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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

In Bangladesh, nothing is what it seems >> CASE # 1 >>

Nokia > Nokla > Noka > Nikia > Nsikia> ( ? )

Nokia is undoubtedly the most powerful mobile phone brand in the world. It’s mammoth presence in the hands of the mass made it the #1 selling brand all over Bangladesh as well. From a local fisherman to a CEO of a MNC, who doesn’t have one? With its sophisticated tools, great look and easy-to-use features it made itself the buddy of most of the mobile phone users. And all of these made some of our businessmen mad! They want to tap into the cloning business in order to make some quick cash providing buyers with poor, clone handsets which are in fact less expensive, but not stable.
Yesterday one of my aunts came to our home to show us her recently bought Nokla mobile set blended with 5 speakers, 2MP camera and some other cool features. She was very proud of her set which could produce more sound than my SonyEricsson K750i. She was also pleased with the price she bought her mobile phone with.
No doubt, within a few weeks she will call me and say, can you help me with my mobile phone? 3 of its speakers are not producing any sound, and the camera button is not working as required. Please take it to a technician who can restore it.
These mobile sets are grasping more and more share of the mobile phone market. This seems to happen to the people less educated and who are ignorant about the originality of a mobile phone set. Eastern Plaza, Motalib Plaza, Bashundhara City Shopping Complex, Stadium, … you name it, all of these markets are loaded with these poor and less expensive mobile phone sets. I have heard that these sets come from China. There are places in China where you can make a Nokia N95 clone by spending less than BD Taka 10,000! OMG! Can you imagine?
It has been like a deadly virus which is infecting most of the people without having an antidote to it. Whoever buys one ends in losing those money invested behind it. The authorities who legally market original Nokia phone sets in Bangladesh are always shouting “Buy Only – MADE BY NOKIA”. But who gives a damn?
One last word, it’s not only happening to Nokia alone. There are also SunyEricsson, SonyEricssun sets available in the market. So when you go to market in order to buy one, make sure you double check the originality of the phone set. Otherwise … you know, don’t you?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Please help us rebuild our towers

Please write ‘help’ and send to 1234 and 10 tk. from your account will be sent to the aid of the victims of cyclone Sidr. Please try to understand that we, as telecom operators, are trying to make your contributions easier so your aid reaches the destitute in the coastal belt of Bangladesh who are left reeling after the Sidr chaos. Please also try to understand that many of our base tower stations have been destroyed by the cyclone and we have lost enormous revenue due to lack of electricity and communication infrastructure that followed the cyclone’s destruction. Just imagine the amount of revenue we could have generated from airtime and SMS from those two days. Even now, we have to run many of those stations with alternate power backups, which is costing us money too. And remember we just paid a hefty fine to the Government for our ‘illegal’ flirting with VoIP babes. So although we know that we have deep pockets, as of now, we do feel a small dent in there. So we need your help, please give us your money, we want to tickle your sensitivity, your emotional call to stand by your distressed countrymen and exploit it to compensate for the huge loss we have incurred due to this stupid disaster. Nevertheless we are adept businessmen, we have the insight to spot light of opportunity even in the darkest of shipwrecks. So here we are, come as it may be Sidr or Odor or whatever you name the storm, we will always know how to milk out the money out of your pocket and repair our own hands. Now stop reading this stupid and baseless post and go to the ‘message’ option in your handset, please type ‘help’….(you know the rest).

When the powerful earthquake struck Kashmir in 2005, it created quite a stir and array of relief arranging activities around the world. A few Pakistanis who used to own the off-licence shop on top of which I used to reside in London was among those ‘relief collectors’, who identified the call of the hour and decided to contribute to the rebuilding of their nation through that fund raising. They set up a donation box wrapped around with newspapers clippings in English and Urdu depicting horror tales of the earthquake victims in the Pakistan Occupied Kashmiri territories. Whoever came to the off-licence shop to buy bread, butter or booze, could not miss the box that cried for help. People donated whole-heartedly, sometimes they didn’t take the change in return, they put it inside the box instead. Sometimes they shared their grief and sympathy with the shop-keepers while putting out a ‘fiver’ or a ‘tenner’, a few ‘quids’ for the sake of charity and humanity. I also took my turn and donated in good faith a very insignificant amount only to realize after a week that I only bought a few bottles of beers for those soldiers of humanity and good cause. They stopped collecting the fund when they thought they have had enough, invited their friends from Wembley and Bradford, arranged a good party, cooked Mughlai food, listened to Hindi music, drank like dogs, made me sacrifice my night’s sleep and they went to sleep happy around dawn. Since then, I have a profound sense of suspicion when saviors of mankind pop up overnight to raise funds and help the ‘devastated people’ who get struck after natural calamities like floods, cyclone, earthquakes etc.

Appeal for help through designated bank accounts seem more realistic and trust-worthy, rather than sending SMSs to thin air naively believing that my aid is going to reach to the victims struck so hard by the disaster. I am very cautious so that companies don’t make use of the vulnerability of the situation on ground and make merry on my money. SOS.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Effective multi-tasking

Adrian O’Connor

In the workplace, multi-tasking has become a mandatory skill. So how can you multi-task effectively? The first step is recognising that the entire process is, essentially, a form of time management. Here’s some additional advice:

Create a schedule of priorities
Multi-tasking madness often results from not being able to decide which task to do first – you switch from one assignment to another as you constantly re-prioritise. In the end, many projects and activities do not receive the necessary attention. Get off this mental merry-go-round by using a calendar to organise your immediate work-related priorities. Consult this schedule throughout the day to ensure your focus remains on the most pressing projects.

Don’t let time be your enemy
Consider this scenario: You are compiling figures for an important report when the phone rings. A colleague needs help with his research and asks if you can swing by. Though you have only a few minutes to spare, you don’t return to your desk until an hour later. Multi-tasking also often causes workers to focus on the most recent project – and for more time than originally intended. To avoid this, try setting a timer to alert you when it is time to switch gears and move on to the next project. Be disciplined; unless a critical request arises, don’t change your focus until it’s time to do so.

Keep your desk clean
Don’t let clutter distract you from making smooth transitions from one assignment to the next. Immediately file away the work related to the previous task so that it is out of sight – and out of mind. Use a file cabinet or organiser to hold all your paperwork and take out what you need only when you are working on it. If something new comes along, don’t look at it until you are ready to make a place for it in your schedule of priorities.

Don’t be afraid to unplug
While technology can increase your productivity, it also can be the source of tremendous distraction. Be brave and turn off your electronic devices when necessary. Also consider putting a 'Do Not Disturb' sign on your door or outside your cubicle to make sure people understand that you intend to focus on something important for a certain amount of time and do not wish to be interrupted.

There are times when multi-tasking does help you achieve more. However, it is important to think before automatically assuming you’ll be more productive by doing everything at once. Some projects require all of your attention, and figuring out which ones do will save you time and may even help you get more done.

Adrian O’Connor is regional manager of Robert Half Finance & Accounting. Robert Half Finance & Accounting is the world’s first and largest recruitment consultancy, specialising in the placement of accounting and finance professionals on a temporary and permanent basis. Visit us at

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

3 minute MBA course

So many training firms, consultancies, brand management firms are arranging workshops, management training, etc. on various topics. We thought to chip in with some of our version of knowledge and expertise too.
Lesson 1:
A man is getting into the shower just as his wife is finishing up her shower, when the doorbell rings. The wife quickly wraps herself in a towel and runs downstairs.
When she opens the door, there stands Bob, the next-door neighbor. Before she says a word, Bob says, "I'll give you $800 to drop that towel." After thinking for a moment, the woman drops her towel and stands naked in front of Bob.
After a few seconds, Bob hands her $800 and leaves.
The woman wraps back up in the towel and goes back upstairs. When she gets to the bathroom, her husband asks, "Who was that?"
"It was Bob, the next door neighbor," she replies.
"Great!" the husband says, "Did he say anything about the $800 he owes me?"
Moral of the story: If you share critical information pertaining to credit and risk with your shareholders in time, you may be in a position to prevent avoidable exposure.

Lesson 2:
A sales rep, an administration clerk, and the manager are walking to lunch when they find an antique oil lamp. They rub it and a Genie comes out. The Genie says, "I'll give each of you just one wish."
"Me first! Me first!" says the admin clerk. "I want to be in the Bahamas, driving a speedboat, without a care in the world."
Puff! She's gone.
"Me next! Me next!" says the sales rep. "I want to be in Hawaii, relaxing on the beach with my personal masseuse, an endless supply of Pina Coladas and the love of my life."
Puff! He's gone.
"OK, you're up," the Genie says to the manager. The manager says, "I want those two back in the office after lunch."
Moral of the story: Always let your boss have the first say.

Lesson 3
An eagle was sitting on a tree resting, doing nothing. A small rabbit saw the eagle and asked him, "Can I also sit like you and do nothing?"
The eagle answered: "Sure, why not."
So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the eagle and rested. All of a sudden, a fox appeared, jumped on the rabbit and ate it.
Moral of the story: To be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very, very high up.

Lesson 4
A turkey was chatting with a bull. "I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree," sighed the turkey, "but I haven't got the energy."
"Well, why don't you nibble on some of my droppings?" replied the bull. They're packed with nutrients."
The turkey pecked at a lump of dung, and found it actually gave him enough strength to reach the lowest branch of the tree. The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch. Finally after a fourth night, the turkey was proudly perched at the top of the tree.
He was promptly spotted by a farmer, who shot him out of the tree.
Moral of the story: Bull Shit might get you to the top, but it won't keep you there.

Lesson 5
A little bird was flying south for the winter. It was so cold the bird froze and fell to the ground into a large field. While he was lying there, a cow came by and dropped some dung on him.
As the frozen bird lay there in the pile of cow dung, he began to realize how warm he was. The dung was actually thawing him out! He lay there all warm and happy, and soon began to sing for joy.
A passing cat heard the bird singing and came to investigate. Following the sound, the cat discovered the bird under the pile of cow dung, and promptly dug him out and ate him.
Moral of the story:
(1) Not everyone who shits on you is your enemy(2) Not everyone who gets you out of shit is your friend (3) And when you're in deep shit, it's best to keep your mouth shut!
This ends the 3-minute management course.
(source : internet)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Belonging to a brand...everyone is invited

2 years ago when I took my car to the Mohakhali workshop for maintenance, I had the privilege to meet ‘someone’ who worked for Toyota. As I was waiting in the congested, dirty workshop to witness my car being dismantled, I was approached by one of the mechanics that my car will be ‘operated upon’ by their expert specialist, who worked in Toyota, Japan. The teenager announced this with a sense of pride in his eyes, shining bright through his greased, dusty, sweaty face. I nodded with a smile and curiosity. Moments later, there appeared a ‘guru mechanic’ wearing Bermuda shirts and wrench in his hand. No introduction needed, as he himself introduced his ex-employer first, Toyota that is, and started describing with confidence, how he plans to work on my car. I kept wondering how a mere sense of belonging to a big brand name can do wonders to its smallest, least insignificant of employees. With due respects to all forms of labor, who knew whether the lead mechanic worked as…a mechanic or as an executive or as the head of new product design in the Japanese car kingdom…really didn’t matter..atleast to him.

Similarly I keep on hearing every now and then from people staying abroad that so and so is working in Microsoft, or so and so has recently joined HP or NASA etc. We hear all this and are left with the impression that how insignificant our profession in Bangladesh is, people are working with big names, may be getting a hefty pay pack in the end of the month and look at us…chasing and swearing at the stubborn CNG-walas on our way to and from office in the choked streets of Dhaka city. But who knows…the grass may not be greener on the other side, but who bothers to cross check.

Last week, my office work took me to the realm of rural Bangladesh where the presence of ‘urban’ people is itself a reason for crowding, if its backed by Land Rovers too, then you are surely a reason to be stared at and enquired about. During the event proceedings, some of the curios onlookers become innocently courageous enough to approach you and ask, “afni ki ga-ra-min fone e kam koren??” (do you work in Grameen Phone?). My negative head nod is never enough to stop them from speculating that “apnera nishchoi onek taka pan…40-50 hajar…” (you must be earning a lot isn’t it? 40-50 thousand?). I keep wondering yet again that the ‘blue propeller’ has successfully penetrated into the remotest corners of Bangladesh so well, coupled with the happy piracy of its logos in t-shirts, caps etc. that it has become a household name and anybody working in, working with, working for, used to work in…Grameen Phone, could be a temporary celebrity in rural areas of Bangladesh.

Even in urban areas, I have noticed my friends working in GP getting (un)solicited phone calls during private hours i.e. while attending a Gaaye Holud program, dinner etc. Relatives, friends, friends’ neighbors, their friends, etc. keep on calling from time to time when they experience network problems, when their cellphone does not switch on, when they have a candidate who is looking for a job etc.—being absolutely unaware and relaxed about the fact that the person they are calling might be working in an entirely different department with little or no link, acquaintance in the department in concern. Such is the power of the GP brand it seems. Doesn’t matter if you are one of the directors, or AGM, DGM of any department or if you work as one of the lift operators in GP, as long as you can claim that the ‘blue propeller’ fans you, you will have a certain fan following around you (atleast in rural Bangladesh).

Lastly I remember when I used to work in a call center in India, we used to have a ‘transport manager’ called Christie. He used to arrange incoming and outgoing vehicles for the call center staff. One day I asked him where he lived in Delhi. He replied with conviction, “British High Commission, Chanakya Puri!”, I thought the British High Commissioner to India was speaking direct to me face to face. Later on I found out that he worked as a driver…say chauffeur…for the British High Commission. I was amused and surpirsed to see the exuberance he beamed, thanks to the Queen’s Union Jack brand, many Christies are around us, amidst us, basking in the glory of a strong brand and enjoying the limelight and attention.

বাংলাদেশ করপোরেট ব্লগস্ - এ লিখুন মাতৃভাষায়।

ইন্টারনেটে বাংলার ব্যবহার ক্রমেই বেড়ে চলছে। এর ধারাবাহিকতায় আপনারা ইচ্ছা করলেই বাংলাদেশ করপোরেট ব্লগস্ - এ মাতৃভাষায় আপনার মতামত প্রকাশ করতে পারবেন। তবে এর জন্য আপনার কম্পিউটারে কিছু টুলস্ যোগ করে নিতে হবে। আর একবার এইসব টুলস্ ইন্সটল করে নিলে আপনি শুধু বাংলাদেশ করপোরেট ব্লগস্ - নয়, আরো হাজারো সাইটে বাংলা লিখতে পারবেন, আর দেখতে তো পারবেনই।
এজন্য ভিজিট করুন আর ডাউনলোড করে নিন অভ্র-কিবোর্ড। এতে আপনি কয়েকভাবে বাংলা লিখতে পারবেন, যেমন - বিজয়, অভ্র, বর্ণনা, ন্যাশনাল ইত্যাদি।
এসাইটে প্রয়োজনীয় বাংলা ফন্ট পাবেন যা আপনার পিসিতে ইন্সটল করলে যেকোন বাংলা সাইট দেখতে পাবেন।
শুধু তাই নয়। এখানে আছে অভ্র কনভার্টার যা দিয়ে বাংলা ইউনিকোডে পরিনত করতে পারবেন আপনার বিজয়, আল্পনা, প্রশিকা শব্দ, প্রবর্তন দিয়ে তৈরি করা ডকুমেন্ট সমূহ।
অশেষ ধন্যবাদ অমিকর্ন-ল্যাবকে মাতৃভাষা বিকাশে তাদের অসামান্য অবদানের জন্য।

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Old battle, new players

So, the mobile phone companies are getting themselves enlisted in the Stock Market. Let’s see how well they do? If everything is set then we can expect GP & AKTEL offering their first IPO by June 2008. I wonder how the investors will react to their IPO. Will we notice some dramatic movements as we have experienced during the IPO offering by BRAC BANK LTD? Or will it just be like an ordinary company offering? Let’s wait and see.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Birds do it, bees do it

While going through my news feeds this week and surfing around the web, I noticed a curious theme that kept repeating.

First, several articles on The World Toilet Summit 2007 that was recently held in New Delhi. Did you know that according to the WHO, 2.6 billion people on this planet, or 40% of the world, has no access to hygienic toilets? Or that diarrhea kills 1.6 million children a year, more than that killed by malaria, and that the principle cause of which is water polluted by human waste? An interesting excerpt from one of the articles:

“Experts all agree that the two most important public health measures in the world, measures that saved more lives than either vaccines or antibiotics, were in place by the time of the Roman Empire: running water and toilets that carry feces safely away. But, because of the expense of pipes and plumbing, they have remained for over 2,000 years the province of the relatively rich of the world, even though measures that save far fewer lives — from cinchona bark for malaria to antiretrovirals for AIDS — have been hailed as godsends […] …lack of adequate toilets threatens more children than, for example, global warming does.” [Emphases mine]

And then, this article from last year that quotes another UN study that surveyed nearly 4,500 schools in Bangladesh and found that as a nation we average one latrine for every 152 pupils. In one case, the survey found 500 students sharing just one latrine. Compare this to a world average of only 20-30 students per latrine. This causes obvious health risks, as well as irregular school attendance, especially for girl pupils.

Of course most Bangladeshis, especially those living in urban centers, are well aware of the lack of proper facilities available to the general pubic (not to mention the “sidewalk surprises” that can often punctuate our day). I started to wonder if there was a business opportunity here to start a self-sustaining social enterprise. And lo and behold, the Internet did not disappoint yet again.

I found this interesting concept on the Adeamus site from a social planner in Calcutta who envisions a “Toilet Bus” for women slum dwellers. The idea is to convert a double-decker bus into a mobile toilet service that would be parked near slums at certain times of the day. The waste would be safely stored in a storage tank on the vehicle and then disposed in a dedicated landfill site using a “twin sanitary pit” system. Once a pit is filled with waste, it is closed and a new one started. When the second pit fills up, the first one would be reopened and the refuse in it (which by then is inert) removed and used as (presumably organic?) manure which can be sold to generate revenue. This approach would potentially kill many birds with one stone: provide relief to poor slum dweller women, raise public awareness on sanitation, perhaps contribute to our fertilizer crisis, and create income generating opportunities for the poor. This is one business that will never run out of input (by which I mean, of course, “output”).


Sunday, November 11, 2007

On Corporate Blogging Content & Sample Reading List

I just wanted to follow-up on my fellow blogger Red & Green’s post about ushering corporate blogging or business-oriented blogging in Bangladesh.

One of the more frequent comments I hear and read about specialized subject matter blogging is the notion that somehow you’re giving away "wisdom" for free by publishing it on a public blog. I think that’s a short-sighted view and is trumped by the thousands of very high quality blogs on the Web where various subject matter experts maintain a free flow of commentary and analysis on their blogs. I am more of the view that there aren’t any new ideas, just new ways of understanding and applying ideas. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain from sharing ideas and collaborating online (one only needs to look at the open source software movement). Of course, if you find the formula for cold fusion or how to solve Dhaka traffic, by all means patent it and run laughing to the bank, you have my best wishes.

I just wanted to share a very short list of just some of the more specialized blogs that I track frequently in my newsreader and find quite a lot of valuable ideas for “free”. As follows in no particular order:

Seth Godin’s Blog – an excellent marketing blog from a subject expert, author, and entrepreneur; considered to be the world’s most popular marketing blog

Springwise – an excellent blog exposing and sharing new innovative business ideas

Freakonomics – authors of the best-selling book explore “the hidden side of everything” as a very interesting and thought-provoking ongoing coda to their book

Marginal Revolution – a blog on economics and economic theories in practice

The Consumerist – a blog focused on consumer advocacy and giving consumers a voice

Commodity Trader – perhaps not interesting to a wider audience, but a very interesting look at commodity trading and futures markets

Wal-Mart Watch - a watchdog blog that monitors the actions of Wal-Mart

TechCrunch – a blog that profiles and reviews new Internet companies and products

Micro Persuasion – a blog on how technology is revolutionizing media and marketing

Duct Tape Marketing – a marketing and branding blog

The Entrepreneurial Mind – blog on entrepreneurship maintained by the head of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Belmont University

Small Business Trends – blog on the small business market

Church of the Customer – compelling blog on customer loyalty and creating “customer evangelists”

Brand Autopsy – blog on branding, marketing, and customer service

The Undercover EconomistTim Harford’s blog on finding economics in everyday life (see also his excellent “Dear Economist” column in the FT where he answers reader’s personal questions using the latest economic theories in a humorous way.)

The World Bank’s Private Sector Development blog – news, resources, and ideas on how private enterprise can contribute to fighting poverty, maintained by the World Bank’s knowledge service

Innoblog – a good business-oriented blog, with focus on innovation and technology

The Long Tail– a blog around the book (and article) of the same name; written by the book author who is also editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine. Expounds on the concept of “the long tail” which is explained much better on the site, but basically proposes that the culture and the economy are evolving towards more and more narrowly-targeted goods and services aimed at an expanding array of niche markets.

Or you could see this list compiled by one blogger on the Top 100 business blogs. And here’s an article from BusinessWeek providing Six Tips for Corporate Bloggers, and another one on how blogs will change your business.

While everyone is jumping on the corporate blogging bandwagon in other parts of the world, I think it doesn’t always make sense (blogs maintained by CEOs, for example, are often tedious and boring). You can’t have a blog just for the sake of having one, or because everyone else has one (blogs aren’t lawyers or nuclear bombs, after all). Often these corporate blogs fizzle out after a few short months or weeks (for example, marketing blogs that are created around the launch of a specific consumer product). Keeping content fresh and compelling is always a challenge.

Technology companies generally do a good job of creating blogs that are if not useful (e.g., tech support, customer feedback), but also interesting and keep customers updated on the latest developments and give a window into interesting companies or project teams. Some good examples are The Official Google Blog, Inside Firefox (for the Firefox browser) and Opera Watch (for the Opera browser).

Where it makes perhaps more “natural” sense is in the media industry, particularly with more traditional media like newspapers and magazines. For example, The New York Times has a bunch of very interesting and thought provoking blogs, my favorites being Freakonomics, Think Again, Diner’s Journal, and The Lede. In fact, most major newspapers with an online presence now have their writers maintaining a blog. It’s a natural fit, and I would venture that most of the writers enjoy writing from a more personal and editorial point of view. It probably also helps the newspapers keep fresh content circulating on their sites, initiate dialogue with their readers, and helps encourage viral promotion of their content as other bloggers reference blog posts through Trackback and social bookmarking sites like Digg and

I think it would be interesting to have some of the editors and writers from, say, The Daily Star and New Age maintain blogs on their sites. I’d venture a guess that some of the writers already have personal blogs (please let us know in the comments if you’re aware of any). I know that has started a blog, but I don’t see it being updated very regularly.

One particular topic I would love to see tracked or blogged in Dhaka more regularly is social and entertainment events. I would love to see the writers and editors from the City Life and Metropolitan desks at our newspapers maintain a blog that maintains a calendar of upcoming events and reviews of events and places to hang out.

Any ideas? (remember, they’re a dime a dozen and everywhere already).

More interestingly, any volunteers?


Professional Corporate Blogging in Bangladesh

Blogging. Corporate Blogging. Professional Corporate Blogging. The first concept is in its very nascence in Bangladesh. We are tying to promote the 2nd and the 3rd concept is a remote one, or is it really?

Do you run a business or a company? Or do you work for one?
Do you think having a paid corporate blogger in your company will be useful?
Do you think along with the conventional marketing tactics you are undertaking, including your website, corporate blogging can be the most powerful tool to promote your products/service to a worldwide internet audience?

Although you can start a blog for your company yourself, probably its too ambitious to do all these on your own at this stage in the context of Bangladesh. With a low penetration of internet usage, low awareness of corporate blogging, its not worth it to do all this now, but is it not worth thinking about it? Find out that person in your company who has a knack for writing on topics, s/he doesn’t necessarily have to be from the Market Research department, somebody from Sales, Customer Service or even HR or IT can do, as long as someone can produce a critical evaluation of your company, its products/services etc. As long as someone can defend allegations, complaints, keep secrets, humbly and gently beat own drums, announce new arrivals etc. all for the sake of your company, the objective is achieved.

It would be nice to see the herald of professional corporate blogging in Bangladesh, sooner or later.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

How to save your job in Bangladesh?

What else do we need to kiss to save our jobs in Bangladesh? Look at the chain above from top to bottom, starting from hand to feet to arse. All for that golden job. Which companies in Bangladesh have this culture the most? All? Some? Telecoms? Banks?....wonder.

Bangladeshi Bloggers Meet

2nd Bangladesh Bloggers Meet was held at Kozmo Lounge, Dhanmondi, Dhaka on 3rd November, Thursday at 5 PM. 36 participants attended the meet to share experience, expertise and expectation on how blogging can make a difference to Bangladesh.

Bangladeshi bloggers representing group blogs such as Somewhere In Blog, Bangladesh Corporate Blogs, individual bloggers and enthusiasts took part in a lively informal interaction to identify present challenges and opportunities in the Bangladeshi blogosphere.

The meet took decision on three issues. A group will be created in Facebook which will work as the platform for all Bangladeshi blogs, which will facilitate quicker information dissemination and action for the Bangladeshi member blogs.

A Bangladeshi Bloggers’ Day will be fixed every year in November/December when all the Bangladeshi bloggers will congregate to celebrate and plan for future.

Also, on the national occasions such as Independence Day, Bengali New Year, Victory Day, all the Bangladeshi blogs will be asked to put up special logo, icons, banner, layout etc. to express solidarity on national ground to the rest of the worldwide internet audience.

The meeting ended with a high note and vote of thanks.

PS. A group called Bangladeshi Bloggers Community has been created in Facebook. Please spread the word around and invite Bangladeshi Blogs to join.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Real Estate and Economic Development: a response

One of my recent posts, "Bulls, Bears & Fools" received a comment from an Anonymous person a couple of days ago that I thought I would share and respond to here in a post. The comment was as follows:
"You put up some good points but has a number of weakness, for e.g. promotion of real estate growth is not good for economic development, it might increase economic growth but does not produce any economic end of the day in real terms such development is useless....there are many other weaknesses in your arguments from a Development Economics standpoint however i dont the time required to talk about them here and plus shower free knowledge in a blog, how brilliant it might be" [sic]
My response is as follows.

Thanks for the comment, Anonymous. There may well be many weaknesses with some of my points, the lack of hard data being my primary weakness. I always hope readers will point out weaknesses and challenge me as you have done.

While your points were slightly besides the point of my original post, please allow me to address your main (and only) point that real estate is (a) “not good for economic development”, and (b) “does not produce any economic output” while somehow “increases economic growth” (to use your own words).

Your first point is perhaps just barely debatable (if not academic), and your second point is, besides being contradictory, not consistent with reality or facts. In fact, you couldn’t be more wrong if you tried.

Real estate basically encompasses land and any permanent fixtures on land. Real estate development encompasses trading and developing land and permanent fixtures on land (including residential, industrial, and commercial properties). In short, this would include companies involved in: labor, construction, brokering, property sales and management, architecture, financial services and investments, appraisal, etc., not to mention all the people and businesses that need a roof over their heads to live and trade under (e.g., retailers, transporters, hotels, restaurants, government, banks, hospitals, etc., etc., etc.)

From a “Development Economics standpoint” (to again use your words), real estate is one of the prime indicators of economic growth, investment, and output. In fact, you will be hard pressed to find a more tangible investment or indicator for economic development and/or output. In fact, in most nations (developed or underdeveloped) a significant portion of national wealth is in the form of real estate. There is also a strong positive link between the health of the real estate market and the overall job market.

And in the Bangladeshi context specifically, where increasing urbanization is taxing our urban centers beyond the point of tolerance for city dwellers (traffic, load shedding, crime, pollution, etc.), I would argue that real estate development in underdeveloped rural areas of Bangladesh is vital to our future social and economic stability as a nation (of course, concurrent with infrastructure development like roads, electricity, and so forth).

Or perhaps I can convince you with some evidence which I gathered online in just under 2 minutes of Googling.

According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), the real estate/renting sector was estimated to contribute Tk. 349,151,000,000 (34915.1 crores) to Bangladesh’s GDP in 2006-7, or 7.74% of total GDP, and growing at 3.77% per annum. By the way, that didn’t include the construction sector which was estimated to perhaps contribute another Tk. 367,701,000,000 (36770.1 crores) to GDP, or about 8.5% of total GDP. To put it another way, at the current exchange rate, those two sectors alone could contribute around USD $10.69 billion directly to our GDP. Or in yet another way, over 15% of our total GDP.

And to put it in yet another and final way, I wonder if the laborers who toil on construction sites all over Bangladesh would agree with you that real estate produces no “economic output”? Or the bank employees who process and issue mortgages? Or the ready-made garments industry that needs to build factories?

If you are working with an alternative definition or understanding of “economic output” or “economic development”, I would strongly encourage you to add to your comments and help us stimulate further debate. I might have misconstrued or misunderstood your comments.

To bring this all back to the original point of my original post: we should be more concerned about the state of “real” economic activity (e.g., real estate) rather than the volatility and probable bubble in the stock market (which is, again, more an indication of returns on financial capital and speculation than “real” economic output). And therefore by extension, our policy makers and economic advisers should focus on policy that stimulates “real” investment in sectors like real estate, rather than try and influence the stock market. Of course, the private sector in the form of Bangladeshi corporates will have to take a leadership position in concert with the public sector.

Perhaps you’ve also seen the recent news in the American economy regarding the subprime lending/mortgage crisis.

It’s regrettable that you didn’t have the time to “shower” us with your “free knowledge” or elaborate your points further in your comments. That’s what will keep this blog from becoming, in fact, quite "brilliant". In the meantime, I humbly suggest you study economic development and investment a little bit further, and then use your knowledge to contribute to our economic development.

Kind regards,
(bengalfoam at gmail dot com)

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Happy Bloggers' Meet

Issues, I have in mind to place at the Bloggers’ meet today:

1. We need to start our own web portal. If blogging on personal web page is not possible right now, then the web should at least contain detailed profiles of the bloggers and update all our members about different news. Note that <> is still available.

2. We may classify our articles by industries. This will reduce the number of tags we have on our blog now.

3. We must have an editorial panel that may edit any article it thinks so. Editorial panel will certainly make all the articles more sparkling and realistic.

4. Bangladesh Corporate Blogs can contribute to the unemployment problem providing job-seekers priceless views about the corporate world. This will unquestionably put in the obliteration of the MAMA-CHACHA.VIRUS from the job market.

5. We have almost 500 members in our Facebook group. Often we find most of these members remain inactive. We actually do not need mass useless members; rather we should keep members who are active, innovative, and enthusiastic.

6. Often I confront questions when I go to promote our blog. As for example, “What’s the benefit? What will I get putting my thoughts on Bangladesh Corporate Blogs? Why should I do this? What’s the return?” and so on. So we should prepare unique answers to these questions. We may provide a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section on our blog or web.

7. Blogging is completely a new idea in Bangladesh. So we have to instruct our folks about this. I ask (with due respect) our marketing enthusiasts to develop a way that is handy yet powerful to educate the people about corporate blogging.

8. I wish we could perform some Social Responsibilities as a team.

9. If some of us get proper accreditation cards or any other identity cards we may interview different corporate personnel regarding their thoughts on various issues.

10. I must admit we work hard. We strive to maximize our potential through this blog. And overall we are patience.
You know…these fuel growth. Today, tomorrow, and in our time to come.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Blog's Vision 2008

We want to divide the coming year in 12 parts and highlight a topic in the blog for each month. following are the areas in terms of appearance in the calendar (1 for Jan, 2 for Feb...)

01. Business education
02. Advertisement/Promotion
03. Business Ethics & Corporate Culture
04. Market Research
05. Customer Service
06. Sales
07. Branding
08. Government Policy
09. CSR
10. Global Business and Bangladesh
11. Financial Management
12. Human Resource Management

We want to arrange polls related to the highlighted topic of the month, arrange audio/video podcasting of students, executives, managers and encourage people to write more on that topic during that month. Other posts will continue.

So how can you help?

1. Inform us if we are missing any important category
2. Become a video blogger, take video interviews of business executives, students you know with the help of your phone/camera, maximum length 1 minute and email it to or upload it to the blog's group in YouTube. The clip should be relevant with the month's theme.
3. Email poll ideas relevant with the topic of the month
4. Post articles on the month's topic
5. Propose new ideas on how we can do things better

Your involvement will make the initiative worthwhile.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Congratulations for Crown of Corporate Corruption

Daily star reports
Bribing of high-ranking politicians, political parties, and senior bureaucrats by businessmen rose substantially last year, bringing the country's ranking in Global Competitive Index (GCI) 2007-'08 down by 15 places compared to its ranking in 2006.According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) report released yesterday, Bangladesh ranked 107th out of 131 countries this year while in 2006 its ranking was 92 out of 125 countries.Bangladesh also slid down by 19 positions in the Business Competitiveness Index (BCI) of 2007, ranking 118th compared to its last year's ranking of 99."Undocumented payments for awarding of public contracts were widespread in the country and the situation further aggravated," said the WEF report which was released here by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD). "It is frustrating that all the survey results are giving negative indications. It's not good for the economy," CPD Executive Director Mustafizur Rahman said at a news briefing while disclosing the report.He identified rampant corruption in the country, inefficient bureaucracy, poor infrastructure, and policy instability as the main reasons for the bleak business environment.The global report was based on perceptions of top executives of business organisations in 131 countries. The report placed India in 48th position in the GCI, while the positions of Pakistan, Sri Lanka, China, and Vietnam are 92nd, 70th, 34th, and 68th respectively.Among the South Asian countries India ranked 31st in the BCI, while Pakistan and Sri Lanka ranked 79th and 52nd respectively.The chapter on Bangladesh was prepared by CPD in collaboration with WEF through interviewing 99 top Bangladeshi business executives during the period between February 2006 and January 2007.About 60 percent of the businessmen interviewed for the report perceived that undocumented extra payments or bribes from one private firm to another to secure businesses are very common in Bangladesh, and the practice is spreading. The report said although the corporate ethics of Bangladesh changed a bit, they are still among the world's worst.It went on to say that bribes are also common in connection with public utilities, export-import, and annual public contracts. A similar situation prevails in annual tax payments too.The issues considered for the global perception survey included government and public institutions, infrastructure, innovation and technology, financial environment, business operation and sophistication, education and human capital, and corruption."In terms of all indicators, Bangladesh's ranking has slid down considerably," the report said. Bangladesh is among the bottom 10 countries in terms of institutional efficiency where it ranked 126th, in higher education and training its ranking is also 126th, while in technological readiness it ranked 125th. Bangladesh's rank is relatively better regarding its market size putting it in the 36th position, in financial market sophistication it ranked 75th, while in terms of labour market efficiency its ranking is 76th, the report said.Referring to the business environment in the country, the report said a very low level of public trust in financial honesty of politicians, and favouritism of government officials for well connected firms and individuals while deciding policies and contracts -- are the key reasons for the country's poor performance in the BCI.Mustafizur Rahman, however, was optimistic about the country's performance in next year's GCI as the present government already had taken some reform measures. "We hope to get a better picture in the GCI of 2008," he said. A sense of apprehension and uncertainty prevails among businessmen, he said adding, "However, if the initiatives taken by the government work properly, it might give us better results."
So there is a difference between waking up and being enlightened. 'ghum theke otha ar jaga ek kotha noy'. So we should wake up if we still have not, and if we have waken up, its time to get enlightened. The way ACC and the joint forces are installing themselves in various government offices, who knows when they start knocking the doors of Bangladeshi corporates. Well it will help to some extent to clean the corporate corruption prevailing in the country, how do we cleanse the minds of the corrupt Bangladeshi managers and bosses?