3 startups win awards at Youth Co:Lab for innovative environmental solutions

Photo: Courtesy of UNDP Bangladesh

Three promising youth-led pro-environment startups received USD 10,000 in grants and mentorship in the fourth edition of Youth Co:Lab Bangladesh's Springboard Programme, co-created by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Citi Foundation.

Safepad Bangladesh, which works to produce environmentally friendly and safe sanitary products, received USD 5,000. Borac Energia, which produces recycled Li-Ion batteries, came in second to win USD 3,000. Pcycle, which works to build a waste-management ecosystem, won USD 2,000.

"This is the platform where our young innovators are addressing problems of the current world as well as the future," State Minister for ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak said at the event.

"It pleases me immensely to see your innovations in the digital and technological sphere. In you, I see the job creators of the future and the problem solvers of digital Bangladesh. I leave you with one advice that our Honorable Prime Minister told me: If you want to go far, innovate together."

The ten finalists, who pitched their ideas at the Grand Pitch Day held at The Westin Dhaka on December 19, 2021, also included Deshifarmer, Max TapWater, MILE, Protibha, Psycure Organization, TransEnd, and Recycle Jar Ecosystem.

Selected from 55 applicants, the ten startups attended a two-day boot camp before the event.

"We are confident that the impact enterprises here are going to be among the first to usher in the green economy for Bangladesh," Van Nguyen, Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP Bangladesh, said.

"We need to support more ventures which are coming up with innovative and low-carbon solutions for a greener Bangladesh." She also emphasized UNDP's commitment to continue supporting innovative business models driving improved productivity, competitiveness, resilience and sustainability of enterprises and jobs.

The Youth Co:Lab Springboard Programme is an incubation platform for young SDG entrepreneurs to turn innovative SDG solutions into sustainable businesses.

The initiative has already supported 30 Bangladeshi youth-led impact enterprises. For its fourth edition, the programme has gone beyond the usual and provided prize money to the winners in addition to mentorship and networking support.

Shams Zaman, Director and Head, Bangladesh Banking, Capital Markets and Advisory, Citi, remarked, "Youth Co:Lab is a very important platform that adheres to Citi's ideology of supporting entrepreneurship, including enterprises led by Bangladeshi youth."

He encouraged the young entrepreneurs saying, "As we celebrate our 50th year of independence, it gives me immense pride to see the innovation and versatility of our young entrepreneurs. Keep coming up with innovative ideas and keep hunting for ways to promote yourself."

The panel of judges included Christabel Randolph, Director, Legal and Corporate Affairs, Marico Bangladesh; Shams Zaman, Director and Head, Bangladesh Banking, Capital Markets and Advisory, Citi;  Radwan Mujib Siddiq, Strategic Advisor, UNDP Bangladesh; and  Abul Kalam Azad, Special Envoy, Climate Vulnerable Forum Presidency of Bangladesh, Former Principal Secretary, and Principal Coordinator of SDGs, Prime Minister's Office.

The event was moderated by Mahmudul Hasan, Youth Coordinator, UNDP Bangladesh.


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