SafeWheel: Saving lives on the move | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 08, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:10 AM, November 08, 2019

SafeWheel: Saving lives on the move

Founded in November 2018, SafeWheel carries the mission of providing affordable ambulances and on demand emergency medical services in rural areas of Bangladesh. Their plan is to turn local three wheelers into easily accessible ambulances, especially for underprivileged communities. Their tagline is “Moving Wheels, Saving Lives.”

Rafiq Islam (Chief Executive Officer), Faysal Islam (Chief of Business Development), Mazbahul Islam (Director of Marketing & Outreach), Anas H Makki, and Sadat Daniel are the core team members of SafeWheel.

SafeWheel’s journey initially started with the on-campus round of the prestigious Hult Prize competition. The Hult Prize is considered as the largest student entrepreneurship competition in the world, organised by the Hult Prize Foundation and sponsored by the Clinton Foundation.

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This year’s Hult Prize challenge was to build a startup that would create 10,000 jobs in the next decade. Rafiq, Faysal, and Mazbahul, students of the Marketing Department at Bangladesh University of Professionals (BUP), represented SafeWheel at Hult Prize 2019.

After successfully passing the initial round in Dhaka, they went to Shanghai for the regionals in July this year. They competed with 56 different teams from 30 countries in Shanghai. They were announced as the regional champions on July 23.

From Shanghai to the UN Headquarters, Team Safewheel had quite an interesting experience. After the regionals, as a prerequisite of the Hult Prize 2019 Accelerator Program, they ran a pilot project in Mohadevpur, Naogaon.

They participated in the programme at Ashridge Castle in London, from July 27 to August 31. 37 teams from 27 different regions joined the team in the programme. 

The Hult Prize 2019 Accelerator Program was one of the most challenging and exciting parts of their journey. During this time, they had to present their pitches in front of the judges every week. The judge panel included 15 Harvard business executives, along with other experts.

Hult created the ‘Founder’s Circle’ with the top 18 teams including SafeWheel after the third week.  SafeWheel became the champion team of the accelerator programme and was the first team to make it to the UN finals, after achieving a record number of votes in the history of Hult Prize, from the judges and from the audience.

Team SafeWheel joined the other top teams for the UN Finals at The United Nations headquarters in New York on September 14. Former US President Bill Clinton, along with other global influencers, were among the finale judges.

“The 11-minute final presentation at the UN, in front of some of the most brilliant people around the world was one of the best moments for us,” says Mazbahul. “Seeing BUP’s name among Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge and other top institutions, felt like a dream.” According to Faysal, Safewheel has already reached out to villages in Cumilla, Chandpur, Gazipur and Naogaon, and they still have a long way to go. Though Team Rutopia from Mexico won the final round, Team SafeWheel sets an excellent example for Bangladesh in a global platform.

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