A winners' ode to securing hygiene for children

Shanjida Hossain | Published: January 02, 2020 00:50:21 | Updated: January 09, 2020 00:44:04

Winners of RB Global Challenge 2019 —Team Who Dis from North South University— (left to right) Syed Towhid Bashar, Mahdi Mohammad Mehrab and Mohammad Tahsin Nawaz holding the champion trophy and the flag of Bangladesh

Reckitt Benckiser (RB) believes that every business has a responsibility towards the social framework it operates within. This year, in accordance with its 'Business with purpose' motto, RB hosted a business competition in which the competing groups were asked to construct ideas that would impact the society positively by addressing critical issues and bringing forward positive changes.

After winning the national round in Bangladesh, Team Who Dis, consisting of Syed Towhid Bashar, Mahdi Mohammad Mehrab and Mohammad Tahsin Nawaz from North South University, advanced to the global challenge where they conquered the ultimate title of RB global champions. The global round took place from December 04 to December 05 in Slough, London.

To know more about their interesting strategised project, Shanjida Hossain interviewed the winners regarding their experiences and learnings with RB Global Challenge 2019.

Question (Q): Can you please summarise your team's idea in both the national and international finale of RB?

Mahdi Mohammad Mehrab: The primary issue we identified was that there is a significant lack of hygiene practices and facilities in schools due to the fact that there is only one washroom for every 150 students in Bangladesh and 56 per cent of schools lack basic hygiene facilities. In order to tackle this problem, we came up with a biodegradable tiffin box 'Dettol Mate' made of bamboo fiber that has a sanitiser dispenser.

To open the tiffin box, a switch is placed underneath which needs to be pulled. This pull button has dual functionality. Upon pulling it, sanitiser is dispensed right then into the hands and simultaneously it also unlocks the automated tiffin box. This means that without using the sanitiser dispenser children cannot open the tiffin box.   Hence, it is essential to ensure hygiene right before they are about to have their meals. The Dettol sanitisers are placed inside a separate compartment in the form of refills which last for 15 to 20 days. Whenever the sanitiser refills are running low, a notification will be sent to the mother's smartphone using the Dettol Mate Application informing them and also allowing them to order refills in just one click from the e-commerce sites.

Q: What do you think set your team apart from the other teams?

Mahdi Mohammad Mehrab: Several key factors set us apart. Most importantly, our solution was the most feasible and relevant not only in the context of Bangladesh but also in the overall context of the south-east Asian region. Our idea was simple, yet very unique and effective in the real world. We made it scalable and purposeful. Moreover, we were the most well-prepared team in the global round in London. We built a well-designed content and backed it up with a smooth presentation that was praised by the judges.

Q: With the overwhelming flow of emotions, how was the grand finale like in the international stage?

Syed Towhid Bashar: Representing North South University and Bangladesh was something I always dreamt of. When I first entered Stokes Place, the finale venue, I could see Bangladesh's banner on the grandest of stages along with three of our names which made me extremely emotional. At the same time, there was this persistent wave of determination to take the flag way beyond by becoming the champions.

We were the first team to present and after three intense hours of presentations and question and answer sessions of all the finalist teams, there was still no clarity on who was taking this home. There were such high standards of content, presentation and execution. It was around 1:30 pm in London and the moment of truth was finally there. As the judges started to declare the name of the global winner, we all had our eyes closed seeking blessings from the Almighty. And guess what? Our prayers were answered. The judges crowned Bangladesh as the global champion of RB Global Challenge 2019. At that moment, I was personally engulfed with such mixed emotions. There were tears of joy, tears of hard work and tears of making the nation proud.

Q: How did your team prepare for the global round?

Syed Towhid Bashar: After winning the Bangladesh round, we had about 20 days to prepare for the global round. A large part of our preparation took place in the RB Bangladesh office where we were groomed and our content was perfected by the grooming team. We also personally sat down as a team and worked in bringing more finesse to how we were going to pitch our idea. After days of discussions, meetings, phone conferences and endless pitching, we were finally ready. Today, I can confidently say that we were the most well-prepared team among all the other participating ones and the result is evident of that.

Q: RB is one of the most prestigious business competitions of our country. Would you share your overall experience -- from the start till the end of the competition?

Tahsin Nawaz: The competition started with a challenging online simulation that had to be completed in a limited amount of time. Right from the get-go it required intense and quick thinking, because the cases that came with the simulation were quite tricky! Afterwards during ideation, carrying out actual research by looking at products, brands, talking to people- everything to come up with a simple but effective idea was truly a unique experience. The local final was quite nerve-wracking for us, because it was the first stage presentation. But with the experience on our belt, and a great trip to London afterwards, it paved the way for a good performance in what was a grand estate. It was an experience worth remembering.

Q: Would you tell us about the major takeaways from this competition?

Syed Towhid Bashar: We acquired networking, insights and words of wisdom. I will forever be indebted to RB Global Challenge 2019 for gifting me the goodwill of a lifetime.

Mahdi Mohammad Mehrab: This competition boosted my self-confidence immensely. I never believed I was good enough to compete in the global stage let alone emerge as the champions. But throughout this journey, my perception totally changed. Now I know that with the grace of the Almighty, I can reach any heights. And if I can, so can anyone reading this.

Tahsin Nawaz: What I realised is that people everywhere are the same. We had many things in common with the other participants and people of RB which helped build a sense of global unity. There were participants from nine countries in total, so it was a global bonding experience.

Q: What makes RB different from all the other business competitions of Bangladesh?

Tahsin Nawaz: The RB Global Challenge requires a whole different set of skills to succeed. This isn't simply a marketing competition where you pitch marketing ideas to judges. You come up with a product innovation that is unique, effective, and capable of doing well in the real world. And it is not merely a concept, you have to go deep into details regarding the execution and feasibility of your idea. What is better is that as national winners we were mentored by RB Bangladesh which was an immense learning experience for us all. And this was  followed by the global round where judges are global heads of brands of RB.

Having a mind-blowing idea, and delivering the pitch in a manner befitting a great idea is crucial for success. And that overall experience is what makes this competition different from any other.

The interviewer is a second year student of BBA programme at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), University of Dhaka. She can be reached at

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