The Financial Express

Booming personal development industry in Bangladesh

| Updated: January 05, 2021 20:46:58

Booming personal development industry in Bangladesh

Tony Robbins, Jay Shetty, Tim Ferris, Stephen Covey, Robin Sharma, Ayman Sadiq – all these individuals are well-known in the ever-growing industry of personal development or self-improvement.

Their work revolves around influencing our universal need to have a sense of recognition, success and purpose. For this reason, their messages have a strong appeal to a broad group of people across age, gender, race and geography.

The personal development or self-help industry offers a very minimum barrier for anyone willing to make a career here as there is little industry or professional benchmark.

The cumulative client base of the industry -- which encompasses personal coaching or counselling, books, videos, workshops and other interactive tools, and creating limitless areas of expertise --  can potentially consist of the world’s 7.0 billion people.

India and US-based market research institution Grand View Research Inc says the size of the global personal development market is expected to reach US$56.66 billion by 2027.

One of the reasons behind the industry’s growth is having an increasing range of expertise to offer-- from relationship to parenting, from managing wealth to finding one’s purpose in life, and from creating a legacy of gaining a promotion. There is a self-help guru for every human aspiration.

We can take, for example, the case of Marie Kondo – a tidying expert who helps people manage their space and get rid of clutter. Her services can be seen as a very niche one. But there are many people, who fall victim to clutter and piles of unwanted stuff, find this as a useful service. After writing the best-selling book, ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’, she got her show on Netflix. Thus, she reached millions of people across the world. She also became one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Dale Carnegie should be a classic reference in self-help. His book ‘How to Make Friends and Influence People’ is a staple in any personal development guide and it is one of the most-read books of all time. The New York Times reported in 2011 that more than 30 million copies of the book were sold.

While the West has been familiar with the commercial aspects of personal development for a long time, the East is catching up fast. Asia Pacific region is expected to enjoy the fastest industry growth rate in between 2020 – 2027, says another report by Grand View. Bangladesh can confidently take a cue from the global trends of this growing industry.

As engagement with a self-development expert is a personal choice, the income level of an individual plays a vital role in investing in personal growth. Bangladesh’s entrepreneurs or individuals looking into capitalising on this trend can take advantage of the country’s growing income level.

Growing income means more people would explore avenues of spending after meeting basic needs. While shopping, dining and travelling takes precedence, an increasing number of people want to harness the power of self-development or soft skill development that will be necessary to survive professionally in the post-COVID-19 era.

COVID-19 pandemic has radically shifted the mechanism work and created a demand for adaptability and diverse skills. A recent study by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) shows that the number of job postings on leading job portals in Bangladesh dropped by 87 per cent in April this year compared to the same month of the previous year.

Another research, conducted by Access to Information (a2i), reveals that over 20 million workers are currently unemployed across 11 high-impact economic sectors of the country.

In the post-COVID period, the world would require individuals equipped with the skills and perception of changed situations to break the barriers of comfort zones. The self-development industry can be the most accessible and economically viable source of on-boarding.

The good news is that Bangladesh is not far behind the crowd. Alongside many individuals, some start-ups are doing major work to establish a strong position in the local self-development industry.

‘10 Minute School’ can be called a pioneer in the industry that gives access to educational materials to over 1.5 million students. Since its humble beginning, the platform has enriched and broadened its curriculum.

Emerging Bangladeshi startups like Bohubrihi is developing their unique take on personal development through in-person and virtual courses. Courses like Machine Learning or Emotional Intelligence, which were previously available to corporate diaspora, are now reaching the masses. A key success factor of these startups is their ability to find capable local instructors and offer courses in Bangla.

On the individual level, the industry offers a tremendous opportunity to anyone who wants to share knowledge and positively impact people’s lives. The downside of this industry is the time it takes to build trust, which sometimes might lead to unhealthy attention-seeking competition.

Credibility is the key to success in this industry. Potential gurus or coaches should identify an area of personal interest and actively find a way to share their knowledge and expertise. 

“You don’t have to live anywhere other than the places you are to start connecting with the world you want to be in,” said Austin Kleon in his book ‘How to Steal Like an Artist.’ In today’s ultra-connected world, one just needs the interest and willpower to engage or invest in self-help. Therein the power of the personal-development industry lies.   


Saifur Rahman works at a multinational company.

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