Joy Bangla Youth Award (JBYA), organized by Young Bangla, one of the largest youth platforms of the country, is schemed to recognize countrywide young change makers, facilitate them network among themselves and enhance the services they are already providing to their communities. Startup Chattogram is one of the most unobtrusive change makers that has been awarded the most prestigious award, “Joy Bangla Youth Award 2020” of Bangladesh. Startup Chattogram is a platform where the early stage entrepreneurs can learn about different things which they need in their business. This unstoppable organization is ideal for students and new entrepreneurs who are willing to start their entrepreneurial journey. Startup Chattogram promotes strong skills like communication, collaboration, and leadership which are significant for building up a business. A lot of effort and hard work of many passionate young members is responsible behind this grand success. To direct this young talented team Startup Chattogram has Arafatul Islam Akib, founder and CEO of Startup Chattogram who always believes that nothing can stop a focused and passionate person in order to bring positivity in society. In this conversation, he detailed the story behind the inception of his startup and where he aims to take it.
Arafatul Islam Akib was born and brought up in Chattogram. Akib has stated, “After my father had died, I had to take the responsibility for my family at a very young age and then I impelled myself with extracurricular activities to stand on my own feet and do something on my own. We established a Startup Chattogram in 2017 and started to invite renowned people associated who have been working with entrepreneurship from Dhaka. The startup Chattogram was initiated as a learning platform and program. Then we started a project ‘Startup School’ where many startups enrolled to understand the startup curriculum and to learn about startups. We had engaged almost 300 participants and 10 startups which are doing great work in the market currently. As I worked with Startup Chattogram, I got the opportunity to represent both ‘Startup Chattogram’ and Bangladesh in Global Entrepreneurship Network Bahrain . Last year I also represented Bangladesh in Nepal where I learned how to share my knowledge and experience with them.”
Mr. Akib remarked on the current situation of Bangladeshi entrepreneurship. He asserted, “My life is like a scratch where I have seen both the ups and the downs. When I am leading an organization, I need to focus on the betterment of all the people who positively impact society. For me, Bangladesh is a land of tigers. We, Bangladeshi people, always want to grab every opportunity thrown our way like a hungry tiger who grabs its prey. A tiger observes very carefully before hunting and achieves its target the same as we do before getting an opportunity.”
Mr. Akib was proposed to say something about his inspiration, and he said, “If there is any role model or inspiration in my life, undoubtedly it will be my mother. After my father’s demise, we were grown up with an amazing upbringing by my mother.”
The founder of Startup Chattogram has given his perception of getting the prestigious “Joy Bangla Youth Award 2020”. He believes an award doesn’t mean everything; instead, it signifies his responsibility to society and its people to fulfill their hope with their startups.” Lastly, he has given a piece of advice to the young entrepreneurs, which goes, “Never give up, keep perseverance and try more and
Neealana Naushin, Idea & Innovation Lead at Startup Chattogram, firmly believes that ‘resiliency’ will become an essential factor for tech startup success.
She says, “One vital viewpoint that the pandemic has taught businesses and the general populace is the importance of being resilient. At a time of great urgency when the challenges are too overwhelming, and ventures are striving to find ways to survive, the capability to regain is what counts the most”.
She perceives this resiliency as necessary to control the workforce and the venture’s business strategy and technology structure. She further adds, “It is significant to possess a strong tech resiliency program if businesses aspire to develop customer engagement and pull through gnarly situations.” She advised, “To ensure efficiency, sustainability, and success, one of the top priorities should be to adjust to sudden changes and embrace trends.”
As the Idea & Innovation Lead, Neealana intends to empower the startups and elevate the ventures through Startup Chattogram. She is confident that many young entrepreneurs will be profited from Startup Chattogram and be successful with their startups.
Neealana Naushin graduated from Asian University for Women, Bangladesh, in May 2019, majoring in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, with a minor in Developmental Studies. Later she completed a master’s degree in Technopreneurship & Innovation Program (TIP) from Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, in April 2020. MSc TIP equips students with essential entrepreneurial skills and business acumen to turn novel ideas into successful ventures. The Nanyang Technopreneurship Center (NTC) is a key player in innovation and entrepreneurship education in Asia.
Nusrat Zerin, Coordinator, Idea & Innovation, Startup Chattogram, also shared her journey with us. She stated, “Startup Chattogram has helped me enhance my leadership qualities, taught me how to manage teams and organize the programs we hold. I have also learned how to make decisions wisely in a short time and think critically.” She also added, “Not only has Startup Chattogram improved my skills, but it also connected me to the Entrepreneur networking of Chattogram by hosting webinars, workshops, and conferences. With the help of which I can further help anyone that desires to join the startup community.” She proposes, “The funding and monitoring from Startup Chattogram help the new startups get an initial boost. Because most of the time, startups collapse in their early stage when they lack proper guidance.
The coordinator said about the current programs, “Recently, “Startup Chattogram Incubation” started, a communicative platform for the stakeholders that helps them exchange knowledge and form strategic partnerships with established corporates. We will provide holistic mentorship and guidance in terms of investment, and each team will have an experienced mentor for further growth and empowerment.” She claimed, “The best team among them will be given co-working space with Life Coach Bangladesh for three months. In addition, access to Idea & Innovation grant opportunities worth BDT 10 lac from Startup Bangladesh, Chattogram”.
A few successful sessions were also held, where people from the entrepreneurial society shared their knowledge and tips, including Prof. Khondaker A. Mamun, Ph.D., Founder, CMED Health, on startups’ journey. Asikul Alam Khan, Founder & CEO, PriyoShop.com on getting people to invest in new business ideas. Monjoor Morshed, Technical Program Manager, Facebook on pitching startup ideas. And Farin Daulah, Founder & President, One Circle Welfare Organization, emphasizing Mental Health Awareness. Hopefully, there will be more fruitful sessions coming soon with useful topics for the young startup minds.
Bangladesh is slowly progressing with startup ideas and ventures. People anticipate that it will generate newer job opportunities in the employment sector, and the economy will also bolster when the unemployment rate decreases. Startup Chattogram is playing a significant role in ensuring the expansion of startup ideas all over the country. They launched the first-ever boot camp in Chattogram, collaborating with renowned faces in the industry and government officials. It got an incredible response from people, and they are keen to host more programs like this. Startup Chattogram doesn’t want to leave anyone behind. Their goal is to improve every one of society through entrepreneurial notions. Hopefully, they will bring more success in their journey, connect the dots for entrepreneurs and enhance the business situation of our country.
Ikra Adiba Jahan
Labiba Binte Ismail
They are currently doing internship at Startup Chattogram