Covid-19 has brought the world to a screeching halt in roughly four months. Its crippling effect has touched on every aspect of people's lives. Bangladesh and UNDP have been actively working with the government on mitigating the impacts of Covid-19.
Sustainable youth-led startups and social enterprises developed through Youth Co:Lab, a common platform for young entrepreneurs co-founded by UNDP and Citi Foundation have been working in Bangladesh since 2018. They have repurposed their operations to help Bangladesh fight the crisis.
We take a look at some of these Youth Co:Lab supported initiatives.
The social enterprise propped up by the Youth Co:Lab platform, Moner Bondhu is a platform to provide care for mental health and well-being service with a dynamic and skilled team of counsellors and experts from Bangladesh.
Moner Bondhu is currently providing free 24/7 tele-counselling and video-counselling to help people handle the mental stress caused by Covid-19. Anyone can seek free counselling by calling the hotline number +8801776632344 or by contacting their Facebook page.
BD Assistant is active in Rangpur district (North Bengal) as a Peer to Peer (P2P) service marketplace for daily maintenance services such as appliance repair, renovations, handyman services etc. for households and offices. But when they saw that in Covid-19 crisis people need more support such as delivery of daily groceries and medicine, the enterprise started assisting people quarantined at home with a new service line delivering farm fresh groceries collected from farmers, as well as medicine right to their doorsteps.
PeaceMaker Studio has been working to create awareness and spread information before the Covid-19 crisis. During the crisis it has now repurposed its mission to also battling misinformation, which according to the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres is "ïnfodemic." They have produced and published visual content on preventing fake news and awareness building, safety measure from Covid-19 promoted through individual interviews and proper hand washing techniques. To date, their content has reached more than 60,000 people.
iFarmer is an impact tech start-up that has developed an innovative online platform for any Bangladeshi to easily invest in farming and livestock.
The initiative has also started a Business to Business (B2B) vegetable supply to the e-commerce platforms based in Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital, so that the farmer families can sell their produce at a fair price.
"It took iFarmer.asia five days to design a supply chain mechanism to procure vegetables from the farmers," said Fahad Ifaz, CEO of iFarmer.
"We worked for only a couple of days for PriyoShop.com to adopt fresh veggies and groceries into their platform for customers and a LinkedIn message and couple of calls for Truck Lagbe to get on board, who gave amazingly quick and cost-efficient support to bring farm produce from the north of the country to Dhaka," he added.
Shuttle, another start-up supported by UNDP Youth Co:Lab, provides safe, comfortable and affordable transportation for women in Dhaka.
Following the crisis, they have expanded their operations to provide safe and secure transport support to people who provide essential services and need to attend office during the lockdown situation in Dhaka and Chattogram. All the vehicles are especially sanitized for the passengers, carry sanitization kits and first aid as necessary.
These are just the tip of the iceberg of innovative ways to fight Covid-19. UNDP Bangladesh hopes that this inspired a wave of fresh ideas which will set the trend for the rest of the region.