Bangladesh is a development success story: economic growth has averaged 6% since 2003 and poverty halved between 1990 and 2010. Whilst economic growth has led to some development because of agricultural productivity, garment exports and remittances, Bangladesh still has 37 million people living in poverty, with 21 million of those living in extreme poverty. Bangladesh is also highly vulnerable to natural disasters such as floods and cyclones. Unstable politics and poor governance risk slowing things down, as do social problems like violence against women, early marriage and signs of rising extremism.

According to the Asian Development Bank, from 1990 to 2015, Bangladesh halved its incidence of poverty – meeting on of its core Millennium Development Goals – and gained lower-middle income status in 2015. The country’s economic growth has been robust over the past decade, and was almost double the global average in the fiscal year that end 30 June 2015. In 2015 the Government developed its Seventh Five Year Plan. The plan covers FY2016-2020 and aims for Bangladesh to reach middle-income status by 2021.

BERF Bangladesh Projects

  1. Evidence and Learning Note Gender and Business Environment/Investment Climate Reform in Bangladesh 
  2. What is Best Practice on Gender and Business Environment Reform?


World Bank Doing Business

While Bangladesh performs well on certain development indicators, efforts to improve the enabling environment for business has improved only slightly from 2017 to 2018. The World Bank’s Doing Business 2018 report ranked the country at 177 out of 190 countries in the ease of doing business, two one place down on 2017.  The Distance to Frontier score which stood at 40.84 percent in 2017, marginally improved to 40.99 in 2018, but is well below the regional average of 53.64.

Across certain indicators Bangladesh ranked among the lowest worldwide, in particular in ‘Getting Electricity’ (#185), ‘Enforcing Contracts’ (#189), and ‘Registering Property’ (#185). Contract Enforcement is considered to be the biggest constraint which is likely to deter investors, and or shorten the horizon over which they are prepared to invest.  Other challenges include the country’s high vulnerability to natural disasters and effects of climate change both of which pose a threat to development gains.  Widespread corruption is also problematic.


DFID Bangladesh Strategy

Ending extreme poverty and basic services: Over the last six years UK aid has helped 1.5 million Bangladeshis out of extreme poverty. Since 2015 DFID have helped over 900,000 boys and girls to gain a decent education, and helped 550,000 women to give birth safely. Over the next three years the UK will support 1.7 million more children to get a quality education; provide improved nutrition for 6.8 million women and children, and support 1.1 million women to use modern family planning. 2.3 million people will gain access to improved water and sanitation, and 1.5 million people will be helped to move out of extreme poverty and towards prosperity.

Economic development: The UK will provide skills training that will enable 100,000 people to get jobs; will work to reduce regulation and make it easier to do business; and support the creation of 50,000 formal jobs and £325 million of new private sector investment over the next three years.

Building stability and resilience to crises: The UK will continue to strengthen disaster preparedness and provide humanitarian support to 500,000 people and help 82,500 female garment workers access decent work conditions. The UK will help 130,845 female victims of violence to get support and rebuild their lives and 122,000 disabled people to access services. The UK will support 2 million people to get access to justice, on issues that keep them in poverty, building on the 13.9 million The UK has assisted since 2009.