Citi, UNDP support young entrepreneurs to achieve SDGs in Bangladesh

Citi, UNDP support young entrepreneurs to achieve SDGs in Bangladesh



United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Citi Foundation have co-created Youth Co:Lab as a platform for young entrepreneurs in Asia Pacific towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through innovative business solutions.

The closing event of “Youth Co:Lab Bangladesh National Springboard Programme 3.0”, was organised by UNDP and Citi Foundation in association with the ICT Division on Thursday over a virtual conference to share the ideas of youths accelerating the implementation of SDGs through leadership, social innovation and entrepreneurship.

State Minister for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Zunaid Ahmed Palak, Chairman, Board of Directors, Startup Bangladesh Ltd. NM Zeaul Alam, PAA, Resident Representative of UNDP Sudipto Mukherjee, Youth Co:Lab Bangladesh Govt. Focal and Managing Director Startup Bangladesh Ltd. Tina Jabeen and Citi Country Officer, Bangladesh N. Rajashekaran (Shekar) were present at the virtual ceremony along with other guests.

For the third consecutive year, Youth Co:Lab is working continuously in order to further the agenda of development and tackling SDGs.

This year the global pandemic has caused an unforeseen rise of unemployment in Bangladesh and entrepreneurship is key to tackling unemployment. During the event, top five teams were awarded in the event for their innovations as startup ecosystems from the 13 social enterprises. These startups participated in a 3-day virtual bootcamp, which was conducted by the experts from UNDP.

This year Amar Lab, Kotha, Liter of Light Bangladesh, Mechanic Koi and Releaf were awarded in the national dialogue event. These teams came up with excellent solutions with significant social impact at the community level for attaining the SDGs.

AmarLab is a health-tech startup, providing end-to-end diagnostic test service in Bangladesh, while Kotha is a feminist organisation tackling the culture of gender-based violence (GBV) through primary interventions, Liter of Light Bangladesh is a research-oriented social enterprise working on renewable energy lighting solutions. Mechanic Koi is an online platform that provides 360-degree vehicle solutions while ReLeaf is an urban gardening-oriented social business and platform.

“We’ve had an amazing journey with Youth Co:Lab. The learning was immensely important for us for that reason. AmarLab is so thankful for this remarkable event,” said Dr Shazzat Rahat Hossain, Chief Clinical Officer, AmarLab.

Prasenjjit Biswas (Munna), Co-founder and Chief Communication Officer, Mechanic Koi said, “In the last two days, we’ve learned so many insightful thoughts from our fellow mentors and participants about social enterprising, which will surely help us accelerate our start-up in a new path in this tough time.”

Team Kotha stated, “Kotha’s significant takeaway from the Youth CoLab Springboard Programme is entering the Startup Ecosystem of Bangladesh in such an incredible manner. Undoubtedly, it was an amazing opportunity of learning from the respected mentors as well as fellow entrepreneurs.”

N. Rajashekaran (Shekar), Citi County Officer, Bangladesh said, “We are constantly impressed by the innovation of our young Bangladeshi entrepreneurs and their endeavors in addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) challenges.

Through Youth Co:Lab, we are working closely with the startups in order to harness their spirit and inspire them to reach new heights every day. Citi Foundation is proud to join this movement and work on solving some of the most crucial social and economic challenges.”

Sudipto Mukerjee said one cannot help but take note of the rapidly increasing numbers of youth led start-ups in Bangladesh, catalysed by Digital Bangladesh.

“To my mind, this is a clear signal that a large part of both the Covid response and recovery will be youth led and that if systematically supported with a more enabling ecosystem, will feed further into meeting the other development aspirations of Bangladesh such as LDC graduation and successful achievement of Agenda 2030.”

In the national dialogue, Citi and UNDP brought together government officials, private sector participants, NGOs, academia, social incubators, entrepreneurs and young business leaders, and youth participants to advance discussions and identify solutions for startup financing, business-to-business opportunities and actions for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

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