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'Udayan', a trailblazing venture to promote start-up businesses

Mercantile Bank helps young entrepreneurs end their epic struggles

Saif Uddin | January 28, 2019 00:00:00

A newly-launched credit scheme of Mercantile Bank Limited (MBL) has been making significant contribution to help young entrepreneurs strengthen their footholds in their respective fields.

A good number of entrepreneurs so far, have availed the credit facility introduced by MBL 14 months back .

According to the MBL source, the Udayan scheme is for fresh graduates having innovative, creative and unique business ideas.

Under the scheme, young entrepreneurs can borrow Tk 0.5 million to Tk 5.0 million as seed capital for starting businesses with 10 per cent interest.

One of such businesspersons, Kanij Fatima has been leading an online-based tour operating agency 'TripZip', since 2016 as the founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

Contacted, Ms Fatima said:"There are many appreciations for the unique business concepts, but none takes risk to provide financial support in reality".

She added: "In such circumstances, MBL has come forward as a savior for some entrepreneurs like me."

The Bank itself found her out to provide the credit facility, said the CEO of Tripzip, a one-stop platform to provide all related services to the tourists especially women.

"Bank officials including some from the top management attempted to understand the challenges and prospects for an entrepreneur like me before finalising the agreement," she said not disclosing the amount of credit.

TripZip has created 14 direct employments so far.

Ms Fatima also talked about the epic struggles she faced before receiving the fund.

Responding to a query, she said, being a woman is probably the toughest challenges among various other difficulties in the country.

"On one hand, the society is still not prepared to see women as entrepreneurs, on the other hand, most of us (women) cannot dream for unorthodox profession," she said.

The MBL's faith in a woman-led project might be an encouraging example of breaking glass ceiling for other financial institutions, she added.

Like her, another budding entrepreneur Mahmudul Hasan Likhon is running a unique start-up called 'Hellotask', an on-demand instant househelp hiring service.

Any household can take the service on month, week or on hourly basis depending on need, he explained the business model, adding that the start-up was earlier called Robot Dako.

"We started in September 2017 as Robot Dako, but we rebranded ourselves in tune with the changes brought in our strategy" he said.

Started with only two maids in February 2018, the service has now become a network of over 150 verified house-helps to be available in many parts of the Capital city, he said.

"At one point, we had five times higher demand than our capacity to provide housemaid," he said.

There are 15 official staffs working with the Hellotask at present, he added.

The unique business entity has also launched a training institute recently to develop maids' skill for managing clients' household chores.

A search-team of MBL identified the start-up as a promising one before provided it with the credit facility since February 2018, he added.

"Udayan provided us with a six-month grace period, which is one of the most attractive features for any start-up," he said.

Besides, the Bank management has been very cordial to the start-up owners beyond lender-borrower relation, he added.

Udayan is a good source of credit facility for young businesspersons since the extent of venture capital in the country is still limited, he said.

Udayan is the trailblazing business concept of the MBL Managing Director (MD) and CEO Kazi Masihur Rahman

Talking to the FE at his office recently, the veteran career banker said the country's economic development largely depends on the next generation young entrepreneurs, who will create employment rather than being a typical employee.

"Many of the young entrepreneurs have the capacity to bring in radical changes to the conventional way of people's living, but their ideas cannot strengthen foothold mainly due to financial crunch," he said.

"From such perspective we have been extending our support to the rising businessmen," said Mr Rahman, who has been playing a crucial role through serving in several leading private commercial banks in the last four decades.

Though Udayan appears as a commercial scheme, it is made available for selected prospective projects only, he added.

"None of the entrepreneurs, who availed the credit facility, did come to us themselves, the experienced banker said, adding: "But a team of MBL staff selected them based on some criteria including educational status, uniqueness, pro-people business concept and clear concept of their goals."

The monetary return from the product is very negligible, if it is compared with the Bank's total revenue in a year, he said.

MBL is planning to launch its venture capital wing aiming to facilitate the start ups bloom, added the seasoned banker.

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