The word 'entrepreneur' has become such a craze in Bangladesh nowadays that many young people want to be an entrepreneur after finishing their education or even while they are pursuing their degrees. Lack of proper guidelines, poor knowledge to find out the right business sector and little connection with key investors become barriers to their dreams.
Youths are the main driving force of a nation. If a nation can utilise this force, then she is sure to have a journey towards becoming a great nation, no matter how difficult the road is. On the other hand, if a nation fails to do so, then her dreams to rise above all will perish like a bubble.
With a view to solving different challenges towards a sustainable society, Young Sustainable Impact (YSI) started its journey in 2016.
YSI is an international organisation that brings together the best young entrepreneurial talents of the world, in a platform, for a five-month innovation programme to find out solutions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
‘Empowering youth to solve sustainability challenges by creating measurable impact’- this is their main motto. With this view in mind, they wanted to spread this air of change around the whole world. That is how the journey of YSI Bangladesh started, along with China and Singapore.
YSI Bangladesh started its journey from September, 2017, with the main view to finding out her best talented young entrepreneurial minds to solve different issues of this country related to SDGs. This year they started their journey by initiating an incubation programme named 'Megapreneurs 2018'. Traffic jam, lack of clean drinking water, improper waste management, water blockage etc. are some of the problems that we regularly face in this mega city. Megapreneurs—entrepreneurs who deal with problems of mega cities—will work to alleviate these problems and improve living conditions of millions of people.
The application process began in January this year. Out of more than 500 applicants, only 21 were selected after going through several rounds of tough tests. These 21 talented and young minds were then divided into five teams according to similarity in their fields of activities.
The next three months they went through an intense online innovation programme. This was designed to bring their ideas into MVP formats.
During this time, they learnt about team formation, research works, market analysis, customer demands, prototype development etc. so that they can sustain their entrepreneurial journey in the coming days.
After the online programme, all of them were brought for a five day-long campaign, where they went through intense workshops so that they could pitch their ideas in front of investors with a full and final prototype of their product. Marcus Bruns (chief executive officer, YSI), Didrik Aleksander (chief operating officer, YSI) and Danat Tekie (external relations officer, YSI) also flew from Oslo to help the five teams with their best effort.
All these training sessions came to an end with the Demo Day that was organised at GP House on July 12. On that day, in the office of White Board, the five teams presented their ideas and products in front of investors and guests. Sidsel Bleke, ambassador of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Bangladesh, was the chief guest of the programme. Marcus Bruns (CEO of YSI) and Mahmud Hossain (chief of corporate affairs officer at Grameenphone) were the special guests of the event.
After the presentation, the judges announced the names of the three winner teams. The champion team was 'Crude+'. They worked to produce crude oil from plastic waste. The team members were Mazadur Rahman Masum, Mahbuba Jannat, Sharmin Akter, Md Sajjad Azim, Md Rasidun Nawaz Shaown and Tilottoma Saha. The first runner up-team was 'Beam'. They developed a smart watch to save women from sexual harassment. Md Rohan Kamal, Rasib Afridi and Saurav Chowdhury were members of this team. Team Aqualine became second runner-up. They worked to reuse fish wastes and thus reducing the amount of waste. The members of this team were Tanmoy Kumar Ghose, SM Imtiaz Bhuiyan and Md Mozahidul Islam.
Marcus Bruns said, "The startup ideas that came out of the 2018 Megapreneurs were way above what I had expected. Ideas ranged from making fuel from plastic to making fish feed from fish waste. There is no way that Megapreneurs 2018 in Dhaka would have happened without the YSI Bangladesh team with Suman Saha in the front. It is very inspiring to see how far they have gotten in only one year, and really impressive to see that they have been able to build an impact startup of their own next to running YSI Bangladesh - the startup is an online learning platform called YSI Bangla Limited."
Country Director of YSI Bangladesh Suman Sah commented, "YSI Bangladesh started its journey just one year ago. Although we faced lots of difficulties, we've finally arranged our programme and came up with five brilliant start-ups which will work in future to ease the lives of this city dwellers."
Leadsas Limited, EMK Center and YSI Bangla Limited were the sponsors of Megapreneurs 2018. White Board was the innovation enabler of this event. Norwegian Embassy, YSI, Bangladesh Science Society and Work for a Better Bangladesh Trust were also the partners of this arrangement.
The writer is Country Manager of YSI Bangladesh, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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