The Obama Foundation recently announced that Shazeeb M Khairul Islam has to join their third cohort of Obama Scholars. Eleven rising leaders from around the world have been selected after a rigorous process to study at Columbia University for the 2020-2021 academic year, which will begin virtually. Shazeeb, the first Bangladeshi to be selected as an Obama Foundation Columbia University Scholar, is the Founder and Managing Director of YY Ventures, a company founded in Bangladesh to invest in social businesses that are moving towards a world of zero poverty, zero unemployment and zero carbon emission.
Before founding YY Ventures, Shazeeb led the establishment of Bangladesh's first independent social business incubator, YY Goshti, which has backed 36 social entrepreneurs since 2016, who have impacted the lives of more than 100,000 people. Previously, Shazeeb was the Founding Country Director of YGAP in Bangladesh, an innovative international development nonprofit, where he supported 30 social entrepreneurs. He has also worked as the Bangladesh Country Advisor at Give2Asia, a U.S. based non-profit, where he helped build and sustain innovative collaborations between philanthropic investors and vetted community-based organisations that are addressing the most pressing issues at the local level.
Given the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing safety precautions around the world, the Columbia Scholars programme will commence virtually for the Fall semester. Orientation is currently underway and online classes will begin in early September.
During the academic year, the new Columbia cohort will participate in a rigorous curriculum, designed by Columbia University in consultation with the Obama Foundation, which integrates academic, skill-based and experiential learning. The Scholars will gain real-world skills, tools and experiences, and develop an action plan that will enable them to scale their work and reinvest in their communities in their home regions.
The Scholars will also have the opportunity to contribute to Columbia World Projects, an initiative that mobilises the university's researchers and scholars to work with governments, organisations, businesses and communities to create tangible solutions to real-world issues.
The Obama Foundation's Scholars programme, which launched in 2018, is designed to inspire, empower, and connect emerging leaders with the tools they need to make their efforts more effective and impactful, upon their return home.