Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC), an autonomous corporation under the ministry of industries, provides support services to small, medium and cottage industries (SMCI) through its countrywide institution network. BSCIC was established in 1957 through an act of parliament which was later amended. It was established with the motive to develop SMCI sector in Bangladesh through door step services to the entrepreneurs.
BSCIC has 64 District offices (Industrial Service Centre), 74 Industrial Estates and 15 Skill Development Centres at different places of the country.
Moreover, it has some project offices at Upazila level too. Through this strong institutional network, BSCIC is working to create an entrepreneur-friendly eco-system in Bangladesh from where entrepreneurs can get all necessary services and information to start and develop their businesses.
BSCIC provides to the small, medium and cottage industries (SMCI) the following services: pre-investment counselling, post-investment extension services, technical information, design and prototype of handicrafts, industrial profiles and fact sheets, marketing information, infrastructural facilities, skill development training, entrepreneurship development training, in-plant advisory services, direct or indirect credit facilities and such other relevant services required by the SMCIs. Under the supervision of ministry of industry, BSCIC is working on the overall development of the SMCI sector of the country. With changing times, BSCIC is also bringing changes in its activities as SMCI are demanding more effective and efficient services.
From the discussion above, it can be easily deduced that BSCIC is a de facto business incubator in Bangladesh which is missing the label! A business incubator is a workplace from where all necessary services provided to the new enterprises or start-ups to survive while facing difficulties or challenges especially in their early stages. It also helps the start-ups to grow and make prosperity through providing many supporting services like office-space, funding, expert mentoring, business networking, business promotions, innovation in businesses and up-gradation etc.
A business incubator encourages the young entrepreneurs to face hurdles with more confidence which later ensure to make entrepreneurial excellence possible. It is usually seen that many entrepreneurs wind off their initiatives in the very early stages because they do not have much knowledge on how to survive during hard times of their entrepreneurial journey. When the young entrepreneurs start facing continuous losses and many of their decisions go wrong, they become very anxious and decide to wind off their initiatives. As a result, they fail to become entrepreneurs even though in some cases, they have very valuable and quality ideas. Business incubators provide all required services to the entrepreneurs so that they can survive in these inflexible situations.
If one would critically observe the objectives and the activities of BSCIC and a business incubator, he/she will find numerous similarities. Both the entities are working on improving the entrepreneurial eco-system through providing many supporting services to the entrepreneurs. Though BSCIC provides many common services like a business incubator, it is not recognised as a business incubator in Bangladesh. For this reason, BSCIC may be considered as an informal business incubator in Bangladesh.
In recent days, establishing business incubators is a widely discussed topic in our country. Many government institutions and private organisations are working on establishing various types of business incubators in Bangladesh as everyone realised that business incubators can play a significant role to develop entrepreneur-friendly eco-system in the country. Entrepreneurial eco-system will boost the economy of the country in tandem with creation of more employment opportunities. It is true that all the characteristics of a business incubator are not present in the institutions of BSCIC. It is also true that if BSCIC authorities would like to turn the BSCIC institutions into formal business incubators, without difficulty they can make it possible with the help of the government by including few services of a business incubator which are not included in BSCIC’s present array of services.
Thus, BSCIC can start working to promote entrepreneurship all over the country by providing all necessary incubation services to the SMCIs which can ensure the success of the SMCIs as well as contribute enormously to the overall economy of the country. It may be true that it is very important to establish specialised and IT based business incubators in Bangladesh, but it is also true that BSCIC can provide general incubation services to the maximum SMCIs scattered all over the country.
In the end, it goes without saying that BSCIC is genuinely working as a business incubator in Bangladesh through its institutional network and providing various supporting services to the SMCI. Now, it is also prescient to announce BSCIC as a formal business incubator and promote it throughout the country so that it can contribute to the success of all SMCI even if located at the remote recesses of the country. This will only be possible by bringing changes in the nomenclature, and activities of BSCIC. The bona fide intention of the Government of Bangladesh to this end will go a long way in strengthening this 60 year old valuable institution of Bangladesh.
The writer is Programme Officer, Centre for Entrepreneurship Development (CED), BRAC University