Trade Forum Features

Bangladeshi IT sector building business links to Europe

2 May 2014
ITC News
A programme matching Continental clients with IT providers in Bangladesh has benefited both groups in a business sense while greatly increasing export revenue for the developing Asian nation.

Thanks to the Business-to-Business Matchmaking Service offered by the Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services, Bangladesh's IT and ITES services industries are growing rapidly. © ITC

Exports by several Bangladeshi IT companies have risen by over a fifth following their participation in a business matchmaking scheme run by the Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS).

‘The Business-to-Business Matchmaking Service is an extremely effective way of establishing reliable business contacts and saves time and money on both sides,’ said

BASIS President Shameem Ahsan. ‘On-site visits from foreign companies help to demonstrate the existing business strength and volume of the IT sector in Bangladesh and to create joint ventures.’

The service, which matches companies in Bangladesh with businesses in Europe, has introduced its members to more than 200 buyers. Twenty-four member companies have signed new export contracts, increasing export revenue by an average of 20%, while 25% of these companies reported sustained export growth.

BASIS, the national trade body for the software and IT Enabled Services (ITES) industry, has provided support to the sector since 1997. Its 700 members have 30,000 employees and account for the lion’s share of the software and IT services industry of Bangladesh, with annual sales of around US$ 250 million.

The software and ITES industry in Bangladesh expanded 56% in the last financial year, the highest growth rate of all sectors, achieving export revenue of US$ 100 million.

The matchmaking service offers tailor-made services for foreign companies that want to explore new business opportunities in Bangladesh. Potential clients are briefed on the country’s business practices and its IT and ITES sector before taking part in at least three meetings with potential Bangladeshi providers in the BASIS office. Follow-up company visits are arranged if needed.

BASIS also organizes missions abroad for export-ready Bangladeshi companies in the IT and ITES sector wishing to pursue clients in a selected country or a group of countries. A minimum of two and a maximum of 14 tailor-made meetings are organized in the office of the partner organization.

Twelve specialised business matchmaking events were organized between January 2011 and June 2013, two in Denmark, three in the Netherlands, three in the United Kingdom, one in Germany and three in Bangladesh, during the annual SoftExpo Trade Fair.

Brain Station-23, a Bangladeshi software outsourcing company, is among those that has benefited from the matchmaking service. Founded in 2006, it employs more than 80 people and had revenue of nearly US$ 1 million in 2013. After working primarily in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, Brain Station-23 is now established in Denmark thanks to assistance from BASIS. The company received the HSBC Export Excellence Award 2013 in the category for small and medium-sized enterprises, for its leadership in promoting Bangladesh abroad and contributing to the country’s sustainable economic growth.

Another beneficiary of the scheme is Structured Data Systems. A specialized software development centre based in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, it has been providing technological and specialized software engineering services to small and medium-sized international companies for almost 20 years. It was one of the winners of the BASIS Outsourcing Award in 2013 because of its outstanding commitment to its clients and for helping to raise exports by the Bangladeshi software industry.

‘The matchmaking service has opened up new export markets to our members,' Ahsan said of the BASIS initiative. ‘We have crafted a roadmap for the next five years with specific milestones and targets and plan to earn

US$ 1 billion from software and ITES exports.’

The International Trade Centre has also been active in Bangladesh. Its Netherlands Trust Fund Phase II project, funded by the Dutch government, focused on strengthening the Bangladeshi IT sector links with targeted European markets from 2009 to 2013, assisting the country in building a stronger image and branding itself as an attractive outsourcing destination.

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