Mohammad Azizul Hoque, a young and successful entrepreneur from Chandpur district's kachua, started to evince interest in the information technology sector when he was in college.
After taking admission in Dhaka's City College in 2001, Azizul began working on webpage designing and assembling personal computers by collecting hard disks, motherboard and other computer equipment.
Using the little savings he made through troubleshooting computers, he bought a few computers in 2006 and started his own company Nextdecade Technology Limited, which initially was a web development firm. Later, he started communicating with other companies and gradually expanded to software development.
At present, yearly turnover in Azizul's company is over Tk35 crore, with 150 IT professionals working there.
The mid-career entrepreneur is one of the recipients of the National SME Entrepreneur Award 2021.
Speaking to The Business Standard, Azizul, the Nextdecade owner said, "In the beginning, I needed to have a lot of funds and do research for large-scale software development. I had to give up many products to multinational companies as gaining their trust was the most challenging for me."
Azizul's initiative, efficiency and innovative activities of the company came to the notice of a private financial institution, which supported him at the time. Azizul then created Over-the-Top (OTT) services for the telecom operator Banglalink.
Over-the-top (OTT) services, popularly known as streaming services, provide television channels and other film content to users using the Internet service instead of the conventional cable or dish connection. Banglalink introduced OTT services for their customers under the name of Toffee Apps.
Toffee is currently a popular app among Bangladeshis, especially young people. The app currently has about 16 million users in Bangladesh.
The technology called VTS (vehicle tracking solution) is also an invention of Azizul's NextDecade Technology Limited, he said.
"There is a huge international market here. Many students studying IT in this country want to be entrepreneurs in the IT sector and have all kinds of talents, but due to lack of money they are forced to go for jobs, go to other professions and waste their talents," said Azizul.
"If the state provides collateral-free easy bank loans to young, small and medium entrepreneurs, the future young generation will be able to earn a lot of foreign currency," he said, adding that annual turnover of his company can go up to at least Tk150-160 crore in the next 10 years if they receive government patronage, which will also create employment for 1000 to 15000 people.
Asked about the matter, SME Foundation Managing Director Dr Mafizur Rahman told TBS, "The government is keen on providing long-term collateral-free loan facilities to SME entrepreneurs and it is also urging banks to provide loan facilities to small entrepreneurs in this category."
Commenting on Azizul's success, Dr Mafizur Rahman said, "The business success of Azizul Hoque in the IT sector has inspired small young entrepreneurs across the country."