''There are tea garden workers in the Sylhet region who would work for wages as low as BDT 69 per day and there is only one earning member in each family. During each off-season, all the families go through tough times since the sole earning member is unemployed during this period. My project aims to empower them by creating employment opportunities, simply by financing them initially to produce paper bags, which are economical to produce and also has a good market price,'' said Saiful Islam. He is a student of one of the well renowned public universities of Bangladesh -Shahjalal University of Science and Technology. Saiful was among 24 other young entrepreneurs who participated in a boot camp titled, 'Innovate, Incubate and Grow (IIG): A Social Enterprise Support Programme' organised by the British Council in partnership with ChangeMaker from 11 February to 15 February 2016.
It was held for the first time in Bangladesh at the Human and Organisational Potential Enhancement (HOPE) Training Centre of the Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh (CCDB) which is situated in Savar. The boot camp was a 5-day intensive training in social enterprise delivered by UK experts to enhance their skills and develop their business plan before a final pitching session in front of a panel of judges.
International facilitator Roy Clunie of Social Enterprise Academy, UK facilitated the boot camp along with other Bangladeshi facilitators and social entrepreneurs. In conjunction with the call to submit the social enterprise idea, 24 short listed participants in nine groups were selected for the boot camp. They showcased their innovative social enterprise ideas in the programme.
Roy Clunie pointed out the interesting thing in Bangladesh is that social enterprises are being introduced in the university level and Bangladesh is probably leading the way in that field – that has not happened in the UK or in other western countries. Giving illustrations of Scotland’s 25 years of successful social entrepreneurship, he added that it was a pleasure to share the idea with the youths.
The boot camp was successful because it provided potential social entrepreneurs with essential knowledge of the immense possibilities of social enterprises that can substantially contribute towards economic development as well as successful financial returns. This boot camp was a part of British Council’s Social Enterprise Capacity Building and Business and Investment Readiness Programme (BiR).