28th June 2023
Nazir Mohammod Towhid ALAM, holds 27 years of experience across several verticals (and counting). From retail and fashion to TV, hospitality, and education, it’s fair to say that Nazir’s breadth of cross-sector knowledge is notable.
Nazir represents multiple ICT platforms, one of which is Dotlines, currently based at Level39. Dotlines is a software company that originated in the far east and has since expanded globally, as well as having a base here in Canary Wharf, London. It proactively helps by offering technology driven solutions to make the processes of businesses and the lives of customers easier. Nazir organised the first-ever Leadership Development programme titled ‘The Future Leaders Programme (The FLP)’ in Bangladesh. This would be similar to the UK’s well known ‘The Apprentice’. The programme landed guided examples of multiple IT based solutions including 999 services, cross location food delivery systems, customer safety focused taxi services, and effective hospital management systems (to name a few), which have been broadcasted on TV.
As mentioned, Nazir’s plate is rather full – whilst running successful businesses, he also sits on Boards of multiple entities including, ‘United Development Initiatives for Programmed Action (UDDIPAN)’. Established in 1984 in Bangladesh with 1,001 branches and 6,800 staff, it is the 3rd largest Foundation in terms of the tax return in FY 2021-22, and aims to promote enterprises in Bangladesh and key external areas of development, including the UK.
At present, UDDIPAN is piloting with DOTLINES, the accessibility of WiFi to rural micro-enterprises, and through those, plans to marginalise users of the rural communities, promoting market access and linkages of produce nationwide, as well as within external markets. This can be achieved through online based learning, access to public services, micro-saving and networking. UDDIPAN is motivated by improving social impact and focuses on bettering opportunities for minority groups. For example in May 2023 UDDIPAN reached 1.28 million households through community health with 4,900 health assistants, championing a pharmacy owned and ran solely by females. Social impact is also supported through sustainable initiatives such as preserving biodiversity, conservation of bird sanctuaries and plantation, and contributing to a greener future through renewable energy based technologies.
Without a doubt, there will always be barriers when working across different markets, Nazir explained a few limitations he experiences on a day to day basis. Firstly, the online market in Bangladesh is 90% COD (cash on delivery), hence logistic service providers play a vital role to collect money from the customer and transfer it to merchants, as quickly as possible. This means that only reliable 3PLs are trusted for ensuring end-to-end services. Another issue is connectivity – in Bangladesh only 39% of the total population use the internet. However, with the growing spread of network accessibility for rural communities (60% of the population), online users and sales should increase. The next challenge for Nazir is educating these communities and building a firm trust around ecommerce.
So, how can Nazir and his team at UDDIPAN help UK based entrepreneurs, such as the ones here at Level39? UDDIPAN’s Board of Directors recently visited Level39 to better understand the potential of growth through opening possibilities together. UDDIPAN has $330 mil in circulation, as micro-credit facilities for entrepreneurs who receives fund on the basis of social collateral; UDDIPAN has voice-operated micro-billing and money management system in place and is the exclusive partner of the largest Money Wallet platform in Bangladesh with access to 30,000 co-branded outlets, it is also in the process of acquiring the license of a Digital Bank, and introducing its own Bond.
To begin with, they will continue to promote international products in Bangladesh through online presence (and social media) as UDDIPAN continues to invest in the Bangladesh segment, reaching the targeted customers. UDDIPAN will fund and provide adequate warehouse facilities and help online sellers to maintain inventory and obtain order management through an already deployed system and existing API connections. A data driven model will guide the optimal use of the warehouse facilities, ensuring faster order fulfillments. Furthermore, they will provide the opportunity to develop the traditional C2C market into tech-based solutions where UDDIPAN can provide total logistics support for new markets to grow, in turn boosting opportunities for cross border business. With its experience in working nationwide, UDDIPAN provides unmatched experience and data about market inefficiencies, gaps, needs and optimal solutions for those needs. This will enable UK products to be customized for the local market. And finally, UDDIPAN partners in investment with prospective entrants of UK enterprises into Bangladesh – helping start-ups like the ones at Level39 enter a new market, full of opportunity.
If you would like to connect with Nazir, you can do so via the Level39 Slack channel – or perhaps you will catch him around Level39!