We don’t want war anymore. Our world has seen the horrors of war for centuries. War can never bring any good. Now it’s time to stand up for humanity and make a strong movement against any form of combat. May humanity be awakened, may barbarism end forever.
This June 2021 issue concentrates on a Public-private partnership project of Bangladesh. A public-private partnership, or PPP, is a contract between a governmental body and a private entity, with the goal of providing some public benefit, either an asset or a service. Public-private partnerships typically are long-term and involve large corporations on the private side. Popular in many European countries, PPPs have gotten off to a relatively slow start in the United States, but they are increasingly used for large-scale infrastructure and public works projects. Most of the PPP projects in recent decades have been extremely successful. The high-occupancy toll lanes project in Virginia of the United States is a good example. Governments and private companies increasingly recognize the benefits of sharing resources for a common cause. As a result, PPPs are evolving in both developed and emerging markets.
Bangladesh Post Office (an attached department of the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication, Bangladesh) and Bank Asia Limited signed an MOU to expand the financial services to the citizens delivered by both of these organizations. The agreement has immense symbolic and functional value.
Bank Asia is the pioneer of Agent Banking in Bangladesh, and it has an enormous positive impact on Bangladesh Economy. On the other hand, Bangladesh Post Office has been serving the nation throughout the country for more than 150 years since its inception. During the journey of developing Digital Bangladesh, it has also taken a large number of digital initiatives to provide digital services to the people. Technology-based development is the common theorem of both parties. So we believe this collaborated new initiative named Post Office Banking will perform a significant role in Bangladesh in the digital financial ecosystem.
We are delighted to inform you that the former Governor of Bangladesh Bank, Dr. Atiur Rahman, has enriched our magazine with his excellent and precious writing. This time he has written an extraordinary article on Sustainable Finance for Green Recovery. Sir, we are grateful for your heartiness and continued writing.
I hope you will love every section of the magazine like every time.
Md. Arfan Ali President & Managing Director Bank Asia Limited
Mr. Md. Arfan Ali is currently the President & Managing Director of Bank Asia Limited. He joined Bank Asia as an AVP on September 13, 1999, three months before the commercial opening of the bank. During the initial years at the Bank, Mr. Arfan was in charge of the Treasury Department. Subsequent to that, he was the Head of two of the major Bank Asia branches, namely: Principal Office Branch and MCB Banani Branch.
Mr. Arfan started his career as a Probationary Officer in Arab Bangladesh Bank Limited on May 02, 1991. Prior to joining Bank Asia, he worked for Hanil Bank (now Woori Bank) of South Korea from 1996 to 1999.
Apart from working for the Bank, Mr. Arfan worked as a Part-Time Lecturer for IBA, Jahangir Nagar University for six years. He is one of the resource persons for the Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management (BIBM), Dhaka. He obtained his MBA from the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), University of Dhaka. Actively involved in the enhancement of formal and informal education for rural people, Arfan enjoys reading, recitation, fishing, and farming.
Mr. Arfan is one of the prominent leaders in the corporate world of Bangladesh, which is marked with his exceptional achievements. He knows the banking systems and policies like the back of his hand. He is the pioneer of Agent Banking in Bangladesh. The languages and even the logic would not be enough for what Mr. Arfan is gradually doing for the institution that he works for; the nationalistic endeavor in everything done by him makes him one of the most regarded banking professionals in the history of Bangladesh.
The InCAP team indeed had an interesting tête-à-tête with him regarding his life journey, career experiences, and dream projects.
Let’s explore; let’s learn. Happy Reading!
Cogitation of Work
The InCAP: The pandemic is suspected to plunge most countries into recession in 2021, with per capita income contracting in the most significant fraction of countries globally since 1870. No doubt, it’s a historic contraction of per capita income. Advanced economies are projected to shrink 7 percent. In this situation, what is your observation regarding the economy of Bangladesh?
Md. Arfan Ali: Thank you for your observations. You can see from the international data that many economies are narrowing, the reasons being lockdown and inactivity in the industry. But in Bangladesh, we have done pretty well in terms of controlling the situation. Government guidelines and assistance, and the resilience of the people helped us keep going. We know that Bangladesh is growing by more than 4 percent, and this rate is expected to reach 8 percent in the next year.
The backbone of the economy is the agricultural sector, which was not harmed amidst the pandemic. Industries and production houses were open by maintaining social distance. These eased the economy to maintain stability. The resilience of entrepreneurs showing their courage and doing their best to cope with the situation is another factor helping the economy under such distressing conditions.
We believe that Bangladesh will emerge as a more resilient and economically sound country. Preventing Covid-19 cases will play a vital role in building confidence. The good news is that export orders are returning. This first quarter is a good indicator that both exports and imports are increasing compared to last quarter. This means that the country’s economy is intact and will be doing good.
Small and medium enterprises are facing bleak conditions, which is subject to great uncertainty and significant downside risk. Does the banking sector have any initiative to solve their crisis? Is there any special effort from Bank Asia?
The SME segment needs special attention and nurturing. They are spread out all across the country, and this geographical dispersion makes it difficult to serve them. Since most bankers are unwilling to take on the challenge, bank branches cannot be established in remote areas. Moreover, SMEs are vulnerable to small economic changes and the risk aversion of the bankers makes the condition worse.
Current legacy structures of banking – driven by brick & mortar branches and human intervention – result in higher operating costs, poor credit decisions, and higher lending interest rates. The legacy banking system has failed to improve customer experience and attract a new generation of the middle class to the bank branch. Digital banking builds the whole service experience from the ground up, keeping customer experience at the core.
Bank Asia looks forward to extending its innovation and financial inclusion programs through Digital Banking. Bank Asia’s Digital Banking will ensure complete banking for the unreached people at the last mile without traditional physical branches. This Digital Banking platform will run entirely online, similar to many other digital banks run in different countries across the world. We have applied to the Central Bank for a Digital Banking Subsidiary, which will make our economy more vibrant by extending digital credit to the cottage and micro-small enterprises (CMSEs) more efficiently.
During this pandemic, bank employees risked their own lives to provide banking services effectively. We have deep respect for them, but it is not desirable to take such risks. Experts think that this time demands changes in the infrastructure of banking services. Mr. Arfan, what kind of changes do you think should be brought?
For any service industry, change is always constant. The pandemic exposed us to challenges and opportunities at the same time. Coronavirus is fueling the movement towards digital banking. Banks are focusing more on strengthening capacity to handle an influx of digital banking demands. Process reengineering, service automation, artificial intelligence, robotic process automation, web-based banking portal, mobile applications, chatbots, etc. are some of the technologies that banks have been opting for. It is high time to acquaint the customer with self-serviced banking facilities.
Agent Banking has already adopted the contactless validation alternative for payments to social safety net customers. E-KYC and online credit approval processes are inevitable to make the operation faster and convenient. Commercial banks must think of adopting alternative credit scoring methods for providing loans to the mass population living in rural areas. The distributed existence of banking services eliminates the need for intermediaries to authorize financial transactions between consumers. Interoperability of the financial service operators is now mandatory to offer customers more flexibility for conducting financial transactions.
Bank Asia has been providing Agent Banking services since 2014, and this service has reached the union level of Bangladesh. We would like to know about this outstanding project.
A number of banks have emerged with several technology-driven innovative banking solutions to accelerate the national financial inclusion drive under prudent directives and support from our Central Bank. Bank Asia pioneered Agent Banking in 2014 for rural financial inclusion under the auspices of Bangladesh Bank. The bank is extending a full range of banking services to unbanked citizens across the country. With a vast network of more than 4500 agent outlets, Bank Asia’s Agent Banking is reaching almost 4.5 million customers across all 64 districts of Bangladesh.
Bank Asia adopted its pioneering ‘micro-branch’ model in agent banking. Recently it introduced an innovative business model of ‘rural micro-merchant’ towards building a complete digital banking ecosystem for the rural economy. Agent banking, in contrast to other branchless banking, is largely driven by an exclusive specialized agent model. An outlet in agent banking is exclusive for Bank Asia and distinctly branded by various permanent marketing collaterals and point-of-sale materials (POSM), giving the outlet the look and feel of a branch. This model focuses on the three stakeholders: the bank itself, banking agents, and customers.
Bank Asia has 3 categories of agent outlets 1. Individual 2. Union Digital Centre (UDC) 3. E-Post centers by Bangladesh Post Office (BPO). Individual outlets are run by individual entrepreneurs, whereas UDCs and e-Post Centers are run by the designated entrepreneurs assigned by the Local Government Division (LGD) and Bangladesh Post Office.
With the government’s Union Digital Center (UDC) support, Bank Asia is poised for the rapid expansion of its banking service to the grassroots. Following the trends, we jumped into another strategic alliance with the Bangladesh Post Office for the implementation of post office agent banking under the banner of “Digital Daakghar” by BPO. I believe that the union digital center and the e-Post Centers will become the center of all development activities in rural Bangladesh. We have already disbursed a major chunk of social safety net payments through UDCs. This is, in fact, the vision of the government, making these digital centers the hub of major economic activities.
In this edition, we’ve presented detailed coverage of the Post Office Banking project of Bank Asia. Consequently, people will be quite well aware of this initiative. But we want to know the backstory of this project from you.
Previously some of the post office e-centers used to provide basic financial services of CICO (cash-in and cash-out) through collaboration with a few MFS providers. Considering the need for under-served segments across the country and to give a boost to the local economy and help post-office entrepreneurs earn more, Bank Asia has already developed a strategic relationship with the Bangladesh Post Office through public-private partnership (PPP). Under the arrangement, people are getting banking services from Digital Post e-Centres across the country. We have connected these booths with the national payment switch of Bangladesh Bank, making it convenient for rural people to get mainstream banking services. We’ve already activated nearly 750 agent banking outlets at the Digital Post e-Centres, aiming to bring more unbanked people into the digital banking ecosystem to accelerate the ongoing financial inclusion intervention across the country. We’re now working relentlessly with the vision that “every adult in our country will have a bank account; every village in our country will have a financial kiosk”.
We all know you are one of the prominent scholars in the banking sector. We want to know what the biggest considered threats and problems throughout the world in this sector are today. What should be the way of passage?
The biggest threat, in my opinion, is the concentration risk. It may be in the geographic area, industrial area, or even in the housing sector. Generally, bankers take decisions on a historical basis based on the experience of looking at other competitors. One observation is that when an economy prospers, the citizens are empowered and they take decisions based on the upward adjustment of asset prices. It is seen in the USA, Japan, Korea, and Hong Kong. People of Bangladesh are now very interested in purchasing houses and maximizing their wealth even during this pandemic. However, the return on this investment does not commensurate with the amount invested. Moreover, the investment will not be profitable when the interest rate rises.
Other factors are also disrupting the sector. The distribution of credit is not particularly aligned with our growth prospects. In Bangladesh, SME holds a big expectancy in growth. But bankers tend to invest in corporations. Thus, they are missing this great opportunity of providing credit to SMEs and diversifying their portfolio.
We need to finance small and medium enterprises that are spreading across the country. One of the main functions of a bank is the efficient distribution of credit. When it fails to do so, the growth potential of the sector is diminished. SMEs are the highest employment creator of any economy. Therefore, they need to be focused on. Things might change if banks can remodel their way of operating, like improvements in policies, using third parties for the collection, building relations with SMEs, data collection from the market, assessing the clients based on transaction data, etc.
Mr. Arfan, people respect you as their professional mentor and leader. Your advice is incredibly important for everyone. We’re expecting some guidelines from you.
As a banker, I’m always focused on the betterment of our clients. One’s career objective should be something like how much one can do for the people. If you focus on doing something new and try to think about the benefits to the masses, then there are a lot of scopes to work on. Do not look for the money. Don’t take monetary satisfaction as the primary concern.
Even when you are satisfied with your career, you can strive to do better. You must be ambitious, committed, and honest. Focus more on digitization in your career prospects as everything will move around that in the future.
You are one of the most prominent figures in the Bangladesh corporate world. But we thought we’d start this section by talking about your childhood. How were you as a child?
In my early childhood, I used to be an introvert. I was the third-youngest among my siblings. I was under the guidance of my sisters, with certain limitations and strict regulations as they were pretty protective. I had problems expressing myself. That was one thing that made me struggle in my childhood.
I lost my father when I was in the 9th grade and my mother in the 11th grade. These incidents affected me very much in my early stage of education and my growth, and created hardships for me, financially and mentally.
I was born in Shahjahanpur, Dhaka. My early childhood was spent in the open fields of Shahjahanpur. In those days, Dhaka was less crowded and more green. My father was a Railway Officer. After his retirement, we had to move to our village in Munshiganj. That was a really hard time for us in terms of continuing our education, as well as keeping our morale up in this competitive world. But after my father’s death in 1982, we came to Dhaka again. I started living with my elder sister. She helped me a lot, assisting me with my education and also providing much of the mental support that I needed at that time.
You said in one of your speeches – the Almighty made you a banker as the result of an arrogant occurrence in your student life! People want to hear the story. And if you were not a banker, what profession would you choose?
I was nominated for a stipend when I was in Notre Dame College based on the result of my SSC. So one day, I was checking in a bank and I was in a queue to withdraw my stipend money. In those days, banks were not that efficient. I was holding a token for over half an hour. Then the cashier came, and as I was a young student, I was quite arrogant. So I flipped the token and asked for the money. The cashier saw it. He went back, and after some time, he came with the money.
I still regret that arrogance. Now, as a banker, I have learned that bankers might sometimes be late to provide us with services. We should not express our arrogance to the person who is providing us with the service. That’s why, I always say that God has made me a banker to make me feel that particular pain which that cashier felt because of me.
To answer the last part of the question, if I hadn’t become a banker I’d probably want to be a teacher. I enjoy reading and learning, and imparting my knowledge to others gives me immense pleasure.
Okay, now let’s ask you a typical question – was there a turning point in your life? There must have been some trigger for this consistency in success!
The turning point was the death of my mother in 1985. I was in college then. I had just gotten my results from Notre Dame College. A month afterward, my mother passed away. That was very tough for me as I received a lot of guidance from my mother.
From that very day, I became more responsible, committed, and disciplined. I tried to do my best to overcome the situation. My mother always wanted to see me succeed. And, the measure of being successful was having a good job. So, I became more sincere in my studies and tried to work harder so that I could fulfill her wishes.
What’s your plan for your motherland Bangladesh?
I want to establish some institutions that will be dedicated to the financial emancipation of the common people. My major objective is to eradicate financial differences. It will not flatten but reduce the economic disparity in the society. Mostly my ambition is to provide more support to people who are deprived.
Personally, I’m very involved in the development of education in my village. There is one school which was set up early with the help of fellow villagers. In 1994, we founded a high school. Now it is a college as well. 750 students are currently studying over there.
What is your life philosophy?
I subscribe to the saying that life has no meaning. You give meaning to life, like I did to mine. You can do better if you plan a bright future and continue your services in the well-being of people and society. Whatever you do, do not let yourself think narrowly.
The InCAP: Thank you for your time and precious words.
Md. Arfan Ali: My pleasure. Thanks to the entire team of The InCAP. Wish you all the best.
Quick Chat with Mr. Arfan
The greatest achievement of your life as of now
Pioneering Agent Banking in Bangladesh
How do you define patriotism?
It is the best one can do for his country
The greatest philosopher in your view
Meaning of “success” to you
When you feel satisfied after doing something
Name the most influential book(s) you have read
Anna Karenina, Crime and Punishment, Hamlet
What did you want to be when you were a child?
Which is the best gift you’ve ever received?
Your greatest fear
Favorite Poet and Litterateur
William Shakespeare and Rabindranath Tagore
What motivates you?
The wellbeing of others
The most admirable personality from recent times in your opinion
Md. Siraz Uddin Director General Bangladesh Post Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh
Bangladesh Post Office has been serving the nation throughout the country for more than 150 years since its inception. During the journey of developing Digital Bangladesh, we have also taken a large number of digital initiatives to provide digital services to the people. Digital Post Office or Digital Dakghor is one of those initiatives. We have setup 8,500 Digital Post Offices across the country to deliver different types of Government and Non-Government digital services to ease the life of marginalized citizens by facilitating their inclusion and accessibility to the services. These Digital Post Offices are also providing ICT training to the unskilled youth of the rural communities.
Bangladesh Post Office and Bank Asia signed a memorandum of understanding to expand the financial services to the citizens delivered by both of these organizations. Addressing the broader scopes of that understanding Bank Asia has started to establish Agent Banks in the Digital Post Offices by appointing the Digital Post Office Entrepreneurs as the Bank Agents. Bank Asia is offering their agent banking services through these Digital Post Offices. People specially unbanked sections are getting banking services at their neighborhood and the national commitment of Financial Inclusion has taken a leap.
Bangladesh Post Office and Bank Asia are working together to include all in the financial network and to develop a new dimensional digital financial ecosystem. Receiving Foreign Remittance, payment of Utility Bills, payment of Social Safety Net allowances have become more convenient to the locality. In addition to this impact, Bank Asia is contributing to the rural economy by offering various loan schemes like Agriculture loan, SME Loan through these Digital Post Offices. The unbanked people are being immensely benefited.
This is obvious that the blending of a century old inclusive service standard and a modern digital banking service standard are going to create a new dimension of financial ecosystem of the country which wouldn’t be possible without the footstep of the Post Office in such partnership. We believe that this partnership and the created network would put a significant footprint in the journey of developing an inclusive and diversified financial ecosystem of Bangladesh.
An agreement has commenced a modern technological revolution of the banking sector in Bangladesh. It is between Bangladesh Post Office and Bank Asia Limited. They signed an MOU to expand the financial services to the citizens delivered by both of these organizations. Addressing the broader scopes of that understanding, Bank Asia has started to establish Agent Banks in the Digital Post Offices by appointing the Digital Post Office Entrepreneurs as the Bank Agents. Bank Asia is offering their Agent Banking services through these Digital Post Offices. People, especially unbanked sections, are getting banking services in their neighborhoods, and the national commitment to Financial Inclusion has taken a leap.
We all know that the Bangladesh Post Office has also known by the trade name Bangla Post is responsible for providing postal service in Bangladesh. It is an attached department of the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication (Bangladesh). This ministry is concerned with the policymaking for its two attached departments.
Since its inception, Bangladesh Post Office has been serving the nation throughout the country for more than 150 years. During the journey of developing Digital Bangladesh, they have also taken a large number of digital initiatives to provide digital services to the people of Bangladesh. Digital Post Office is one of those initiatives. They have set up 8,500 Digital Post Offices across the country to deliver different types of Government and Non-Government digital services to ease marginalized citizens’ lives by facilitating their inclusion and accessibility to the services.
Now let’s look a little further. In 1999, Bank Asia Ltd. was launched by a group of successful entrepreneurs with recognized standings in society. The management of the Bank consists of a team led by senior bankers with decades of experience in national and international markets. The senior management team is ably supported by a group of professionals, many of whom have exposure in the international market.
Bank Asia Limited started its service with a vision to serve people with modern and innovative banking products and services at an affordable charge. The bank’s commitment is to provide modern and value-added banking services to all segments of society by maintaining the truly best standard in a globalized world, with the help of technological advancements.
Moreover, Bank Asia Limited has been a major facilitator of Financial Inclusion in Bangladesh by providing banking services to the country’s remotest corners through pioneering Agent Banking services in Bangladesh during 2014. Since then, it’s been a remarkable story of financial inclusion with more than 3500+ outlets and 3 million+ customers across the rural areas of Bangladesh.
With a vision to build a poverty-free Bangladesh, in the future, Bank Asia wishes to open a bank account for every able person of the country despite of their socio-economic class by expanding the Agent Banking Network to a financial kiosk in every village of the country.
Bangladesh Post Office and Bank Asia are working together to include all in the financial network and to develop a new dimensional digital financial ecosystem.
So this great initiative of these two parties grabbed the attention of our editorial team. The InCAP squad focused on the entire project of the Post Office Banking.
Post Office Banking
Bank Asia is the pioneer in Agent Banking. Expanding Agent Banking through Individual/ Institutional Agents, UDC & Post Office.
Post Office Banking is an extension of Agent Banking of Bank Asia. Bank Asia and Bangladesh Post Office signed MOU to provide banking services through Digital Post Offices. Digital Post Office entrepreneurs are being appointed as agent upon receiving approval from Bangladesh Bank.
About Post Office
Postal Department is a service-oriented government institution under the Postal and Telecommunication Department of the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.
8,500 post offices have been converted to Digital Post Office and the Digital Post Offices are being provided under social security fences.
Services at Digital Post Offices:
Internet-Based College and University Admission
Country-Country Video Conference
Social Security Benefits under the Fences
Business Process Outsourcing
Post Office Banking Vision & Mission:
To bring low-cost, secured financial services to the doorstep of the unbanked people of Bangladesh as a part of financial inclusion for empowerment through Digital Post Offices.
The mission of Bank Asia & Bangladesh Post Office is to provide more protected financial inclusion by offering technology-driven banking solutions to the unbanked people living in rural and dispersed areas of Bangladesh.
Provide Secured Banking Services
Build 8,500 Agent Outlets in Digital Post Offices
Provide Foreign inward Remittance Services
Provide facilities for Utility bill payment, Passport fee payment, Social Safety Net Payment Services
Process Agricultural, SME & Retail Loan
Enable e-Commerce Services through Agents
Promote school banking in the locality
Train and Develop the prospective SME Entrepreneurs
Financing Solar Home System and renewable Energy Sectors as a Green Banking Initiative
Agent Banking: Bank Asia
Agent Banking, a very new but powerful and wide-ranged initiative in the journey of Financial Inclusion in Bangladesh. Bank Asia introduced this venture here in January 2014. Earlier in 2013, Bangladesh Bank accorded Bank Asia to roll out this specialized banking service. In span of a few years, this service spreads in multi-dimensional ways, reduces gap of time and space and becomes attractive to rural mass. The small droplets of deposit contribute in building strong platform of our promising economy, and thus infuses lifeline in our rural economy. Now marginal farmers, small entrepreneurs and general people enjoy loan facilities in easier and faster manner through this platform. To reach Agent Banking services at the doorsteps of rural people Government, non-government and development partners shake hands together.
Bank Asia Limited: At a Glance
Established in 1999.
Acquired Bank of Novo Scotia & Muslim Commercial Bank of Pakistan.
Technology Driven Bank in the industry
Ratings: Long Term AA2 Short term ST2
Customer: 5 million +
Deposit: BDT 284,426 million (USD 3386 million)
Advance: BDT 240,653 million (USD 2865 million)
Bank Asia Agent Banking: Competitive Landscape
Bank Asia pioneered Agent Banking in 2014 for rural financial inclusion under the auspices of Bangladesh Bank. The bank is extending full range of banking services to the last mile citizens across the country. Bank Asia, alone represents more than 50% of total female customers in Agent Banking. It serves more than 2.0 million social safety net (SSN) beneficiaries through its Agent Banking.
Bank Asia Agent Banking Concept
Agent Banking means providing Banking services to the Bank customers through the engaged agents under a valid agency agreements, rather than Teller/ Cashier. Agent is the owner of an outlet who conducts Banking Transactions on behalf of the Concerned Bank.
Agent banking, in contrast to other branchless banking, is largely driven by an exclusive specialized agent model. This could be due to initial investment requirements to set up an outlet: An outlet in agent banking is exclusive for Bank Asia and distinctly branded by various permanent marketing collaterals and point-of-sale materials (PoSMs). This requires 10-15 times higher investment than is needed for a typical mobile financial service agent outlet. This model focusses on the three stakeholders bank itself, banking agents and customers.
Agent Banking Model in Bangladesh
Master Agent & Agent
Support Service Provider
1. Cash deposit and cash withdrawal.
2. Inward foreign remittance disbursement.
3. Disbursement and repayment of loans.
4. Collections of bills/utility bills.
5. Collection of insurance premium.
6. Payment of retirement and social benefits.
7. Payment of salaries.
8. Transfer of funds.
9. Balance enquiry.
10. Generation and issuance of mini bank statements.
11. Collection of documents in relation to accounts.
13. Monitoring and recovery of loans and advances sanctioned by the bank; and
14. Any other activity as Bangladesh Bank may prescribe from time to time.
Agent should be exclusive
Agent should have fixed setup
Agent should not have any criminal record
Agent should not be loan defaulters
Agent should be financially capable
Agent must have a good reputation in the command area
A public-private partnership, or PPP, is a contract between a governmental body and a private entity, with the goal of providing some public benefit, either an asset or a service. Public-private partnerships typically are long-term and involve large corporations on the private side. Popular in many European countries, PPPs have gotten off to a relatively slow start in the United States, but they are increasingly used for large-scale infrastructure and public works projects. Most of the PPP projects in recent decades have been extremely successful. The high-occupancy toll lanes project in Virginia of the United States is a good example. Governments and private companies increasingly recognize the benefits of sharing resources for a common cause. As a result, PPPs are evolving in both developed and emerging markets.
Bangladesh Post Office (an attached department of the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication, Bangladesh) and Bank Asia Limited signed an MOU to expand the financial services to the citizens delivered by both of these organizations. The agreement has immense symbolic and functional value.
Evercare Hospital Chattogram organized a workshop recently with local media personnel on Thursday (27/05/2021) to discuss the successful neurosurgery for a brain tumor of a 42-year-old woman, Mrs. Nurunnahar. In the workshop, Dr. Md. Anisul Islam Khan and team, along with other involved personnel from Evercare Hospital Chattogram discussed the details of the surgery and other relevant experiences with media personnel.
The patient was suffering from headaches for the last 6 months which gradually kept increasing in severity. She had consulted several different physicians but to no avail. The situation kept getting worse as she slowly began to experience numbness and gradually lost voluntary control of her right arm and leg. A few weeks prior to the surgery, the patient could not even speak. Considering the dire situation, the patient’s family then reached out to Dr. Khan who successfully diagnosed a significantly large tumor in the left part of her brain.
After carefully assessing the situation, Dr. Khan decided to proceed to surgically remove the tumor. Since such surgeries are very complicated and require high levels of expertise and precision, this was an exceptional case of a successful operation, especially since the patient was at high risk.
Providing insight on the patient’s ailment, Dr. Md. Anisul Islam Khan, Senior Consultant & Coordinator of Neurosurgery Department at Evercare Hospital Chattogram, said, “There are generally some common symptoms like headaches, numbness, vomiting, convulsions and so on which indicate the possible presence of a brain tumor.” He added, “Since the patient had been suffering from the effects of the tumor and the accompanying complications for quite some time, it was the best-case scenario to conduct the high-risk surgery to remove it.”
Evercare Hospital Chattogram boasts a world class modular operation theater. It also provides facilities using advanced operating microscopes, endoscope, craniotome and drill machine as well as C-Arm machine. Besides the advanced operation theater, there is also an all-inclusive, skillfully staffed surgical ICU which is crucial for the post-operative period of neurosurgery.
Evercare Hospital Chattogram is the largest and first ever state of the art tertiary care multidisciplinary hospital in the port city. Since its inauguration, the hospital is redefining healthcare in Chattogram and achieved some remarkable milestones for the health industry in the city as well as the economy as a whole.
Nilesh Gupta, CEO of Evercare Hospital Chattogram; Dr. Prakash Kundu Narsimha, Director of Medical Services at Evercare Hospital Chattogram; Dr. Fazal-E-Akbar Chowdhury, General Manager of Medical Services at Evercare Hospital Chattogram and many others were present at the workshop session and experience exchange meeting organized today.
Md Jashim Uddin has been elected as the new president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) for the 2021-23 tenure.
As per the rules of the FBCCI, this year the president was supposed to come from the association group and senior vice-president from the chamber group.
Some 78 elected and nominated directors of the FBCCI elected Jashim Uddin for the top post, who was a representative from Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
The elected and nominated directors have elected the office bears, including president and vice-presidents of the apex trade body today and the takeover ceremony of the new board will take place on May 19, Jashim Uddin said.
“Addressing the challenges of the economic fallouts of the Covid-19 in our businesses would be my first priority,” he said.
In the FBCCI election, 46 directors are directly elected — 23 from the association group and 23 from the chamber group. Moreover, 17 directors are nominated from the chamber group and 17 from the association group.
This time, some 78 directors have been leading the FBCCI because Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies and Gopalganj Chamber of Commerce and Industry failed to send their nominated representatives. This year too, the FBCCI board of directors were elected and nominated in consensus as four directors have withdrawn their nominations at the last moment.
The absence of democratic election has been tarnishing the image of the country’s apex trade body FBCCI. As a result, the FBCCI has turned into an extension of the government and has been failing to play its due role.
Mostofa Azad Chowdhury Babu, a representative from the Rangpur Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has been elected as the senior vice-president. Six more vice-presidents (three from each group) have also been elected.
The vice-presidents are MA Momen from Bangladesh Kali Prostutkarok Malik Samity, Md Amin Helaly from Bangladesh Pathya Pustok Mudrak-O- Biponon Samity, Md Habib Ullah Dawn from Bangladesh Leather Goods Manufacturing Association, Md Aminul Hoque Shamim from Mymensingh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Salahuddin Alamgir from Pirojpur Chamber of Commerce and Industry and MA Razzak Khan from Meherpur Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Shariful Islam Tareq Sr. Manager, Marketing & Media Rupayan Group
Shariful Islam Tareq is a seasoned Marketing and Business Development personality with multi-disciplinary acumen. He worked in the Ride-hailing sector with remarkable achievement and now serving the Real Estate Industry. His journey demonstrates a good map that can be followed by new entrants in the corporate world. Let’s listen to his story today!
My career started by joining my father’s real estate business, Remax Liberty City Limited. My father, alongside a few of his colleagues, had been developing this housing estate in Savar. There I was the Marketing and Sales Manager for approximately 4 years. This helped me a lot to gain experience while working with the land and property-related projects, from sales to handover.
In 2018, there was a boom in the Ride Sharing industry and I decided to join here to be a part of innovation. I joined a newly emerged ride-sharing business named Piickme. After joining formally, we launched the company announcing its launch via a press conference. In the meantime, the app was being developed, which was launched in August 2018. I was assigned to look after the operations of the company, as it was a startup; everyone did whatever they could. I tried my best to play a significant role in making Piickme a highly promising company. I had a big hand in Piickme, from operations to development, and making connections to so many forward and backward linkages industries. Most importantly, I administered all the negotiations with the authorities of BRTA as a representative of Piickme. While being affiliated with Piickme, I had the opportunity to work with multiple platforms which helped me gain experiences in those fields.
Over time it made me realize that staying involved with this business for too long may not be the optimum career choice as the industry was struggling in many ways. Using this as an opportunity, I was advised by mentor Amit Chakraborty to return to real estate, and I came back by joining Rupayan Group On 13th January 2020. I saw there is huge scope of works in Rupayan to contribute to the Real Estate Sector. Currently, I am appointed as a Senior Manager of Marketing and Media in Rupayan Group. This a challenging career but enjoyable to me when I think that I am part of this industry which has an important role in national economy.
Since I am a marketing professional, I analyze the lacking in the sales area of the company and how to overcome them. My goal is to help the salespeople with their development; I work to enhance its brand value in many ways e.g. make documentaries of the major projects and provide those to the salespeople who show them to the clients, understanding my target groups, market demands, customer needs and so on. This allows the clients to virtually see the projects at their comfort. I also do live streams “The Rupayan Show” from the Rupayan Housing Estate Ltd Facebook page to create awareness and inform the customers. Current clients who have already made purchase also joins the live streams, and we talk to create awareness and provide information.
In short, my starting was in my father’s business as a manager then I joined Piickme as a manager, then was promoted to the Head of Business Development, and currently, I am with Rupayan as a Senior Manager of the Media and Marketing Sector. My goal is to bend with the development of the organization alongside my personal growth.
I was born in the Khulna Newsprint Mills Hospital complex, and as a child, I did not dream of becoming a doctor or engineer. My main target was to become an entrepreneur. My father, Md. Rofiqul Islam was the former president of Khulna Newsprint Mills employee’s union for a long time. He is respected and loved among the member of the Employees Union. He is a man of excellence and a true leader through and through. Growing up, I closely observed how he would handle these situations, every morning people would gather around our house and ask or seek help. His approach to all of these allowed me to learn from him; I learned how to be a leader from him. From there, my sole focus was to create a big network as much as possible.
To grow in life, building a good network of people is needed, and that is what I strive to achieve in my life journey. The more people know me, the better and the easier it becomes for me to reach my career goals. For this purpose, the moment I set foot in Dhaka, I got involved with a few volunteering organizations to build up a good network, and for a brief moment, I got involved with a media agency solely for this purpose. I needed a network in that sector so that when I am working there, I will have a few known faces who could support me, or even if I try to start a business, they can come in handy. The main focus of my life journey was to build myself up as a leader as my father did. No matter how many people are subordinates in the company I am in, I will monitor them perfectly and get the job done by all means. The main reason why I could contribute to Piickme was primarily that I had built a strong network since coming to Dhaka. My life journey consists of how I can further develop my career life to make it go smoothly.
Educational and Professional Development:
I completed my SSC from Khulna Newsprint Mills Secondary School and completed my HSC from Khulna Public College; later on, from Azam Khan Commerce College, Khulna, I finished my graduation in marketing and moved to Dhaka, I further completed my post-graduation from Gov. Titumir College in Dhaka.
Since childhood, I have been focused on this aspect of my life, from closely observing my father on how he does things to how I implement what I have learned from him. Starting at my father’s company to Piickme and now Rupayan group, the whole journey was about learning and implementing. All these organizations, these positions, the feats I have achieved were primarily teaching me, helping me build up my networks. All the places I have worked in or am currently affiliated with, I don’t see as my workplace. Rather to me, these are educational institutes.
Wherever I work, it teaches me a lot of things and helps me grow. I try to learn from every situation. Even from juniors and there is nothing to be ashamed about admitting this fact, there are plenty of things that a junior of mine not know, and there are things that he knows but don’t, in certain aspects I can learn from him and implement his ideas to organize something of mine on my own. Wherever I get stuck, I take advice and carry on instead of sitting and thinking. My main point is if I have to learn from someone, I will learn and implement rather than wait around.
Highlights of Achievements, Merits, and Other Honor:
In July of 2019, the government provided the ridesharing business license for the first time in Bangladesh. After following all the rules and regulations for all this time, we applied for the license, and Piickme was the first in the industry to ever achieve this license. This is the biggest achievement of my career life. I had a really big hand in this, and I prepared the whole team to achieve this award. This was covered all kinds of media. Helping Piickme to be the first company in Bangladesh to be the first one ever to achieve the license was my biggest achievement.
Besides this, I have quite a few articles written on the Ride Sharing business, which are highly informative. Then there are two awards which achieved back in college that I am fond of. One of them being for Recitation of Patriotism Poem, and the other was for reciting the Adhan.
As for honor, when I was still affiliated with Piickme, Daffodil International University invited me for a program named Ride Sharing Business; all the business students were invited to that seminar. There as one of the key spokespersons, I gave a brief on Ride-Sharing Business. I was asked some notable questions regarding the operations of the business, which I answered.
Hobby and Other Interests:
As for hobbies, I don’t have much to tell you about. Back in the day, I would do volunteer work as my hobby, but now being this busy, I don’t get the time. The only thing I like doing in my free time these days is to increase my network of people, reach out to people I already know, ask about their well-being; basically, I keep in touch with them. This is like a hobby to me, if by definition of hobbies is something you enjoy doing on your own and this is what I enjoy doing. Outside of this, I seldom listen to classical and folk music, plus music related to patriotism. And lastly, spending time with friends during off times is one favorite way to pass the time.
From the corporate perspective, I would like to say the Housing sector yields apx 8.5% of its contribution to the national GDP. Back in the day, agriculture had the most influence on the national economy. But as per forecasting, it is safe to say that alongside Agriculture, the RMG sector is also catching up and will go toe to toe with agriculture. About 1.5 to 2 crore people are directly or indirectly involved with this sector for their livelihood. And this is tied to the real-estate sector, with 200 to 300 other industries are tied with backward and forward linkage. With the housing industry, the rod, cement, all of these other industries are linked. Their livelihood depends on us; if we don’t make buildings, those industries will just stop.
Based on this, it is safe to say that the housing industry is in high demand right now. The main focus of my corporate perspective is that for building long-lasting housing, the government has to work side by side with the private sector to know the demand of the type of apartment and keep a record of who wants the apartments. And what is the current situation of the economic state of those people? Keeping the needs of the lower middle class in mind, the government and the private sector have to work together and work accordingly to solve their accommodation problem.
Own Life Philosophy:
Regarding my work life, I have kept it divided into short-term, mid-term, and long-term segments for my development. I have goals set that I would love to reach for each year. I have a plan for knowing what to do and when. And how rapidly I can reach those goals. Besides this, I am a strict believer in realism. I believe it better to set goals and work towards them rather than to dream foolishly. I have a set of goals that I am striving to achieve. Besides this, I tend to keep a to-do list of all the things I need to get done and of all my commitments, which for me is a sure successful way of maintaining a balance between work and personal life. This allows me to be aware of the commitment towards my family and also my work.
Personal and Social Responsibilities:
While being affiliated with Piickme, we did all sorts of volunteer work to create awareness and for topics regarding road safety. We did this in the major hubs of Dhaka city. One of the memorable events of that time was the Road Safety event where we worked at different points in Shyamoli, College Gate, Asad Gate, and lastly in Kakoli.
I also did some volunteer work with the Mohammad Sharif Foundation for some time. I worked as an advisor and showed them improvement points. In the first wave of the pandemic, we helped a hefty amount of people. I also contribute to a foundation named, Moyurponkhi Foundation that is dedicated to the welfare of street children. Alongside these, I try to contribute and help however I can to some more small-scale foundations of a similar category. Therefore 4 days straight, a team of 20 people worked to create Road Safety awareness by spending 3 to 4 hours there working.
I have to say one thing Affordable Living. Sure there is demand for luxurious apartments, we make quite a lot of those. But we have to keep in mind that there are still a lot of people who want an apartment within their affordability. This is causing a lot of problems in the housing sector. To solve all of these problems, we need to focus on affordable housing. The housing industry has to shift its focus to the lower middle class. For the real estate to solve these accommodation problems of the lower middle class, they need to move forward with affordable housing of the housing industry rather than luxurious apartments.
Anyone who’s a fresh graduate or just completed HSC should determine which sector they should work in, they should start deciding and set goals from the get-go. They should whatever it takes for them to grow their career. They should try to get some sort of training in the chosen fields. They should also prioritize market research. This applies to all departments. Alongside that, a proper idea of what the market price should be and currently is. They should be informed about the geographical aspects of the business. A business should not only know the price of a product but also the origin of it and some more details. Alongside this, a piece of very personal advice to those who are starting would be not to dream rather set goals and work accordingly to reach those set up goals.
After ATM technology, there was no new innovation in the financial technology sector for a long time. Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, said he was “deeply saddened” by the 2008 financial crisis. Since then, there has been a visible improvement in the IT department of the bank in the last decade and a half.
Entrepreneurs have decentralized the financial sector, the most vivid example of which is Bitcoin. Although Bitcoin is virtual, it has many connections with the traditional financial sector.
Not just Bitcoin, the last decade has seen the emergence of different types of payment platforms. There are also big players in the financial market now. The number of subscribers of this e-wallet and payment app has now crossed 300 crores.
The next addition to the financial technology sector is going to be the digital currency introduced by the central banks. But this will not come so easily. The idea is that the power of the state will increase, not decrease. Even in the private sector, there will be no monopoly. The idea behind it is quite simple.
In the age of digital currency, the customer does not have to open an account with a commercial bank, but instead people will transact directly with the central bank. Apps like Ali Pay or Venmo will be in the middle. Instead of writing checks or making payments online using a credit card, transactions will be made directly in the digital currency provided by the central bank.
The central bank will provide security of money, not a commercial bank. The thing is, you don’t have to pay the bill at a restaurant or go to an online command or SMS agent to help a broken-hearted relative, it can be sent through the central bank.
The central bank will come down slowly in this way, the process has already begun. The world’s 50 monetary policy makers are now considering the introduction of digital currency.
The Bahamas has already released digital currency. China’s central bank has begun piloting e-yuan, leaving the currency among 500,000 people. The European Union wants to introduce a virtual euro by 2025. Britain has formed a task force. And the head of the world’s financial system has left hypothetical e-dollars.
Fear of losing control of the government and the central bank is also at work behind the idea of government digital currency. It can now be seen that the central bank uses the banking system to increase the impact of monetary policy. It will be difficult for the central bank to maintain the economic cycle as it moves from the payment, deposit and loan banking system to the private digital world.
The way they deal with the crisis by inserting money into the banking system will be more difficult to do. Besides, the fear that the unregulated digital world could become a haven for fraud is not unfounded.
However, the welfare of digital currency can lead to the development of the financial sector. Ideally, money is a very reliable means of saving value, as it is a convenient means of accounting as well as a convenient means of payment.
People’s reactions to money are mixed. The thing is, if there is no insurance for the money deposited in the bank, people’s money will be lost if the bank falls. Bitcoin is not accepted everywhere. And credit cards are like petting elephants.
All in all, government digital currency might be able to reduce global financial operating expenses. The Economist reports that the cost is 350 dollars per capita per year for all people in the world. As many as 1.7 billion people around the world do not have bank accounts, and with this money, they can be brought into the financial sector.
In addition, if there is a digital currency, the government can send money to the people immediately and bring down the interest rate to zero. And the appeal of digital currency to people is eternal, instant, secure and universal.
This is exactly why digital currencies can be dangerous. This uncontrolled currency will soon become a major source of funding. If it becomes difficult for people to get out of this network because of the network, the situation will deteriorate further. This can destabilize the banking system.
From the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, it was feared that remittances would fall. But overcoming all doubts, by 2020, Bangladesh has received 22 billion dollars remittance or expatriate income. This has taken Bangladesh a step forward in receiving expatriate income among low middle income countries. In 2019, Bangladesh was in eighth place, in 2020 it rose to seventh place.
This is stated in the latest report of the Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD). According to the report, the income of expatriates from different countries of the world has decreased in Corona but it has increased in several countries of South Asia including Bangladesh.
This report was published recently. The Global Knowledge Partnership and Development is a multilateral trust fund established by the World Bank. It deals mainly with issues related to migration and development.
According to the report, in 2020, India was at the top among low and middle income countries in terms of expatriate income. Last year, the country’s expatriate income was more than 83 billion dollars. In second place was China. They received about 60 billion. Third on the list is Mexico (43 billion), fourth is the Philippines (35 billion), fifth is Egypt (30 billion) and sixth is Pakistan (26 billion).
Then there is Bangladesh. In the corona-affected year, the country received about 22 billion in remittances to Bangladesh last year, in terms of gross domestic product or GDP, which is 6.6 percent. In the previous year, in 2019, the expatriate income in Bangladesh was 16.36 billion dollars.
Experts however say that even if the expatriate income increases, it does not have a significant impact on the family level. The closure of unofficial channels due to covid, the incentive to send legally, all these factors have led to an increase in expatriate income.
But this is not the case. The thing is, out of 100 taka, 60 taka would have come legally, the remaining 40 taka would have come in the illegal way. Now it is coming in a completely legal way. As a result, the income of expatriates at the individual level has not increased in that sense.
According to a report by The Global Knowledge Partnership and Development, the outflow of Covid-19 has reduced the world’s expatriate income by 1.5 percent in 2020 compared to the previous year.
However, even in this situation, good expatriate income has come to different countries including Bangladesh. The situation is very good, especially in the South Asia region. In 2020, expatriate income in South Asia grew by 5.2 percent to 147 billion dollars.
Compared to 2019, the growth of expatriate income in Bangladesh has been 18.4 percent.
The report further said that many workers in the Middle East have sent back their savings to the country as there was no Hajj in 2020. This is a big reason behind the increase in expatriate income in Bangladesh and Pakistan. In addition, many expatriate workers have sent extra money due to the floods last year.