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UN mulling establishment of regional innovation hub in Dhaka

UN mulling establishment of regional innovation hub in Dhaka

Eastern Times Correspondent, Dhaka, 9 February : Bangladesh has a robust, viable, and active startup community, the right ecosystem, and a government fully committed to supporting innovation and startups, UN Technology Bank Managing Director Joshua Setipa tells Dhaka Tribune

Encouraged by a vibrant startup ecosystem in Bangladesh, the United Nations Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries along with the UNDP and the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs have launched a global call for entrepreneurs to find innovative solutions for financial inclusion in Bangladesh.

The move comes at a time when the UN Technology Bank is also planning to establish a regional hub for innovation in Dhaka.

These initiatives come as part of the SDG Impact Accelerator (SDGia), a global accelerator launched by the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and UNDP in 2018. Recently, SDGia opened its second global call for impact entrepreneurs to find innovative solutions for SDG-related complex development challenges. During the second SDGia program, startups will work on products and services in the field of financial inclusion in Bangladesh and digital agriculture in Uganda.

In Bangladesh, financial inclusion is a critical enabler on many aspects such as eradicating poverty, ending hunger, achieving food security, and promoting sustainable agriculture, leading to profiting health and well-being. It also enhances topics such as achieving gender equality and economic empowerment of women; promoting economic growth and jobs; supporting industry, innovation, and infrastructure.

Therefore, the urgent transformation of the current financial system with innovative solutions after the pandemic is the ultimate goal of the program.

Just before the closing of the applications on January 31st, the SDGia team and representatives of partners came together at a live webinar on 27 January where founding Managing Director and CEO of Startup Bangladesh Limited – a public limited company under the ICT Division – Tina Jabeen said the number of Bangladesh’s active startups rose to over 2500 from less than 300 over the last five years.

In an exclusive interview with Dhaka Tribune, Managing Director of the UN Technology Bank Joshua Setipa said Bangladesh has one of the most dynamic startup communities and “on innovation and startups, Bangladesh is the right place to start.”

Setipa comes to the UN Technology Bank from the World Bank, where he has been leading strategic engagements with West Africa. From 2015 – 2017, Setipa served as Trade and Industry Minister of Lesotho. Before, he was Senior Advisor to the Director-General of the World Trade Organization for over six years. He holds a Master of Business Administration and International Finance from the University of Bradford, UK.

Headquartered in Gebze, Turkey, the UN Technology Bank supports national and regional technological efforts, reinforces partnerships across sectors and helps nations identify and use appropriate technologies to transform their economies and improve livelihoods.

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