Archives Journey

Zahedul Amin’s Journey

Exposure Visit to Singapore to Meet Government Agencies, Fintechs, Financial Institutions

Last week, I was in Singapore as part of a delegation consisting of representatives from Bangladesh Banka2iSmall and Medium Enterprise Foundation (SME Foundation)LightCastle Partners, and The Frontier Technology Policy Experimentation and Regulatory Sandboxes program, spearheaded by UNDESA and a2i, intends to facilitate a regulatory sandbox for fostering digital lending to MSMEs in Bangladesh. LightCastle Partners has been providing technical assistance to the program since last year.

During the exposure visit, we met senior representatives from different government agencies (IMDAEnterprise Singapore), social ecosystem enablers (Impact Investment Exchange (IIX)), Financial Institutions (Citi), and Fintech (TVS Digital Pte. Ltd.ADERA GlobalArtha CreditAccredify). These interactions have enabled our regulators and stakeholders to gain interesting perspectives and may eventually lead to necessary policy-level adjustments.

Sharing some of my key takeaways from our meetings:

The Singapore government, through IMDA, has latched on to the COVID-induced adoption of digital payments and has invested in demand- and supply-led initiatives to mainstream digital payments. IMDA’s efforts in educating MSMEs owners to adopt digital payments have also led to a marked improvement in the payments ecosystem.

Enhanced digital payment transactions at the MSME level have enabled Fintechs to efficiently use their credit scoring algorithm to evaluate the creditworthiness of micro and small enterprises.

Enterprise Singapore has been playing a pivotal role in supporting localized micro and small enterprises, enabling better connectivity with other ecosystem actors, and matching funds for greater adoption of innovative technological solutions.

Singapore’s regulatory system encourages the flotation of innovative financial products like Women’s Livelihood Bonds and Orange Bonds on the Singapore Stock Exchange, enabling organizations like IIX to invest in impact-driven MSMEs.

In the coming week, I’m hoping to write a detailed piece based on my reflections and learnings from the visit.

Presenting the findings of the IFC Publication- Tackling Childcare in Bangladesh

LightCastle has recently completed a study for IFC titled- ‘Tackling Childcare in Bangladesh: The Business Benefits and Challenges of Employer-Supported Childcare’. We talked to 300+ employers and 40 other stakeholders to better understand the existing childcare infrastructure landscape in an effort to identify the business case for setting up employer supported childcare facilities. The policy paper was launched yesterday with IFC’s country manager, Wendy Werner, ministry officials and top private and development sector leaders in attendance. Genuinely hope this paper will play a minuscule role in creating a more gender inclusive workforce.

You can download the publication from here:

Judging at Seedstar’s Pitch Competition

Seedstars has recently hosted the local finale of the pitching competition in Bangladesh, which is part of a series of local competitions hosted across the world for seed stage companies. The winning team will be representing Bangladesh in the regional pitching competition. I had a privilege of attending the competition as part of the judging panel and came across a bunch of exciting startups. Thanks to the local Seedstars team for inviting me.

Training Session for Women Entrepreneurs supported by WEConnect International and IFC

As part of LightCastle’s engagement with WEConnect International and IFC, conducted capacity building sessions on business strategy, pitching and forward market development for women entrepreneurs. Really enjoyed interacting with a bunch of promising entrepreneurs from sectors ranging from ICT, Jute diversified product, architecture, catering to handicrafts.

Session with Entrepreneurs and Executives for the Richardson Center

recently hosted a session for a visiting group of US based entrepreneurs and executives on the opportunities of Bangladesh as an investment destination. It was a privilege to share the Bangladesh story in presence of Mr. Arif Khan, Managing Director, IDLC Finance and Ms. Tina Jabeen, Investment Adviser, Startup Bangladesh, ICT Ministry.