmers to list and sell their products online, which has improved access to markets and increase income for thousands of small farmers in Bangladesh. So far, the platform has facilitated more than 80,000 farmers with BDT 2.1 billion. Fahad holds an undergraduate degree in International Business and an M.Sc. in Economics. He is passionate about using technology to solve social and economic problems and has ten years of experience in economic development with organizations like the World Bank, CARE International, Swisscontact, and Palladium.
3. Zeeshan Zakaria (Shikho)
Zeeshan Zakaria is the Co-Founder and COO of Shikho, a Bangladeshi EdTech startup that garnered a lot of popularity across the country. Zeeshan was born and raised in Dhaka, Bangladesh, before moving to the UK for higher studies in 2004. There he finished his B.Sc Hons in Economics and Mathematics from the Royal Holloway University and MA in International Politics from the University of Manchester. Later, he also graduated from the Secondary Mathematics Teaching Programme at the University College London Institute of Education. After that, Zeeshan left to pursue his finance career and became a mathematics teacher. He has taught in schools in England and Brunei, as well as Bangladesh. Zeeshan, along with his friend Shahir Chowdhury, founded Shikho in 2019. They started by covering the complete syllabus of general mathematics for students of class nine to ten, which was entirely funded by their own money. Currently, the platform provides animated lessons and online coaching to SSC, HSC, and admission test aspirants through its dedicated web portal and the Shikho App. Shikho has over 1.8 lakh learning materials taught by over 50 experienced mentors to students through live classes. So far, more than 25 lakh students from Class 9 to Class 12 have been trained through this platform. Moreover, Shiko has another venture called, “Bohubrihi” that offers fundamental and career growth courses for students and freelancers as skill development solutions.
4. Ayman Sadiq (10 Minute School)
Ayman Sadiq is a Bangladeshi entrepreneur and education activist who founded 10 Minute School in 2014, with the intention to provide affordable, high-quality education to the students in Bangladesh as well as the rest of the world. The platform offers a wide range of courses in subjects like Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and English, which has grown to become one of the leading education platforms in Bangladesh. Ayman Sadiq graduated from IBA, Dhaka University, after which he began his career as a teacher at MENTOR’S. This ultimately led him to becoming motivated to start an online learning platform. Since the platform’s inception, 10MS has become one of the largest go-to educational websites for Bangladeshi students as well as professionals. In addition to his work with 10 Minute School, Ayman Sadiq is also involved in various other education-related initiatives and is recognized as a leading advocate for education reform in Bangladesh. Throughout his career, he received numerous recognitions, among which the Queen’s Young Leader Award 2018, Unilever’s Future Leaders’ League, BRAC Manthan Digital Innovation Award, and Swiss Embassy Award for Social Impact are the most notable.
5. Hussain M Elias (Pathao)
Pathao is one of the fastest-growing ride-sharing startup companies in Bangladesh. With two other co-founders, Fahim Saleh and Sifat Adnan, Hussain M Elius started Pathao, revolutionizing Bangladesh’s transport system. Since childhood, Hussain M Elius has been quite meritorious. He began to learn coding in class 6 and has been freelancing since high school. Later, he completed his graduation in 2013 and post-graduation in 2015 from North South University. In mid-2015, Hussain M Elius and Shifat Adnan started Pathao, with only three delivery agents. Then in just one year, the team grew from 3 to 60, with five fully functional centers, which are located in Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet, Khulna, and Rajshahi. Currently, Pathao has the capacity to complete more than 500 deliveries each day, and this number has been increasing daily. Apart from parcel, e-commerce, and food delivery services, Pathao also offers 14+ other services, including ride-sharing, logistics, payments, BNPL, and more. By 2021, Pathao scaled up with 300,000+ drivers and reached over 8mil+ users. Currently, this venture is being operated in Bangladesh and Nepal. And because of his commendable contribution to Bangladesh’s transportation network, in 2019, Hossein M Elias was featured in Forbes 30 Under 30. However, as of late 2021, he stepped down as CEO of Pathao and is serving currently only as an advisory board member.
6. Waseem Alim (Chaldal)
Waseem Alim started Chaldal with his partners Zia Ashraf and Tejas Viswanath in 2013. Now, he is serving as the CEO of the company. Chaldal is an online platform that lets people order groceries from a digital shop, which delivers them to the user’s doorstep. This way, they don’t have to spend hours stuck in Dhaka’s terrible traffic. Before starting Chaldal, Waseem obtained a finance and entrepreneurship degree from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and worked as the Director of Product Strategy at Sigfig, a Silicon Valley financial technology startup. After leaving Sigfig, Waseem returned to Bangladesh with a plan to change how business is done here. He saw potential in Bangladesh’s vegetable and food supply chain, as well as several inefficiencies. For example, farmers had to throw away crops, retailers couldn’t predict how the market would change, and consumers had to settle for low-quality fresh food. After Chaldal launched, the platform became quite popular in urban areas, and since then, the platform has grown from being just an online grocery store to one of the top tech companies in the country. The Chaldal Vegetable Network directly connects farmers with retailers and ensures that both parties are satisfied. It also allows customers to track everything in the supply chain, so they can be sure of the quality of the product and know what the prices will be. Waseem is very committed to using data analytics to improve Chaldal’s performance, and he wants the platform to become the operating system for the whole economy.
7. Sylvana Quader Chowdhury (Praava Health)
Sylvana Quader Sinha is the CEO and founder of Praava Health, a network of family health centers. She was born and brought up in Virginia, USA. After completing high school, she completed her bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Economics from Wellesley College of Massachusetts and pursued her post-graduate degree in law at Columbia University, and International Development at John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. However, as a Bangladeshi American, all her relatives live in Bangladesh, and since her childhood, the Bangladeshi people’s vibrant nature has always inspired her. That’s why she always wanted to do something special for her home country. Meanwhile, when Sylvana’s mother fell ill in 2010, she was admitted for a basic surgery in one of the top hospitals in Bangladesh. But due to mistreatment, her mother and her whole family suffered a lot. She even noticed extreme indifference among the doctors regarding her mother’s treatment. Following this, she realized that despite good doctors in the country, patients are being deprived of quality treatment due to systemic problems. With this in mind, she started the journey of Praava Health in 2016. Praava is a combination of two Bengali words: Pran (Life) and Aava (Beam). Currently, Praava has 50+ doctors and has already served more than 5 million patients. Moreover, it can cover 250+ types of tests from 6 international quality labs. Also, Praava is fully integrated with the “Hospital Information System” and “Health Electronic Record,” through which patients can access their medical information and make appointments. Sylvana intends to spread awareness about Praava Health across the country and wants to provide international quality health treatment to the people of her nation.
8. Reyasat Chowdhury (Shuttle)
Reyasat Chowdhury is the co-founder of Shuttle, a Dhaka-based transportation service startup that was initially formed to provide safe transportation facilities for women, which has now evolved to serve everyone. Reyasat is a business graduate from North South University, who has attended the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Bootcamp at MIT. After graduation, he joined Robi Axiata Ltd. and worked as a product service specialist for two years before starting Shuttle. Since his early days, Reyasat has been interested in improving the world through innovation and redesign. This passion led him to co-found Shuttle in 2018 with two other partners, Jawwad Jahangir and Shah Sufian Mahmud Chowdhury. Shuttle aims to provide people with safe, affordable, and comfortable transportation facilities. All Shuttle vehicles are equipped with CCTV for passenger safety, and each car has a trip manager. To jump-start this initiative, Shuttle received a substantial amount of investment from Robi through r-Ventures, and as of now, Shuttle has completed more than 1 million rides on 80 routes. Since its inception, the startup has raised around $1 million and has 30,000 registered users. For the tremendous social impact created by Shuttle, Reyasat and Jawad are two of the seven Bangladeshis who made it to Forbes 30 under 30 list in 2022.
9. Nazmul Sheik (Shajgoj)
Nazmul Sheikh is the CEO, MD, and founder of Shajgoj, the country’s leading beauty and personal care e-commerce platform. After graduating from BUET as an electrical engineer, he joined Grameenphone, and later in 2008, he moved to Nigeria to work as a telecom consultant. With 10+ years of experience in telecom operations in Asia and Africa, Nazmul never thought about going into the beauty industry in his wildest dreams. However, when he realized that the telecom industry was becoming saturated, he started playing with ideas and noticed that Bangladesh had quite an undersized market in beauty products back then. So, he decided to start Shajgoj with his wife, Sinthia Sharmin Islam, and friend Milky Mahmud. Since there was no major competitor in Bangladesh in the field of skincare, hair care, and makeup, they launched Shajgoj in 2013. 2.5 years later, they had their first store in Jamuna Future Park, and one year later, they opened Shajgoj’s second outlet in Shimanto Sombhar. In 2018, Shajgoj started its online operation. Currently, Shajgoj has four lakh customers, among which 70% of them are recurring. Shajgoj is currently the third largest e-commerce platform in Bangladesh, after Daraj and Chaldal.
10. Anayet Rashid (Truck Lagbe)
Anayet Rashid is the founder and CEO of Truck Lagbe, an online marketplace that connects truck owners/drivers, and shippers. After completing SSC and HSC from Shaheen School and College in Dhaka, Anayet joined the Independent University Of Bangladesh for higher studies. But after staying for just one semester, he moved to North South University. In his senior year, with one semester left, Anayet dropped out and began focusing on his business. Later, in 2007, he finished his graduation, and since then, he has been associated with several sectors, including the manufacturing and spice supply industry. In 2017, Anayet Rashid and his partner Mir Hossain Ekram, while sending shipments to Jessore, they noticed that, within a week, the transportation cost had exceeded a margin of 400 percent even though the pick-up and delivery destination were the same. They thought about doing something about this and eventually came up with the idea of “Truck Lagbe.” They launched the platform with seven shareholders in the same year. At present, there are about 8000 trucks under Truck Lagbe. The platform works at both ends – customers can easily hire trucks to transport goods through the app, and truck drivers also receive a decent remuneration for their services. Among the eight finalists of the Startup World Cup 2020 Bangladesh Region, Truck Lagbe won the second runner-up position. To make Bangladesh’s transport industry more dynamic, Anayet Rashid wants to spread this service across the country.
How Are Bangladeshi Entrepreneurs Shaping The Countries Economy?
Bangladeshi entrepreneurs have played a significant role in shaping the country’s economy over the past few decades. As a result, the country’s economy has been growing rapidly, and this growth has been driven mainly by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs. One of the key ways that Bangladeshi entrepreneurs have contributed to the country’s economic development is by creating new businesses and job opportunities. These businesses have not only provided employment and income for their owners and employees, but have also contributed to the country’s overall economic development by generating foreign exchange and tax revenues.
In addition to starting new businesses, many Bangladeshi entrepreneurs have also been involved in modernizing and improving existing businesses and industries. This has involved adopting new technologies and management practices, as well as increasing the efficiency and competitiveness of their businesses. Overall, Bangladeshi entrepreneurs have played a crucial role in driving economic growth and development in the country, and their contributions are likely to continue to be important in the future.