After the successful completion of the SMARTCAP Boot Camp, held on 24 January 2018; Business Finance for the Poor in Bangladesh (BFP-B), in association with Venture Investment Partners Bangladesh (VIPB), Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture Bangladesh (SFSA Bangladesh) and LightCastle Partners, moved forward in organizing the next phase of the event by holding the “SMARTCAP Accelerator Program”. Out of the 45+ participants, the judges picked out the top 28, who were invited to partake in the accelerator program held from 4-5 February and 18-20 February, 2019 at BRAC Learning Center, Rangpur.
The first residential program was inaugurated by Mr. Bijon Islam, CEO and co-founder of LightCastle Partners where he welcomed the participants and gave a short speech on the importance of such an impact investment program and encouraged them to make the most of the program. The second session of the day was by Mr. Ziauddin Ahmed, Chairman, VIPB; he took a session on Business ethics and investments. The third session of the event was run by Mr. Shahinur Islam, Program Manager, SFSA who spoke about the methods and technology related to farmer’s hub project and its prospect in helping them reach their full production potential and expand their enterprises. The sessions of the first residential program mainly consisted of business planning, fundamentals of business, business modelling, introduction to the Farmer’s Hub model, Farmer’s Hub building and management. The second day of the event ended with an experience sharing session where past accelerator program participants came to share their journey with SMARTCAP and their achievements till now.
The second residential program was held from the 18-20 February where the participants were given lessons on Franchisee Relation by Bhupesh Roy, MD, GBK Ltd; Farmer’s Hub products and services by ASM Shahin, Project Manager, SFSA; Annual planning by Shahinur Islam, Program Manager, SFSA; Agri-tech: Mechanization by , introduction to e-hub android mobile app, the art and style of pitching by Ivdad Ahmed Khan Mojlish, MD, LightCastle Partners; Business communication, business ethics and corporate governance by Anis Ahmed, Senior Investment Officer, VIPB, banking services in agriculture. A total of 4 banks were present during the banking services session namely South East Bank, Meghna Bank, NCC Bank, The City Bank. Senior executives such as Head of Branch, SAVP, FAVP and Senior Officer of the banks were present to showcase the services being provided by them for improving the agricultural sector.
The participants during both the residential programs took part in critical thinking and group activities to enhance their cognitive skill and knowledge. Activities such case-solving session, where they were tested on numerous grounds to help recognize their understanding of the agri-business landscape of the country. Pop-up quizzes, quantitative case study on financial management were given to them to evaluate their understanding and problem solving skill. Representatives of LightCastle Partners & SFSA helped facilitate the event and hosted the agri-business case analysis session, assisting the farmers and encouraging them to form strong analysis of the case study. The participants also took part in group building activities such as debate and a volleyball match to instill the notion of leadership and team work in them.
A demo day is scheduled to be held on the 27 February, where the prospective agri-entrepreneurs would pitch to potential investors, out of which 15 farmers would be chosen to receive investment to help improve their business and implement the Farmers’ Hub model.