Ashoka Innovators for the Public Youth Venture recently selected its cohort of young social innovators between the ages of 12-20 from across Bangladesh as role models for youth.
Youth Venture aims at transforming youth culture across the country by enabling teenagers to lead change. The programme aims to address the gaps that countless children face while growing up face—a lack of the critical and indispensable skills of empathy, creative problem solving, distributed leadership, and team building—which not only has direct implications on the young people entering job market, but also achievement of the Sustainable Developments Goals. This initiative aims to address the fact that 45 million people in Bangladesh, almost one-third of the population, still live in poverty.
What is missing is a clear strategy and execution plan that holistically addresses the entire ecosystem at once. These young minds need a proper platform to take Bangladesh's new-found love for start-ups and social businesses further. Ashoka Youth Venture shares the vision of an “Everyone a Changemaker” world: a world that responds quickly and effectively to social challenges and each individual has the freedom, confidence, and social support to drive positive change. Ashoka, therefore, believes that “Great entrepreneurs begin in their teens.”
Out of 40 applications, 22 were short-listed to pitch their ideas in front of the panel. The selection process took place over August 18 and 19, in the presence of an eminent jury comprising industry leaders, such as Chowdhury, Ashoka Fellow and Co-founder of Drinkwell; Debra Efroymson, Director of Health Bridge; Dinesh Perrera, Advisor of Proticus; Tareen Hossain, Executive Editor of The Daily Ittefaq; and Nawshin Khair, Managing and Creative Director of Aranya.
11 teen innovators, who demonstrated their leadership potential and aspiration to become change representatives for their society, were finally selected as Youth Venturers. These youngsters are working on a diverse range of projects, such as creating a platform for special needs children to acquire tech skills; making a system for the visually impaired to use the web; helping fellow teens overcome the hurdles of life through a website and advisors; helping the urban crowd to have a better lifestyle; educating children who live in slums; working for the rights of women and ending child marriage; and teaching English in the tourist destinations of Bangladesh.
In the coming months, Ashoka will host workshops and co-creation sessions with veteran social entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and industry experts to teach the youngsters about the micro and macro aspects of running and scaling their social venture in a collaborative environment, and how to influence the systems around them to create more changemakers.