DHAKA, Bangladesh

Turkey’s ambassador to Bangladesh on Monday expressed Ankara’s keen interest in stepping up efforts with Dhaka to support its Digital Bangladesh program, especially through partnerships in the information technology (IT) and e-commerce sectors.  

“There is great potential for collaboration between the two fraternal states, as both countries have growing economies and vibrant startup ecosystems,” Mustafa Osman Turan said during a webinar titled “Connecting Turkish & Bangladeshi Startup Ecosystems.” 

The Digital Bangladesh program, launched in 2009, aims to be at the forefront of achieving Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s vision of transforming Bangladesh into a digital economy by 2021 and a knowledge-based economy by 2041.

Station Dhaka, the Startup Ecosystems Connector in Bangladesh, and Startup Bangladesh Limited, in collaboration with the Turkish embassy in Dhaka and SDG Impact Accelerator (SDGia.org), jointly organized the online event.

Praising Bangladesh for its great contribution as the world’s second largest provider of IT professionals, Turan pointed out the similarities in state policy between the two countries in promoting innovative sectors.

“Both governments are very keen on supporting entrepreneurs,” he said, adding the government of Bangladesh through its “Digital Bangladesh” program has opened “a great horizon” for others to work here.

Turan noted that Bangladesh is “quite resilient” and praised the country’s performance in facing the coronavirus pandemic, which has already paralyzed many developed countries.

“They [Bangladesh] have demonstrated a very innovative approach in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

The webinar’s organizers also noted that the Turkish embassy is about to launch the SDGia program in Bangladesh in the first quarter of 2021.

“Station Dhaka has been closely connected with the Turkish IT sector through its founders,” said a pre-webinar statement.

It added that Station Dhaka together with the Turkish embassy also plans to organize more events in the “Turkish-Bangladeshi Innovations & Technologies Series.”

Speakers at the webinar also placed emphasis on joint efforts in the fintech, agriculture and health sectors.

They said that in the post COVID-19 period, great care and joint drives will be required in these sectors for the greater interest of people not only in this region but also worldwide.

SDGia, Turkey’s first international impact accelerator, was launched by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in partnership with UNDP, WFP (2020 Nobel Peace Prize Winner), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Qatar Fund for Development as well as large Turkish companies LIMAK and Eczacıbaşı. The UN Technology Bank for the LDCs based in Turkey will also join the program in Bangladesh as a new partner. 

The program harnesses the potential of collaboration across sectors and disciplines and leverages the power of entrepreneurship, innovation and technology to address the challenges that refugees face on a daily basis, according to the United Nations Development Programme Turkey (UNDP Turkey). 

“Turkey has a track record of exploring the ways in which effective development assistance can be delivered to the communities who need it most. To that end, we have developed new partnerships and launched innovative projects. United Nations Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in Gebze, Turkey and SDG Impact Accelerator are the most recent examples of these projects,” said Turkey’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faruk Kaymakci on the SDGia.org website. 

“While the Technology Bank will develop capacity for technology transfer to the LDCs, the Accelerator will convene partners from across sectors and fields of expertise to prototype products and services for the most vulnerable groups in the world such as refugees. Turkey alone hosts over 4 million displaced people including 3.6 million Syrians and we believe our Accelerator can empower their entrepreneurship to deliver innovative and sustainable solutions to tackle the challenges they face and fulfil their potentials.”

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