After a month of submissions and selection, three ideas were awarded yesterday in "Young People Igniting Transformation - Youth Innovation Challenge 2020", an ideation competition jointly organised by ActionAid Bangladesh and The Daily Star.
Sakib Nasir Serniabath, a student of Dhaka University (DU), developed the community-based organisation Circular to positively change people's behaviour and practices regarding waste management and plastic consumption.
Anindita Atoshi and Orobi Bakhtiar, students of DU's Institute of Business Administration, formed the organisation Prarombho to train transgender people in making readymade garments, and provide basic education and healthcare, so they can start small to medium sized businesses of their own.
Md Momin Sarkar, a student of Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University, launched e-Krishi Clinic, a digital platform that raises awareness about crop disease and management, and provides all kinds of agricultural services.
The competition was launched in October, and over roughly a month, youths all over the country submitted 170 ideas to reshape society in three broad categories: leadership, policy and practices; public service and Covid-19 response; and skill development and employment.
Yesterday, ActionAid Bangladesh and The Daily Star hosted a webinar on "Bangladeshi youth igniting transformation – today's innovation, tomorrow's revolution", to select the best ideas among the submissions.
In the last month, organisers started selecting top five ideas to be presented before judges through the webinar, where many social leaders, entrepreneurs, academicians and business personalities participated.
They advised the innovators and discussed the importance of youth-led innovation to transform Bangladesh's economy and social fabric.
Through a meticulous judging process, Circular, Prarombho and e-Krishi Clinic were declared champion, runner-up and second runner-up, respectively.
The champion will get prize money of Tk 20,000. The runner-up and second runner-up will get Tk 15,000 and Tk 10,000, respectively, and certificates as recognitions of their achievement.
Sakib, who developed the idea of Circular, said, "Waste pickers are some of the most neglected and marginalised people of our society. However, they are the warriors who deal with all types of waste. They need support in terms of awareness, capacity building and protective gear. We also want to inform common people who are producing waste and disposing irresponsibly."
Orobi, co-founder of Prarombho, said, "Transgender people have already formed smaller organisations thanks to various charitable initiatives. We want to unite these organisations to train them for SMEs, provide basic education and healthcare, and help them get rehabilitated into society through employment."
Momin, who is responsible for e-Krishi Clinic, said, "Every year, diseases damage crops and other agricultural products worth crores of taka. Our farmers must walk miles to get advice from agricultural offices. This platform will deliver all kinds of agricultural information and services virtually to our farmers."
Speakers at the webinar also provided important tips and promised support to the young innovators to materialise their ideas.
Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem, research director of Centre for Policy Dialogue, said, "Financing is a big issue to materialise these ideas. We need to determine how these young innovators can get necessary funding, maybe commercially or through venture capital or any form of international collaboration."
Prof Atiur Rahman of DU said, "I am really impressed by these ideas, because all of them are extremely related to our daily life and social realities. Our youths should ensure that they are working hard for their ideas in a focused manner. If they do so, I believe many banks and financing institutions will be happy to support their initiatives."
Lawmaker Nahim Razzaq said, "I appeal to corporate sectors to support these amazing ideas by delivering mentorship, capacity building and financial assistance. We policymakers will provide all kinds of help they may need from our end."
In her concluding remarks, Farah Kabir, country director of ActionAid Bangladesh, said, "We will try to ensure that the participants will continuously get support from the public and private sector. I request policymakers and government representatives to ensure support for research and innovation by mentioning these issues during planning of annual budget or five-year plan."