Bangladeshi IT company Primetech secures Nigerian contract, enters African market
Mirza Rashedul Amin likes to think big. But sometimes, says the managing director of the Bangladeshi offshore outsourcing company Primetech, it is the first small steps that really make a difference.
Primetech has taken those first small steps in Africa, recently securing a contract in Nigeria with Swiftbeds, an electronic wholesaler in the travel trade industry, to develop a booking platform for tourism services, such as hotels and transport. The project, which went live in April, was worth $8,000, according to Amin. But the value of the contract was worth far more than that, he explains, because it served as Primetech’s doorway to the African market.
‘I am getting a chance to open a new market in Africa, which is a huge market,’ Amin said. ‘You cannot imagine how important that market is for my company. We can make a good percentage of profits there.’
Swiftbeds and Primetech are now preparing for the second phase of the project, which Amin says is needed because ‘tourism is changing every day, so we need to change the software and the applications’. He expects the project to be worth substantially more than $8,000.
Amin met his Nigerian partner at a business-to-business (B2B) meeting during the International Trade Centre’s (ITC) flagship event, the World Export Development Forum (WEDF), in Doha, Qatar, last October.
It was not the first time he had participated in such a meeting. As a beneficiary of the ITC Netherlands Trust Fund (NTF) III project in Bangladesh, which supports information technology (IT) and IT-enabled services companies in the country to enhance their export competiveness, Primetech has attended several business-to-business (B2B) events. However, according to Amin, the 2015 WEDF was one of the most successful ones for the Dhaka-based company.
‘B2B events are tough,’ Amin said. ‘You have only 30 minutes, and it’s a very long process to convince someone in Europe. But at WEDF, we met with representatives from the African market, which is really growing and looking for cost-competitive solutions. It’s a very good market for us.’
Primetech is not stopping there. Amin’s Nigerian contact referred him to another client in Nairobi, where Primetech plans to start working in September. The company is creating a software system to manage bookings for safaris. While it is too early to predict how the project will evolve, Amin says he is optimistic, as Primetech’s work in both Kenya and Nigeria will serve as strong selling points for when the company pitches for contracts in other African countries.
Next April, Amin will travel to Cape Town, South Africa, for the World Travel Market Africa trade fair, a trade and tourism event during which he plans to network with African businesses that may be seeking the kind of services that Primetech offers.
‘It’s very important to meet people face-to-face,’ he said. ‘It’s really tough on a Skype call to convince someone who wants to spend $10,000 that we are the right company to develop a product. By meeting face-to-face, I can see the physical movements, how he reacts. I can also express myself to clients.’
This is particularly true when it comes to large, long-term projects, Amin says. This is one area where Primetech’s participation in the NTF III programme has proven invaluable, he says. NTF III helped the company to develop an export market plan and has provided training, but according to Amin, it’s the B2B meetings that have been instrumental to Primetech’s success.
‘It’s very important to meet people face-to-face,’ Amin said. ‘The big projects, the long-term projects – without B2Bs it’s not possible. For the kinds of projects we really want to do, B2Bs are a must.’
Learn more about the ITC Netherlands Trust Fund III programme, funded by the Dutch Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI), affiliated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.