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Venue: Hotel Bengal Canary Park

The Grand Finale of the Accelerating Green Innovation through Youth Entrepreneurship (AGIYE 2.0) programme took place on March 7, 2024, at Hotel Bengal Canary Park, organised by Bangladesh Youth Environmental Initiative (BYEI), a youth-led environmental non-profit, in partnership with ActionAid Bangladesh and funding support from the British Council. 

AGIYE is part of BYEI’s Green Skills and Entrepreneurship (GSEP) programme, which supports the skills and entrepreneurship development of youth. AGIYE seeks to nurture the skills and capacity of the youth to generate sustainable livelihoods and build resilience in climate-vulnerable communities.

135 green business ideas were received for AGIYE 2.0 through an open call, out of which 20 promising entrepreneurs were selected to participate in the Green Entrepreneurship Bootcamp (GEB) held in Khulna from February 9–12. GEB empowered participants to refine their green business ideas by providing them with in-depth training and skill development across various areas, including marketing, finance, distribution, and the ecological landscape of green business. Finally, the top 10 ideas were shortlisted for pitching in the Grand Finale, where different stakeholders were invited, including investors and representatives from startup ecosystems, INGOS, IGOs, the private sector, and others from various sectors.

The top 10 ideas covered a wide range of business concepts targeting multiple districts. These ideas aimed to empower diverse communities, including local potters, traditional artisans, and indigenous farmers in the Chattogram Hill Tracts. Some ideas focused on environmental benefits by creating biodegradable alternatives to plastic and other unsustainable materials. Others aimed to reduce reliance on chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Some ideas also addressed community challenges such as access to safe drinking water in saline-prone areas and food safety.

A jury panel consisting of experts from various sectors selected the top 4 ideas after a pitching session from the top 10 participants, which will receive seed funding and mentoring support to pilot or scale the businesses. Bijon Islam, CEO at LightCastle Partners; Ruhul Kader, CEO at Future StartUp; Fahima Choudhury, Member of the Board of Directors at bKash and Brac Bank; Farida Akhter, Executive Director at UBINIG; and Md Shakibul Alam, Vice President at ZA Capital Advisory, were part of the jury panel.

“EcoCutler”, proposed by Md. Azizul Haque, secured the first prize for his idea of replacing plastic cutlery with sustainable alternatives such as bamboo and wooden cutlery, one-time jute stick straws, and reusable bamboo straws.

The second prize was awarded to “Thirst Relief”, which Farha Binte Firoz presented, for providing safe drinking water to saline-prone coastal communities with affordable household water desalination solutions. 

“Nirapod Shutki Ghor”, by Farhan Bin Habib, was awarded the third prize for providing a chemical-free processing solution for safe dried fish without harmful pesticides or chemical preservatives and also empowering local dried fish processing communities. 

“Gunoboti”, Malobika Dipanwita Roy’s idea of promoting artisanal crafts as an alternative to plastic-based products while empowering traditional artisan communities, secured the fourth prize.

David Knox, Director Programmes Bangladesh, British Council, presented certificates and crests to the participants. In his remarks, David stressed the need to leverage the demographic dividend to build a climate-aware youth ecosystem and emphasised the importance of supporting green entrepreneurship to foster sustainable businesses for Bangladesh’s continued socio-economic progress.

Fahima Choudhury, one of the jury members, praised the 10 ideas as they present potential solutions to many of Bangladesh’s challenges. She underscored how initiatives like AGIYE can enrich the experiences of both young entrepreneurs and the business community, helping them to explore opportunities that can drive Bangladesh into the future.

Syed Muntasir Ridwan, the Co-Executive Director of BYEI, highlighted that there is immense potential among the marginalised youth, and they can transform the grassroots economy and the ecological imbalance through entrepreneurship and innovation, but we need an ecosystem to support them.

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