“I believe in direct economic gain resulting in GDP. I believe in local product development and disseminating global concepts. I believe in and work for social good, and mostly in the for–profit model.” Samira Zuberi Himika
Life is a race with its experiences and triumphs. We are runners at junctures -- hopping, falling, slanting but not allowed to stop until it's over. The reward is within the race where we grow, change and attain a shape that we can call “identity”. On the racetrack of life, youth is a period of transition; from the dependence of childhood to independence in our adulthood. It's the taste of freedom and the final rush of letting go all adjuncts to become an individual entity. For thousands of years the race of life has been carved in patterns of learning, earning and spending. We acquire education, deliver through employment or entrepreneurship, ensure that necessities are met and further achieve comfort or luxuries. We often follow the route of our predecessors for a smooth run but not all of us are same. There are those few who are ahead, who don't follow patterns; the rule-breakers, the trendsetters with strong foresight driven by dreams and quests. They are the frontrunners.
Our featured frontrunner this week is Samira Zuberi Himika, “Dreamer” (founder and managing director) of Team Engine, a campaign and communication hub for social welfare. As a campaigner of cultural diversity and business innovations for the bottom billions, Himika believes in one identity: “entrepreneurship with activism”, which is in direct relation to her vision.
Brought up in a family where she saw her father leaving a comfortable job for the Grameen Bank project (before it started off as a bank it was a pilot project by Professor Yunus, back in 1979-80), Himika has been actively involved in the development sector. Her extensive work -- in campaigns, project management, brand innovation, advertisement, marketing and communications -- with BBC World Service Trust, UNDP and local NGOs have been great experiences. In 2009, projects like GP House Profiling (a conceptual art hub) and Ajo (a casual and laid-back restaurant) were conceptualised and managed by Himika as a consultant. These experiences inspired her to set up her own social enterprise, Team Engine, which happened the following year. With a very dynamic team and fuelled by creative ideas, Team Engine is a for-profit organisation that aims to work for social good and humanity. Embarking on a journey to revolutionise the concept of social empowerment, the team's current objective is to run initiatives that are unique, impactful and challenging.
ALCHEMY, a nationwide healthy-living campaign, is an initiative by Team Engine under which, more than 24,000 participants (13 to 30 year olds from schools, colleges, universities and corporate houses) have been trained by public health experts, doctors, councillors and communication experts in healthy living by utilising information and taking preventive measures. The team (with trainings, workshops, resources, and membership programmes) is currently working in Dhaka, Chittagong and other divisions for the next year.
Another remarkable initiative is called ANCESTOR, which is about digitally archiving and disseminating information on ancient and contemporary cultural and historical works. The team has digitally archived more than 85,000 books, scripts and images with an objective to collect historical information and facts covering 4,000 years of Bengal and sharing content from other culturally vibrant parts of the world.
Team Engine has also recently (July 5, 6) held a major event called National Entrepreneur Summit (NES) 2013 at Osmani Smriti Milonayoton in Dhaka. It is an annual flagship event for networking and a hub for talented young entrepreneurs, corporate and SME professionals. The slogan of the event was: “Rise for GDP Growth” (www.riseforgdp.com). This initiative is just the start of a dynamic road to entrepreneurship and has support from the Ministry of Finance and several partners and sponsors for economic development.
Himika is well on her way to attaining milestones in her professional journey. She is an entrepreneur and a humanitarian. She feels truly independent -- enjoying liberty of will and solvency through her work. That's the real spirit of youth.
Umama Nowrose Ittela is a communication specialist, marketeer and a development worker. She is also a passionate dancer, history enthusiast, travel maniac, movie buff, avid reader-writer and a believer of fate.