Youth School for Social Entrepreneurs, in association with the Entrepreneurship Development Club (EDC) of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) successfully organised the third event under their initiative, Bangladesh Youth Symposium at BUET Auditorium Complex. Intending to nurture the seed of social entrepreneurship and self-employment, the three and a half hour long event drew brilliant minds from BUET and beyond the programme.
The Youth School for Social Entrepreneurs (YSSE) is a Bangladesh based non-profit organisation led by the youths of the country. It has developed its network in 21 countries, and its goal is to promote and engrain in our youths’ minds the idea of positive changes through social entrepreneurship. Correspondingly, EDC is one of the most active student organisations of the country trying to bring together a diverse set of engineering students to a platform where they can continuously engage themselves in entrepreneurial activities and through the activities, ultimately fulfill their desire to live their passion.
The programme was divided into three major segments: speeches from the guests, Q&A session, and on spot idea generation and pitching contest.
The guest panel included some of the very experienced entrepreneurs and industrialists. Masud Khan, chief executive officer of Crown Cement Group, was the special guest. Among others present were Waliullah Bhuiyan (CEO of Light of Hope), Shaikh Saif Al Rashid (managing director at APON – Inclusive Wellbeing for Makers) and Rashed Mujib Noman (country director of Augmendix). Besides, there were two entrepreneurs to share their real-life experiences: Sumaya Sharmin (co-founder and CFO, Gyanjam) and Mubasshir Tahmid (co-founder and CFO, Tetra).
The major part of the event was the recounts and teachings from the speakers. The guests shared their first-hand entrepreneurial experiences, explained from their real-life observations the challenges one may face in his/her entrepreneurial journey, and most importantly, the tools and techniques one must possess and be efficient in utilising to survive the highs and lows of their highly uncertain journeys.
Following the welcome and introductory speeches, the special guest Masud Khan delivered his speech. After that, Waliullah Bhuiyan painted a holistic picture of self-employment. This was followed by two more back-to-back sessions on ‘Resource person scaling innovations’ and ‘Marketing a new product by a new venture’ by Shaikh Saif Al Rashid and Rashed Mujib Noman respectively. Then the stage was passed on to two entrepreneurs Sumaya Sharmin and Mubasshir Tahmid to share their experiences.
Each of the speeches was followed by a Q&A session where the respective speaker took questions from the audience. The Q&A session was particularly significant since, in this part, the participants asked their queries and sought solutions to the problems they were facing or had faced themselves in the past. The session was particularly interactive and getting insights from industry experts was significant for the audience.
“A good entrepreneur is a good storyteller,” expressed Rashed Mujib Noman. He shared his valuable advice for brand new entrepreneurs: “For your entrepreneurial venture, make sure you have a 2-minute speech prepared to deliver on demand any time. The speech must include these two things: the problem statement and the solution. And remember to make sure the pitch is prepared as attention-grabbing as possible. Have a shorter, 30-second pitch ready so that you can share the story when you meet someone randomly and don’t have much time.”
The special guest Masud Khan expressed his wise words, “Nowadays, everybody wants to be established without putting the time or the effort that is required. However, you must remember this: no pursuit can be successful without hard work and persistence. To build your own business, you have to do your work.”
The special attraction of the event was ‘Elevator pitch challenge’. While the speeches were going on, the attendees were provided with a piece of paper each and were asked to jot down a couple of lines on any idea that they had at that moment. A few minutes later, those papers were collected. After the speeches were over, a short list of people was made who were then given some time to prepare and pitch their ideas on stage in front of the audience. The top four were given crests.
“To increase the effectiveness of the business, entrepreneurs have no alternative other than engaging in interaction with the consumers about their products and service,” explained Sheikh Muhammad Yousuf Hossain, the president of YSSE.
The event was very educational for the audience. Abeed Araf, an enthusiastic participant from the audience, exclaimed, “Everyone has dreams, but not everyone has the courage or logistics to make that dream a reality. Through today’s experience, we learnt the actual steps that are required to make that happen. The insights we acquired from both the speeches and the Q&A session on how to start a business, how to maintain and sustain the business, how to market and how to innovate were remarkable.”
Self-employment and social business are two fascinating topics that when combined, on the one hand, sets one free to follow one’s passion while on the other hand, facilitates social development through innovation. It has its risks but being able to overcome the risks paves the way to freedom. To quote Yanur Islam Piash, the president of EDC, “With following your passion, comes risk. That’s just part of the deal.”
This article was originally published in The Financial Express. The writer is a first year student of BBA programme at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), University of Dhaka. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org