Bangladesh Youth Environmental Initiative (BYEI), a youth-led environmental non-profit, holds the Grand Finale of the Accelerating Green Innovation for Youth Entrepreneurship (AGIYE) in the city today at Hotel Bengal Blueberry in Gulshan 2.
AGIYE is part of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) supported Green Skills Program (GSP) of BYEI under the ‘Empowering Youth for Green Transition’ project. GSP is a skills and entrepreneurship development program to support marginalised youth in the coastal communities to champion green innovation to tackle the triple planetary crisis of climate, biodiversity, and pollution. GSP is designed to nurture the skills and capacity of the youth in the coastal communities to generate sustainable livelihoods to build climate resilience in the communities. This year, Bangladesh Technical Education Board (BTEB) was the implementing partner.
Five top ideas were selected from the marginalised and unemployed youth in Khulna, Barishal and Satkhira. Ratul Hasan and Tahidul Islam’s team ‘Nature Plug’ from Khulna has won the Champion Prize of cash grant of BDT 150,000 with the idea of making a cost-effective electric inverter from electrical waste.
Team ‘Luminous Bangladesh’ consisting of Sakhawat Akhtar Hossain and Md. Sabbir Hossain’s from Barisal won the second prize for their idea of producing low-cost LED lights. The third prize was won by Tanvir Hasan and Imran Hossain’s team Red Gold, with the idea of high-nutrient beetle larvae breeding initiative as a poultry feed from Satkhira. The second and third place entrepreneurs received financial grants of BDT 100,00 and BDT 75,000 respectively to implement their ideas and turn them into businesses to contribute to the circular economy of Bangladesh.
Dr. Md. Alfaz Hossain, Additional Secretary of the GoB, Professor Md Mamun Ul Hoque, Director at the BTEB, and Peter Bellen, Chief Technical Adviser (CTA) of ProGRESS project at ILO Bangladesh handed the awards to the innovative grantees to pilot their innovative ideas. All the winners of the AGIYE will be incubated for six months by their respective Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutes and by Future Startup.
Bijon Islam, CEO of Light Castle Partners, Waseem Khan, Head of Research, EDGE Research and Consulting, ANM Tanzil Ahsan, Program Officer of ‘PROGRESS’ project conducted by ILO Bangladesh and Sadia Hossain, Chief Operating Officer of YY Ventures were part of the judging team.
Syed Muntasir Ridwan, The Co-Executive Director of BYEI, has shared that AGIYE needs to be mainstreamed in all the polytechnic institutions so that the youth at the grassroots learn both the hands-on skills and translate their skills on green entrepreneurship opportunities. He also highlighted that there is immense potential among the marginalised youth, and they can transform the grassroots economy and the ecological imbalance through their hard work, dedication and innovation, but we need an ecosystem to support them.
Dr. Md Alfaz Hossain shared that Bangladesh faces an acute unemployment crisis among the youth at a time when the economy is shrinking globally. On top of that, climate change is threatening many nature-sensitive professions, such as farming, fishing, etc. I am optimistic that our youth can solve this crisis through their innovation and grit.
Professor Md Mamun Ul Hoque shared that the skilled workforce that the GSP created by training students on solar electrical systems and promoting entrepreneurship through the AGIYE initiative will go a long way to support the just and green transition in Bangladesh.
Ruby Rebecca Areng, Partnership Coordinator of Norwegian Refugee Council, Mohammad Mahmudul Hasan, Manager, Resilience and Climate Justice Division of ActionAid Bangladesh, Mahfuzur Rahman, Country Director of Pure Earth Bangladesh, and others were also present on the occasion.