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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Pees of doing business in Bangladesh

McCarthy must have become a household name for students of business management. The management guru who looked to marketing management through the lenses of 4Ps (Product, Place, Price, Promotion) has given us enough insight to formulate our marketing strategies for our businesses. Lately more Ps have been added to this alphabet soup for management as the triple bottom line (abbreviated as "TBL" or "3BL", and also known as "people, planet, profit" or "the three pillars") which captures an expanded spectrum of values and criteria for measuring organizational (and societal) success: economic, ecological and social. I wonder if the time has arrived to consider more Ps when it comes to doing business in Bangladesh or not. I voiced these Ps, tailormade for Bangladesh, to Farooq Sobhan Sir, President of Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) during his recent visit to London to encourage non-resident Bangladeshis to invest in Bangladesh. I hoped that Farooq Sobhan Sir would take these into account before he also becomes Sir Farooq Sobhan or something like that thanks to Knight Ridership by Her Majesty the Queen. Essentially the Ps to take into account for doing business in Bangladesh are Politics, Power, Population and Pollution over which we as individual citizens or consumers, have little control. Interestingly you will notice that the related terminologies also somehow start with a P to indicate the Present scenario.

So doing business in Bangladesh certainly needs to take into account the much celebrated and much condemned issue of Politics. Ruling and opposition parties and the vested interest of politicians in various business sectors play a crucial role in determining the success of your business. There is perhaps no harm in treating the Bangladeshi politicians as a special type of your business customers, who are ever consuming, the more they consume, the more they want to consume. They love speed money as incentives and hold tremendous power to shut down your businesses showing or not showing silly causes anytime they want.

Try having some current ruling members of parliament or local political leaders in your management board to sail through the tenure as its very unlikely that they will reappear in power next time round, so plan your business cycles on a 5 year basis and prepare to rename your busines if required every 5 years to keep ruling politicians happy.

Power cuts:
As the Bangladeshi politicians burp on having accummulated a lot of power to make sure that their generations are well off for the next century studying or living in the West, power cuts- disruption in the supply of regular electricity, gas and water have turned out to be a veritable nightmare for businesses and general population alike in Bangladesh. Even the so called elite and upper class of Bangladesh (especially living in the golden triangle of Dhaka - Gulshan, Baridhara, Banani) are fuming because of the unprecedented power crisis in Bangladesh and their lack of power in turning on their air conditioners, IPS or generators. Let's not talk about the Poor as its a mundane topic and populace which everyone talks about to appear genuinely concerned. The businesses have been surely hit hard and are exasperating how to get out of this power starvation. This is not only adding to the operational costs of doing business but also contributing to falling productivity of workers who are faced with yet another challenge in another day of business life in Bangladesh.

If there is enough electricity available, try thinking of ways how your business can save power. Don't just stop there, announce it and inform your consumers that you are being an active corporate citizen by 'helping in every way possible' to preserve the energy and work 'hand in hand with the government' to make sure that 'optimum use of energy' is taking place during this crisis moment. The sentences in quote are certainly mere eye-washes which looks good on your corporate CV, given the current situation, so use them carefully. Remember its a real crisis out there which is not funny anymore.

The more you associate yourself with environment friendly business projects, the more you can talk about it. Climate change is a hot and spicy curry item served in Western meetings of delegates and heads of states. Measuring your 'carbon footprint' in the context of Bangladesh would certainly make your business look informed and concerned about the cause. So along with distributing branded blankets to urban poor in rail stations, focus more on planting trees, recycling, biogas or anything that is related with reducing pollution and has a close link with your core competence. Practice it and promote it.

This is a tricky one. Its very unlikely that Bangladeshi companies can do much in the matter of controlling a teeming population in Bangladesh. There are too many people everywhere and atleast one person available to do any of your work, starting from driving your car, washing your clothes, cleaning your house, watering your garden, cooking your food to massaging your legs.

Businesses need to take into account training this huge pool of labour. Its easy to ask for experience in job adverts but if there is not enough scope to get jobs in the first place, experience would remain a unicorn fantasy. So businesses can think of opening the door for voluntary job placements, even unpaid or minimally paid for semi-skilled population. Prioritising employees with only 2 children or those who belong to a 2 sibling family are also future foods for thought for Bangladeshi employers (Go China go!). Since businesses can't control what happens in bedrooms, atleast they can control things in the interview boardrooms with respect to encouraging to keep population in check.

So please take into account these extra 4 Ps of doing business in Bangladesh. These have become genuine Problems and are affecting ordinary Public. The P category policitians are Painfully Procrastinating the Prosperity of Bangladesh and only Patriotism will not be Powerful enough to undergo this man-made crisis. There is no alternative to Planning, Practicing and thus reaching to some sort of a Peaceful situation for doing business in Bangladesh. I guess I have mentioned enough Ps in this Para to make a nice diagram out of it incorporating the external environment, goals, stakeholders etc. Can you think of any other Peeful terms or activities which will Progress these issues in the context of Bangladeshi businesses? If yes, then please release your Pees without further ado.


prantar said...

i m quite certain that by now all of the robi team members r disgusted by hearing negetive approaches to ur new name....along with everyone else i wud also add 'cheers u have successfully highlighted urselves as the worst telecom name holder in the country so far....'
but i m yet to understand how exactly u chose this name. if this robi was ur choice of some nutritious drink or some fertilizer kind of product then i cud exactly do u guyz plan to relate a telecom with robi????is it that aktel phones r now charged by solar power???? or is it that u tried to relate to orange...."orange is round and its a food" so"robi is round as well" like that??? i wonder if aktel ever had some intelligent people working or ever roaming cud they fail to explain the management how stupid the name really is......
pls dont take my comments personally i only felt the need u explain exactly how stupid the name robi is.....
however i was using an aktel sim along with a grameen now i had to replace my old aktel sim with a warid one....congratulations u have earned 1 less client at least as a result of ur new name ROBI

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