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Changemakers provide solutions to social entrepreneurship

Raiysa Zuwairiyah | Published: August 15, 2019 13:25:16 | Updated: August 21, 2019 23:12:57


Winners of the grand finale of Abinta's Young Change Leaders (AYCL) pose with dignitaries and organisers for a group photo

The grand finale of Abinta's Young Change Leaders (AYCL) was held at Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre in the city on August 03, 2019.

AYCL is a joint initiative by the Abinta Kabir Foundation and Casper Foundation. It was formed with the aim to give a platform to youth change-makers or social entrepreneurs to present their brilliant ideas that will positively impact not only themselves, but the people and environment around them. The theme for their pilot event was catered around the agent, Child, and the sector, Care.

The first round was an online submission of the business concept plan. The teams had a maximum of three members, aged 18 to 26 years old. The top twenty teams were then chosen for a 48-hour long hackathon at Abinta's Fine Arts Gallery.

The hackathon was held on August 01 and 02, where the teams were mentored by various coaches. "I have never met so many people furiously working towards bringing about a positive change under one roof. The two long days where more than 20 incredible coaches mentored us to develop our ideas and models were the feature that made this competition stand out the most among other similar events," commented a participant.

Zaiba Tahyya— CEO of Female Empowerment Movement (FEM), Fahim Uddin—CEO of Garbagemen and Niklas Friese — co-founder and chief operating officer of Digiland were among the coaches present at the hackathon. "This was one of the most surreal experiences of my entire life. I can hardly express my gratitude to the wonderful and seriously talented coaches, the organisers and the judges. After being horrified at the scary headlines surfacing my news feed every hour, meeting all these good people who are passionately working towards making the world a better place gave me hope for the future."

Ten teams were then chosen to pitch their ideas to the judges on the day of the grand finale. The presentations were three minutes long followed by a question and answer session of five minutes. Team Pikachu -- represented by Ashfaq Afnan, Fatema Tuz Zohra, and Proma Farah -- became the champions with their brilliant product idea called "Jotno". "Jotno" is an organic, reusable, biodegradable and highly affordable baby diaper for babies of mothers who are otherwise unable to afford diapers. The hackathon helped the team in smoothing the edges of their business model. "We came across some extremely talented mentors who helped us to furnish our idea. It was a great learning experience for all of the teams. We learnt about social problems, solutions and entrepreneurships. The hackathon sessions motivated us more than anything," remarked Proma Farah.

"Here we play", an initiative aimed at creating alternative playground space for primary school children who do not have the facilities, became the runner-up. Wizkit Narwhal took the second runner-up prize with their innovative technology-based idea meant to utilise robotics to tackle young girls' healthcare needs.

All three teams are ingenious in their endeavours. "Jotno" and "Here we play" will now proceed to continue working on their business models in a six-month long incubation. "Right now we are looking forward to the incubation. Once we successfully pass the incubation period and develop our business model, we will start setting up our business. We aim to serve the people in need and we want to do it properly. So, we will be entering the market with best possible product and service," said Team Pikachu about Jotno. They will have access to further grants and investments upon the development of a sustainable business model, post-incubation.

The success of the event truly commemorates the spirit of Abinta Kabir who died in the Holy Artisan attack with 21 other innocent people in 2016. This is just the first step to bring about the positive changes that she worked for in her unexpectedly short life. All of the ideas presented were truly inspirational. AYCL will aid in taking social entrepreneurship to new heights in benefiting the people and environment of Bangladesh.

Taufiq uz Zaman, CEO and founder of Casper Foundation: "Abinta Kabir Foundation and Casper Foundation have been devising this programme for months and have tried to implement a structured programme whereby youths are first inspired to take action and are then encouraged to address social problems faced by children in their community. More than anything else, we are not just thankful of the events as an outcome, but the youth and the ventures that have been showcased through AYCL. We cannot wait to see where things go from here."

Jawad Yusuf, financial analyst of Abinta Kabir Foundation, said, "The last six months have been a humbling experience and also an inspirational one. This is a story of empathy, of togetherness, of social change. The space has been dedicated to a young changemaker herself, Abinta Kabir, and her guiding principles have become our symbol for growth. We express our deepest gratitude to Abinta Kabir."

Special guests present at the grand finale were Kazi M Aminul Islam, executive chairman of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), and Farzana Chowdhury, managing director and CEO of Green Delta Insurance Company.

The writer is studying BBA at IBA, University of Dhaka. She can be reached at z.raiysa@gmail.com

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