Tuesday, October 17, 2017

I wanted to do something new and challenging: Shohoz.com founder Maliha Quadir

  • Nurul Islam Hasib, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2017-03-18 20:14:27 BdST

bdnews24

Passion for doing something new for public benefit has driven her to start Bangladesh’s first online travel ticket purchasing platform Shohoz.com, founder Maliha M Quadir has said after being recognised a young global leader by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The Swiss non-profit foundation, known for its annual meeting in Davos, named her one of the 100 Young Global Leaders of 2017 on Mar 15.

Announcing her name, the WEF said she is a “businesswoman and a technology entrepreneur whose startup has done breakthrough work in digitising the transportation industry in Bangladesh”.

A Harvard MBA, Maliha is the founding managing director of Shohoz.com that she started back in 2014, opening a new era of booking bus tickets in Bangladesh in the comfort of home or office.

“I wanted to do something new and challenging,” she told bdnews24.com when asked why she has chosen to start this company.

She earlier worked in senior positions with different global organisations including Vistaprint, Nokia Mobile Phones, Standard Chartered Bank, Morgan Stanley in M&A in Nyc and Sfran, and also with the Brac as BRACNet Limited’s Head of the web portal.

“E-commerce is my area, and there is a scope of creativity. And I wanted to do something for the mass people, to take the service to the mass level,” she said. “Then I thought that people travel every day, every week. And it can be an area of my work".

The WEF each year selects 100 young leaders, under the age of 40, who are tackling the world’s “most complex challenges with innovative approaches”.

Among the current and former Young Global Leaders are heads of government and Fortune 500 companies, winners of Olympic medals and Academy Awards, and “people who have overcome towering adversity to change the world we live in positively”.

Selected into a five-year programme, this year’s class of Leaders is split evenly between business and not-for-profit sectors – building a global community of peers who can capitalise on diverse talents, experiences and networks to bridge divides that exist in society and achieve more together than they could separately, the WEF said.

“They will join an established community – the Forum of Young Global Leaders – which is made up of leaders from all walks of life, every region of the world and stakeholder group in society who operate as a force for good to overcome barriers that stand in the way of progress.”

Maliha said she was very happy to be recognised by this “unbiased” organisation.

“It’s a ‘big deal’ to be recognised as a technology entrepreneur from Bangladeshi entrepreneurs,” she said, “this is also a significant recognition for the transportation industry…world comes to know that this type of transformation is taking place here in Bangladesh”.

So far, her platform could take 40 bus companies and few launches onboard to sell tickets online. Apart from that, they also sell movie tickets and sometimes for cricket matches.

“It takes a lot of effort to take a company onboard. We have to make them understand about it, at times have to provide computer and also train them how to operate a computer,” she said while sharing the challenging of this new business in Bangladesh.

“It takes a lot of time because they are used to work with papers. And only now we are telling them about the digitisation,” she said, adding that they were also raising awareness among the public so that they take the benefit.

“We are getting good responses, and every day it's increasing. People are showing the positive response, but they don’t know how to do it. We are also raising awareness for that,” she said.

They have also planned to expand the service as much as possible mainly bringing all the river vessels under the platform. “Future is good, but it’ll take time”.