Rourkela, a city in Odisha, India has won the prestigious ‘Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge’ with an 8 member team that includes two Bangladeshi youths.
Cities throughout the world face issues like food insecurity, unemployment, gender inequality, etc. The Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge calls the Mayors of the cities to fight these problems with innovative ideas. This competition is powered by John Hopkins University.
The projects serve one or more of four categories - economic recovery and inclusive growth, health and wellbeing, climate and environment, and gender and equality.
A team from each city introduces their idea to give their city a chance to rebuild with a more feasible solution to an existing issue. From 631 participating cities, 15 cities are declared as winners.
The Rourkela team was a mix of alumni and students of the National Institute of Technology, Rourkela. Out of eight members, two were Bangladeshi students - Sayed Fahim Ali and MD. Shakil Khan.
Fahim, a member of the winning team, talked about their innovative project to The Financial Express.
“We aimed to do something simple which would end up impacting business women's lives enormously.”
“We targeted the vegetable sellers who had to sell the unsold vegetables at a very low price at the end of the day. Because neither they can throw them, nor they can store them. We proposed establishing a solar cold storage solution at various city locations, which was to be managed and operated by women self-help groups,” explained Fahim.
The team had to gather field experience and mix in with the lives of street vendors. They sat with the vendors for hours to know how they transacted vegetables and their need for storage.
Connecting with different self-help groups, which consisted of women who run small businesses, sell or produce vegetables was a major part of this process. The team assisted to train them to operate the cold storage and the facility.
“Climate change solutions, women empowerment, social inclusion,” Fahim continued talking about his team’s goals, “our team thought that this idea had it all to create the difference.”
In order to materialize their promising idea, each city will receive USD 1 million along with technical support and coaching over three years to bear the torch of change in their city.