“We must remember that there was once a prosperous time in our lives and it is up to us to bring it back or maintain it”
A self-made businessman, Md. Sabur Khan started his business career as an IT businessman, in 1990 with Daffodil Computers Limited (DCL) a public listed IT company. He proved himself as a serial entrepreneur and established more than 35 new ventures. He ventured into the education sector in 1996 and since then has successfully founded 17 ventures one by one, including Daffodil International University (DIU). He is a former President of the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), and Bangladesh Computer Samity (BCS) and is the Chairman of the Global Trade Committee and Director of World IT & Services Alliances (WITSA).
He has written & published several books on entrepreneurship. He has been recognized by many organizations, nationally and internationally for his expertise in entrepreneurship, business and IT.
Who inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
I can site two people as my inspirations behind becoming an entrepreneur. When I was just starting my business, the Managing Director of Urban Design and Development Limited, Nazim Uddin Ahmed, would come to the office regularly. He was a student of IBA (Institute of Business Administration); I greatly admired his ability to balance a career and excel in one of the toughest programs of the country. Nazim has taught me a great deal about integrity, commitment and perseverance; accomplishing so much at the same and performing with his true potential. The second would be Sufi Mizanur Rahman, the Chairman of PHP Group. He has taught me the most about the mannerisms of an entrepreneur and emphasized the need for humility, cordiality and sacrifice.
You are committed to the idea of educating and training entrepreneurs. What is the driving force behind this initiative?
Sufi Mizanur Rahman inspired me to ask my students how much they were willing to sacrifice for the knowledge and wisdom that they were receiving. It is simply an exercise to see their willingness to envision a world beyond their own fundamental needs and I believe that this is a quality that every student needs. They must look beyond themselves because they are responsible for the conglomerate that is under them, regardless of how small or great in number the staff is. When I had acquired enough money I had purchased land for my employees to live in and helped my brother with his business. I realized then that I have a knack for helping businessmen find their true potential. Furthermore, I have always emphasized the need for those more fortunate to contribute to their society. These ideologies start from a well-rounded education. Our efforts have proven to be successful as we produce 2,500 graduates annually. I would like each of those students to create a better life for themselves while improving the society that is a testament of their integrity.
You have had a very successful and diverse career. Could you elaborate upon your beginning and the ventures you have committed to?
Upon the introduction of computers in Bangladesh, I started my own business endeavors. I created the first “superstore” where all the parts and necessary components of computers could be found in Kalabagan. My idea was that this would be a one-stop shop for everything that was necessary for a functioning computer. It led me to become the General Secretary of the Computer Samity; this was my first experience in a leadership position. I continued to become the President of DCCI. It was during this time that I conducted research and published several papers on the education and shaping of an entrepreneur. This inspired me to create a university that would develop that provide the knowledge, training and application of a business education through what is Daffodil Institute of Information Technology (DIIT).
What inspired the name Daffodil?
When I was ten, I vividly recall reading Wordworth’s poem, Daffodils; the poem iterates a story of a person finding hope during a gloomy day upon the site of daffodils. The character reminisces about their memories in the field every time they feel depressed or through any difficult situation. I think the greatest message that poem sends is that a positive attitude is imperative. We must remember that there was once a prosperous time in our lives and it is up to us to bring it back or maintain it.
What are some of the greatest challenges entrepreneurs face in the country?
There is a lack of information on modern techniques among entrepreneurs in Bangladesh to fully integrate with the businesses on a global level. We must prove that Bangladeshi entrepreneurs have a measureable degree of integrity and competence. The government’s implementation of more serious laws will now show the international platform that we abide by rules that make us trustworthy. Many entrepreneurs have the potential and the vision to expand their businesses to the most developed parts of the world and it is time that they recognize that potential.
The era of digitalization is upon us and it has further integrated the world. How do you feel that this change future business trends?
Technology has become the determining factor for any business to flourish. Any curriculum that is geared towards creating new entrepreneurs should teach students technological developments and how to utilize the cyber world in order to expand their ventures. With the incorporation of technology, it has become much easier for countries like our own, which have rich resources but lack development to present these as products for the international market. The platform for business has become more global with the outreach greater than ever. No business will reach a recognizable degree on a national or international stage if technology is not incorporated.
How can we alleviate this regression in Bangladesh?
The change begins with the teaching of our future entrepreneurs. Our education system is not up to the desired level to match international standards. If a student is not given the proper education and knowledge, they will never learn to implement the proper methodology into the corporate field or any other professional environment for that matter. We must guide our students towards the trends for them to find the most fruitful ventures. For example, India has invested their youth towards the aeronautics when the prospects of expansion were in their initial stages. The business is now booming in India. Similarly, we must guide our students to the best programs in the world and allow them to bring their knowledge back to the country. Our service, agriculture and IT sector have the potential to expand into a global entity. If the proper persons are cultivating these domains with the proper methodology, the economy will flourish.