“The Bangladeshi software engineers,” chuckles Peter van Bergen, the CEO of Impel IT Solutions, when asked about what inspired him to start an IT firm in Bangladesh. He goes on to list what he likes about them—talent, dedication, spirit, and fairly good English. On average, their programming skills are high, he says, since their education is technically sound.
IT graduates in Bangladesh are joining the nation’s workforce in huge numbers, but only one-fifth of them are employed. The country’s IT is a high-growth sector and integrating it further into the Bangladeshi economy would drive spillover effects into – just to begin with – real estate, foodservice, cosmetics, etc. since purchasing power increases as the paychecks get fatter.
It was this scenario, the potential in it, that brought Impel IT Solutions into the picture. A Dutch firm registered in Bangladesh, Impel IT Solutions allows its clients, who are for now all Dutch, to have their IT team fully situated in Bangladesh. In exchange for a monthly fee of only 250 Euros, the company provides the infrastructure, namely the office set-up, while the client hires software designers from among Impel’s pool of employees. In less than a year, Impel’s IT professionals have demonstrated that Bangladeshi software designers can compete with the rest of the world.
The economy of Bangladesh which is growing at a 6 percent annual rate, is driven by its well-known apparel industry. However it is expected that its emergent information technology sector would stand to transform Bangladesh from a labor-intensive economy into a knowledge-based one. In late June, Bangladesh announced it would partner with Indian IT giant Infosys to build Bangladesh’s largest technology park, a complex that will employ as many as 60,000 information technology professionals. Sited about 25 miles north of Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, the new technology park attract Bangladeshi and foreign entrepreneurs seeking to tap the country’s youthful, digitally savvy workforce. Bangladesh’s ambition: to become a world leader in graphic design and web and mobile app development. The sprawling tech park is only the latest example of Bangladesh trying to provide an expansive employment base for its citizens, lure foreign capital and make Bangladesh an IT powerhouse.