The rise of Bangladesh’s self-help industry

The self-help industry is a multibillion-dollar sector globally and is expected to be the fastest-growing industry in the world by 2027.

K Tanzeel Zaman

K Tanzeel Zaman

The Daily Star


February 16, 2023

DHAKA – We were taught from an early age to excel academically, focus on getting good grades, and ace all of our exams. In schools and colleges, learning has always been more focused on academic courses, but what about self-improvement and personal development, which are equally crucial in people’s lives? Bangladesh as a nation has very recently realised the importance of self-help and what role it plays in our personal growth and the development of the economy.

Recognising and developing one or more areas of your life for self-improvement requires intentional effort. From the perspective of an entrepreneur, self-growth often comprises mental training, which may also include everything from stress management to goal-setting. Professionals usually have a great desire to enhance their time-management abilities to prioritise their jobs better and discover strategies to increase productivity without losing their mental health.

Take Alvee Rahman as an example. Once a fresh graduate, Rahman was very enthusiastic when he joined his first job. But after the first couple of months, he realised he was having a hard time coping with the corporate world and became demotivated to keep going.

“There was a point when going to work started feeling like a punishment. I started to think the corporate world isn’t for me,” Alvee shared, expressing his frustration.

A book suggestion from a friend changed everything for him.

“When a close friend of mine introduced me to The Discomfort Zone by Farrah Storr, everything took a dramatic turn for me. Reading that book made me realise where my lacking was and helped me work on my shortcomings. Now three years later, as an Assistant Manager, I am thriving in my career,” said Alvee.

So, why is there such a sudden interest in self-help books and specialists among Bangladeshis? — one might wonder.

The curiosity was not entirely unexpected. It may be challenging to stay motivated and keep moving forward with time as our lives become more and more chaotic by the minute. And the appeal of this genre is also heavily influenced by generation. According to a Market Watch poll, millennials spend a considerable portion of their money on self-improvement activities such as working out, life counselling, and well-being applications.

In the past, people used to be content with settling for less. We no longer want to be constrained by our surroundings now that the times have changed. We want to flourish and achieve whatever we can. This is the attitude that self-improvement gurus have used.

Lifestyle inflation has also played a crucial influence on the growth of this business in the country. As people earn more money, they have more options for how to spend it. More consumers would consider spending possibilities as their money rose after meeting their basic demands. An increasing number of individuals want to harness the potential of self-improvement or soft skill development, which will be essential for professional success in the post COVID-19 era, when shopping, dining, and travelling take prevalence.

The self-help industry is a multibillion-dollar sector globally. This is expected to be the fastest-growing industry in the world by 2027. People have recognised that encouraging themselves to achieve their full potential can be difficult. One element driving the industry’s growth is the broad range of skills it can impart, from relationships to parenting and money management to identifying one’s life’s purpose, legacy building, and job progression. A self-help specialist supports every human desire.

Experts like Ghulam Sumdany Don, Solaiman Shukhon, and the youngest but most prominent of the lot, Ayman Sadiq, currently dominate Bangladesh’s motivational business. The fascinating element of these three people is that they are all experts in distinct areas of self-development.

Ghulam Sumdany Don is a well-known corporate trainer who works directly with large corporations to assist their staff in attaining their maximum potential by strengthening their soft skills.

“If you are not brushing your soft skills then you are not just hampering your growth in life, you are going backwards and will never be able to make an economically sound life for yourself,” said Don, explaining the need for soft skill training in Bangladesh.

Solaiman Shukhon, on the other hand, is a financial management expert who helps individuals make sound financial decisions.

Having the opportunity to work with different age groups, he has a fresh perspective regarding the youth and how lack of motivation is driving young talents out of the country.

“Globalisation is making the world smaller. In this era of Google, the business process and employment opportunities are changing. Everyone can see where the opportunities are waiting for them and how to take the opportunity. When they see a better life waiting in the other parts of the world, they become more practical than patriotic to take a decision,” states Sulaiman.

And Ayman Sadiq’s work is mainly aimed at the younger generation, who want to make the most of their abilities.

Remembering some of his initial days, he shared, “It was very difficult. I had probably gone through some of the most difficult days of my life. I would frequently lie on the carpet after filming a video and reflect on my life choices. It was a tough decision and involved a major trade-off.”

Individuals like them had a difficult path. It required some time to persuade individuals that there is an urgent need for motivation among the people of Bangladesh. Initially, they had to reintroduce this notion to remove any negative connotation that the term “self-help” would have. They persisted though, and are now assisting individuals in many aspects of their lives.

No matter the definition, the notion of self-motivation or self-improvement is deeply ingrained in the individual’s mental process. This is a notion that the individual seeking assistance must grasp. No one else can persuade someone to make the most of their time on Earth. Individually, the sector presents an excellent chance for anybody who wants to impart knowledge and make a big difference in people’s lives.

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