Workshop with Mass Mobility Service Providers in Bangladesh

by Bijon Islam

Date: Thursday, 25th November 2021
Time: 14:30 – 16:00 (Dhaka Time)
Platform: Zoom Virtual event hosted by LightCastle Partners

Electric Vehicle (EV) scaling workshop titled “Development of an EV financing tool and business model to enable the scaling up of EV uptake in Bangladesh” was organized by Lightcastle Partners and Ricardo Plc on November 25, 2021. This event is part of the UK Government-funded ‘’Road to a Green Bangladesh‘’ project which is surveying the local uptake of EV in the current circumstances.

The main topics of discussion in the workshop were: 

  • The barriers around EV adoption
  • Mobilizing Investments in the EV ecosystem
  • Women’s employment in the sector in Bangladesh

The workshop also presented the findings of the survey done by Ricardo and the Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) team in the scope of the EV ecosystem. The event was moderated by Mehad ul Haque, Senior Business Consultant and Project Manager of Lightcastle Partners. 

Bijon Islam, CEO of LightCastle Partners, stated in his welcome note to the participants that Bangladesh is already moving in the direction of implementing EV in the country. Mate Antosik, Programme Coordinator of Ricardo, shared the results of the financial institution survey. He stated, “For our studies, we reached out to financial institutions about their loan facilities for sustainable products and solutions. We found out that about half of them are already offering it and about one-fourth of them are interested in EV implementation for low carbon emission technologies.”

Fig: Rural Women in the EV Business

Along with these findings, Silvia Sartori, Senior Project Manager at ENERGIA Hivos, and Hasna J. Khan, Director, Prokaushuli Sangsad Limited, focused on Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) in the scope of the EV ecosystem. Silvia mentioned that “The UK’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund intends to support growth and reduction of carbon emissions. We are putting special emphasis on gender and social Inclusion on two-fold, where we are supporting companies to implement EV in the ecosystem and also supporting a specific batch of women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh who wish to include EV into their operations.”

Fig: Representatives of local mobility service providers attending the workshop

The attendees that joined this event represented the following companies – Shuttle, Lily, Loop Freight, REDX, Goods in Motion, and Jatri. The presentations by Mate and Silvia were followed by a 60-minute discussion session, where the attendees shared their opinions and experiences. Here is a summary of the discussion that took place in the workshop; speaker’s serial has been maintained for the conversational flow.

Bijon Islam
CEO, LightCastle Partners

“The EV implementation in Bangladesh has been in discussion, and the logistics and mobility industry who works relentlessly has been helping us to understand the required steps to take the EV landscape to the next stage. The government has been supporting the four-wheeler landscape. We have been seeing the emergence of electric vehicles not just in European countries but in Asia too. We are hoping that Bangladesh will soon join this green revolution.”

Mate Antosik
Programme Coordinator, Ricardo

“This program aims to upscale the EV uptake in Bangladesh and Ricardo is working with the demand side of the uptake. A survey was conducted on small enterprises on the need for electric vehicles for their businesses and also on financial institutions for the supply side. For the surveys, 13 financial institutions were initially chosen and most of them had women as their primary customer base. They shared their loan facilities for sustainable products and solutions. About half of them are already offering these loan facilities and about one-fourth of them are interested in EV implementation for low carbon emission technologies.”

Silvia Sartori
Senior Project Manager, ENERGIA Hivos

“The UK’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund intends to support poverty alleviation and reduction of carbon emissions while also fostering Gender Equality and Social Inclusion. In this project our emphasis on GESI is twofold: on the one hand, we are strengthening GESI in the EV ecosystem, on the other hand, we are supporting a specific batch of women entrepreneurs, in rural and urban areas of Bangladesh, who wish to include EV into their operations. In the area of mobility service providers, the engagement of women matters both in the workforce as well as a customer segment. We are particularly looking at what barriers hinder a wider participation of women and what opportunities an industry expansion could provide for a stronger inclusion of women.“

Hasna J. Khan
Director, Prokaushuli Sangsad Limited

“This project is supporting a small group of rural women entrepreneurs who own EVs for business using loans from a Microfinance Institution in Bangladesh. General accounting training was provided to these women. They started calculating their expenses and saving up for the maintenance of their EV. The project is also working with a group of urban women who have successfully established their own businesses, and they are potential users of EV. A survey was conducted on the urban women entrepreneurs where it was found out that the desired training was mostly based on business planning, financial access, e-marketing, legal support. These urban women entrepreneurs received training on finance and accounting to expand their business with an opportunity for growth. Through these surveys, PSL is positive about gender inclusion in the sector of clean energy and low carbon emission in their transport sector.”

Reyasat Chowdhury
Founder and CEO, Shuttle

“From the initial assessment and information, providing electric vehicles through Shuttle’s service will decrease the three-fourth of the fuel cost, hence decreasing the overall cost for the company and the users. While the core segment of the users comes from the student and service holder class, if the cost is significantly lower than the present cost, Shuttle will be able to cater to the low-income group of users. How EV is going to help the current landscape is still vague and that is one of the biggest challenges for moving forward.”

Syed Saif
Founder and CEO, Lily

“Lily is a technology based service provider where all customers and the service providers are women. Lily runs with a small fleet of only 27 delivery women called ‘Lilygals’. We have tried to implement EV on a smaller scale through our fleet, but as EV cannot be registered, traffic penalties and harassment ensued. For now, we dropped the ridesharing service but we are planning to relaunch it by next year with a new solution.”

Iftekher Bin Naser Chowdhury
Chief of Staff, REDX

“ShopUp is actively researching the EV implementation in Bangladesh for the logistics industry. The government and the policymakers have long-term visions about Digital Bangladesh where EV can play a big role. To fully adopt EV in the ecosystem there need to be overall policy changes as well as incentivization to change the existing consumer behavior.”

Rajib Das
Founder and CEO, Loop Freight

“Loop maneuvers mainly in B2B space, which is very price sensitive and presents behavioral changes. Transitioning the fleet into EV is expensive and external support is needed in this regard for companies who work in the corporate area. EVs can provide consistency in fuel pricing and vehicle cost. Though the biggest challenges are price sensitivity, businesses like Loop can plan without contingencies and implement EV into the fleet with proper ecosystem support.”

Abrar Chowdhury
Head of Marketing, Goods in Motion

“Goods in motion is working in the logistics industry in the vision of digitizing this industry through web applications. On the note of adaptation of EV in Bangladesh, it is given that the key players will eventually adopt the technology. But barriers like financing and lack of knowledge persist. Large fleet owners are yet to understand the needfulness of EVs in their fleet. It is a matter of adoption, proper education, and understanding. We believe financing can be easier in contrary what everyone believes as we have seen the financing companies to be interested in investing in sustainable solutions like EV.”

Aziz Arman
Co-Founder and CEO, Jatri

“Jatri is a transportation company which focuses on buses. The implementation plan of EV into our fleet is already in our discussion. After three years in business, we have seen that most of these buses are driven by fossil fuel, diesel, etc. EV in this sector can bring down the overall cost of transportation for both the owners and the users. Once the EV ecosystem is properly introduced it can also be implemented fast to decrease the overall vehicle cost across Bangladesh.”