Greater Manchester cottons-on to Bangladeshi IT boom

A Bangladeshi boom in technology could spell employment opportunities in Britain

A digital revolution in the East could create thousands of jobs here in Greater Manchester – thanks to a deal brokered by Oldham entrepreneurs.

An historic agreement between the Sylhet and GM Chambers of Commerce could result in trade between the two countries becoming a whole lot easier.

And that could mean Britain benefits from a digital upturn that has placed the once impoverished country into one of the first eleven most thriving economies in the world (1).

“Whilst the rest of the planet has struggled, Bangladesh has seen a 7.2% rise in global revenue since the pandemic” said Kashif Ashraf, the Oldham President for Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, “this is largely based on its ability to produce high-tech digital products at far lower costs than its neighbours in India. Places such as Hyde, Oldham and Rochdale have historic links that go back to working in the mills. This agreement puts Britain in a unique position to open new reciprocal markets there and begin to repair the hole in our economy caused by Brexit.”

Oldham has enjoyed connections with Bangladesh that began to flourish in the 1960s and 70s, due to opportunities within the rag trade, plus it being a safe haven from the War of Independence with Pakistan. This community’s positive influence has extended to health, business, technology, politics and now a firm desire to give back – to both communities.

Muzahid Khan, the Deputy Lieutenant for Greater Manchester, was present as Tahmin Ahmed, the President of Sylhet Chamber of Commerce and Industry signed the document on Bangladesh’s behalf. He said: “The event was the zenith of a fact-finding mission which also included visits to orphanages, factories and even a plant that is manufacturing products to reduce the amount of arsenic in the country’s drinking water.”

The tour was organised by Janala Tours a new social enterprise focused on tourism with purpose.  Others who participated includes, Cllr Abdul Malik and Mayor of City of Carlisle Cllr Abdul Harid who is a former Oldhamer.

Anwar Ali OBE, the Managing Director of Oldham social enterprise Upturn was also part of the Manchester team. He added: “What Bangladesh offers in new business opportunities, we matched with expertise in the idea of social enterprise leading community change. For all its progress, parts of the country are still desperately poor. I witnessed a youth initiative where football was being played on hard ground without boots and with sticks for goalposts. This was only possibly because of a philanthropist. It was a million miles away from the projects we have in the UK, and so we can play a role in making care for young people and communities, part of everyday business in Bangladesh.”