The word ‘Entrepreneur’ has become such a craze in Bangladesh these days that the youth want to pursue entrepreneurship after their education or even while they are pursuing their degrees also. But due to lack of proper guidelines, lack of knowledge to find out the right business sector, very few or no connection with necessary investors etc. are key factors which create a great impediment to their dreams.
The youth are the main fuel of a nation. If a nation can utilize this fuel, 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 organization that brings together the best young entrepreneurial talents of the world, in a platform, for a five-month innovation program 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’s how the journey of YSI Bangladesh started, along with China and Singapore.
YSI Bangladesh started its journey in 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 program 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 megacities) will work to alleviate these problems and improve the living conditions of millions of people.
The application process began in January this year which created an enormous countrywide echo among the youth. Out of more than 500 applicants, only 21 were selected after going through several rounds of tough tests. These 21 talented, young minds were then divided into 5 teams according to the similarity in their fields of activities. The next 3 months, they went through an intense online innovation program, which has been designed to bring their ideas into MVP formats. During this time, they have learned about team formation, research works, market analysis, customer demands, prototype development and lots of other staffs so that they can sustain their entrepreneurial journey in the coming days.
After the online program, all of them were brought for a five-day-long campaign, where they went through intense workshops so that they can pitch their ideas in front of an investor with a full & final prototype of their product. Marcus Bruns (Chief Executive Officer, YSI), Mr. 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 organized at GP House on 12 July. On that day, in the office of White Board, the five teams presented their ideas & products in front of investors and guests. Sidsel Bleke, honorable Ambassador of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Bangladesh, was the chief guest of the program. Marcus Bruns (CEO of YSI) and Mahmud Hossain (Chief of Corporate Affairs Officer at Grameenphone) were the special guests of the glamorous event.
After the presentation, the judges announced the names of the 3 winning teams. The champion team was ‘Crude +’. They worked to produce crude oil from plastic waste. The team members are Mazadur Rahman Masum, Mahbuba Jannat, Sharmin Akter, Md. Sajjad Azim, Md.Rasidun Nawaz Shaown and Tilottoma Saha. The 1st runner-up team was ‘Beam’. They have developed a smartwatch to save women from sexual harassment. Md. Rohan Kamal, Rasib Afridi & Saurav Chowdhury were members of this team. The second runner up was acquired by team ‘Aqualine’. They worked to reuse fish wastes & thus reducing the amount of waste. The members of this team were Tanmoy Kumar Ghose, S. M. Imtiaz Bhuiyan & Md. Mozahidul Islam.
LEADSAS Ltd., EMK Center & YSI Bangla Ltd. were the sponsors of ‘Megapreneurs 2018’. White Board was the Innovation Enabler of this event. Norwegian Embassy, YSI, Bangladesh Science Society & Work for a Better Bangladesh Trust were also the partners of this promising arrangement.
Marcus Bruns said that “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 on 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.”
Suman Saha (Country Director, YSI Bangladesh) commented that “YSI Bangladesh started its journey just one year ago. Although we faced lots of difficulties, we’ve finally arranged our program & came up with five brilliant start-ups which will work in the future to ease the lives of this city dwellers. Pray for us and also stay beside us so that we can keep this pace & go forward to build a successful Bangladesh.”
Country Manager, YSI Bangladesh