GEN Z future entrepreneurs

The post COVID-19 era marks a significant change in the minds of the young people. They have witnessed how the world has adapted to so much change in matter of days. Early in their lives they have encountered a deep reality and I see that influencing their plans for the future.
With disruptions and changes in ways of learning, interacting, transacting and overall behaving in the society, young people are moving away quickly from the legacy beliefs of a defined future with a 9 to 5 job. What is clear is that becoming an entrepreneur is quickly becoming the number one choice for “Generation Next” – as many young people already want to break away from the fixed salary jobs. It’s not just the established big businesses that help society get through a crisis like COVID-19 but a new generation of up-and-coming entrepreneurs who are fostering innovation, ensuring future sustainability, focusing on building safe, equitable business models are strong contenders in the game.
The revolutionary startups who are struggling yet hungry to establish something new are the biggest source of inspiration to young minds! I see two primary traits of these future startups: number one is agility and the other is resilience. Consumer expectations have changed. People are much more at ease with using new technology. So It is certainly becoming easier to become an entrepreneur and think beyond geographic boundaries. Cloud-based tech business has more than halved costs in starting and running a business. It’s also much easier to access new technology. Websites and platforms that integrate a tech stack enable small businesses to market products to a wider audience, with better connections and transparency between buyers, sellers, and partners. Thus, becoming an entrepreneur and building a small business is now the number one option when it comes to the gen Z young people.
· The young people are more informed and at par with global concerns, they have high awareness on building a sustainable world and speak a common language. They are more equipped to make the largest impact in the society, such as
· They see what others see, but see it from several different angles and perspectives
· They are good at spotting and observing the emerging trends even before it is noticed
· They are creators, who do not mind taking risk, looking weird or sounding ridiculous
· They get propelled by how they can make it work, focused on multiple solutions
· They are interested in how a seemingly unnoticed common problem or pain of masses can create opportunity for a new business
· They fail often, but get around the failures by resounding success
· They disrupt the existing and set new trends by thinking, asking, doing what was not done by most
· They are the biggest learners; they learn from every walk of life and from everyone
· They challenge status-quo, themselves and the experts
Let’s encourage our next generation to follow this behavior of constant learning from everywhere. Let’s encourage them try and fail and learn. Whenever their passion, idea and time to market are in resonance there is bound to be many more Steve or Gates or Ayman or Afeef in the limelight. The future entrepreneurs will create the leap of our economy. We need not only a young workforce who are fit to join work but even more people to think differently and contribute to the creation of more and more jobs in the market. To create something fabulous that has a 10X ripple effect in the economy. The Gen Z entrepreneurs will propel the growth of Bangladesh to become the developed nation of 2041.

Small acts of kindness make a better world

When we were growing up bullying used to happen face to face. It was mainly in the form of peer pressure bullying. It was done mostly to your face or behind your back verbally. Trust me I know firsthand as I not only was bullied by a classmate as a young kid, but I also witnessed bullying to others even after that happened to me. Unkind words have immense impact on anyone. Fortunately, I had a very kind teacher who gave me courage to fight back. She taught me to see why the bully was weak. Understanding his perspective and his reasons. You may have heard the saying, “Before you criticize or judge someone, walk a mile in their shoes.” This quote is all about empathy or kindness.
Kids nowadays still must deal with bullying in two folds - in real world and in a virtual environment. Technology has become a new and current avenue for bullying to occur. This type of bullying is known as cyberbullying.  
Being bullied is never a fun experience be it online or offline. It hurts the same. Therefore, kindness has never been more needed than it is now. In parallel pandemic has not only opened a new and unknown world of interaction for us and for our children. We are all coming together in online space where the rules, manners and approach is new. But that does not mean the regular rule of interaction like decency, kindness and empathy is not applicable in here. In fact it is much important in online space than in real world. What Aesop said more than 2,000 years ago sums up the basic: “No act of kindness no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
Few easy rules that can keep kindness around and active
·   To understand empathy, children can be told to imagine themselves in another person’s shoes with a narrative to help them understand impact of unkind words.
·      Help them imagining an internet user as more than a username in reality: that there is a real person with real feelings on the other end of online interactions.
·      Applying real world rules  involving smiling, waving, eye contact, and welcoming gestures therefore makes all the difference.  This will encourage children to both visualize the real people behind computer screens, and to critically consider the nature of their actions and words online. 
·      Always good resource helps. These days children like learning through gamification. Here Digiworld game can come into play as this is an interactive game that teaches through gamification. It is age appropriate and an interesting activity that can be played together. 

Get Future Ready

Bangladesh at 50 years is a changed Bangladesh. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of the nation, called Bangladesh the Golden Bengal and the people of this country with immense potential. He has showed us the dream of a golden Bengal, which will be a state free from hunger and poverty, a prosperous state that will stand with pride on the globe. 
From 1971 to 2021, Bangladesh is progressing at a accelerated pace, surprising the whole world. The one-time bottomless basket is now seen by everyone as a role model for development. Even the Corona pandemic has set a unique example for the way Bangladesh has bravely handled the situation. Our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is a shining example of demonstrating far-reaching strong leadership and unstoppable will. She has been working tirelessly to change the destiny of our people. In recent years, Bangladesh has achieved significant social and economic success.
Based on our growing productivity, we have achieved an average growth rate of 7.8% over the last decade. Not only that, Bangladesh has also set a shining example of progress in a number of human development indicators, including adult literacy, life expectancy and gender.
Appreciation to Hon'ble Prime Minister. Under your strong leadership, our country is on a high growth trajectory today, tackling extreme poverty, improving our livelihood, we have got a digital Bangladesh and above all our country has emerged from the least developed country segment to the middle income country. It is a moment of extraordinary pride as a Bengali.
The progress of this development did not come suddenly, there are various long-term plans behind it. From the very beginning, the Government of Bangladesh has taken Vision 2021, Bangladesh Perspective Plan 2010-2021 and Sixth and Seventh Five Year Plans. As a result, we are seeing today a decade-long GDP growth of 7.8%.
While the world has been plagued by Corona outbreaks, we are dealing with our limited resources with visibly great success. Under the leadership of our government, we have all tried to cooperate from our respective fields. During the Corona period, food was provided to the poor in a country of 160 million people, and efforts were made to provide security for the unemployed. So far, our vaccination program has been very efficient and well-received. The Hon'ble Prime Minister has not only provided vaccinations for us but has also inspired everyone to handle the situation with necessary protection.
I believe an unprecedented time awaits us. The development that Bangladesh has set for itself in the next two decades is also far-sighted and courageous. Progressive Development will take place in agriculture, industry and commerce, education and health, transportation and communication systems, and operations and business management. To carry this we have a new direction which is the vision of the government of Bangladesh 2041. If this is implemented, the face of our country will change radically and we will be known as a developed country. Over the next two decades, our GDP growth rate will continue to rise and we will be able to get rid of extreme poverty forever.
But the goal we are moving forward with is a much bigger and courageous goal. It may seem very ambitious at first glance but it is true that our goal of becoming a developing country at one time had also seemed very ambitious; But which we have already achieved. So I believe it is not impossible. There are many challenges, many risks in the way of achieving the goals of our perspective plan. There will be many obstacles in this long journey that we have to face. This will require strong economic and political foresight and well-thought-out strong action. And to that end, under the leadership of the government, we must all come forward together - the private sector and development partners.
Creating employment for our young society is a vital task to continue our economic progress and maintain this continuity of growth. A major part of our population is young, about 2.8 million young people are looking for employment every year and this number is increasing each year. To the naked eye it may seem like a problem, but I see it as a possibility, our population dividend stands a sea of opportunities in front of us. To convert this working population into active human resources who can be the biggest contributors to take the economy beyond achievements of GDP target level. But we also need to keep in mind that this opportunity is limited. As the overall age of our young population increases over the next 20 years, we will be deprived of those benefits if we do not take advantage of this opportunity in time.
For this we need to design not just one program but multiple connected programs which will be managed with the joint efforts of all of us. Everyone here must come forward for our next generation. All our efforts may not be successful, but in any difficult endeavor we either win or we learn. In this journey we hope that at some point we will be able to achieve something that will become a model not only for our youth but for the whole world. Millions of young people today are waiting for employment. They will be the next Bangladesh. They will be the economic driving force of the future.

Grameenphone wins ‘Digital Bangladesh Award 2021’

December 12, 2021
Grameenphone received the prestigious 2021 Digital Bangladesh Award in the ‘institutional category’ for its notable contribution to the development of Bangladesh's startup ecosystem and youth enablement. The award honors innovative initiatives by companies committed to digital innovation to support Government’s growth ambition. The award was handed over to Yasir Azman, CEO, Grameenphone on December 12, 2021 at Bangabandhu International Conference Center (BICC) by Hon’able Prime Minister, Her Excellency Sheikh Hasina along with State Minister for ICT, Zunaid Ahmed Palak.
To continue the country’s growth momentum and unleash the potential to achieve our vision of a self-sustained and knowledge-based economy we need to harness on the digitalization and leverage our demographic dividend. Grameenphone Accelerator, announced in 2015, is a collaborative program designed to help new startups succeed and create that much needed economic dividend that drives national growth. This six month program expand the range of solutions to startups through workshops, goal setting, business building support, mentorship, investor connect and many more.
Zunaid Ahmed Palak, State Minister for ICT, said, “The Government has been putting serious emphasis on creating ICT awareness and promoting technology as the enabler for the promised Digital Bangladesh. In this regard, rewarding the deserving initiatives and the patronizing organizations could be a praiseworthy step to keep the spirit high. Winning programs are paving the way for our nation to prepare for the forthcoming tech revolution in business and other major sectors. Congratulations to all the winners of the national ‘Digital Bangladesh Award,’ your contributions to society shall be cherished.”
Yasir Azman, CEO of Grameenphone, thanked the organizers for recognizing the organization’s efforts in upskilling the youth for a better tomorrow. “I would like to take the opportunity to thank our Hon’able Prime Minister for recognizing our contributions to the Digital Bangladesh journey I am humbled and honored to be receiving this award. To reiterate our social commitment and truly empower the nation, Grameenphone believes in taking a youth-first approach, upskilling and reskilling them with industry-first initiatives like FutureNation and GP Accelerator to enable and unleash the potential of the demographic dividend into future drivers of economic progress, and tap into the 4IR opportunities. In this era of digitalization, it is important for us to step up and be a part of the change that is inevitable, and recognitions like this inspire us and motivate us with a deep sense of empowering Bangladesh to collectively equip our youth with future-ready skills and march towards becoming a knowledge-based high-income country by 2041.””

Partnership with UNDP

1st Nov’2021
Future Nation is a new coalition of the government, private and development sector leaders to accelerate the future national economic growth agenda by transforming the country’s population dividend into the key driving force of the economy and enabling them to achieve economic independence beyond borders.
The program has emerged in the context of the post-COVID world as a collective effort to create decent work and entrepreneurship opportunities for the nation. The program envisions enabling Economic Opportunities for All in Bangladesh by 2041. The program also aspires to take a strategic position to become a leading economic enabler by building an agile eco-system connecting industry experts to accelerate economic opportunities through investment development, workforce capability development and relevant enablement supports. The idea is that the youth workforce will be able to convert the set of capabilities and enablement gained from the program into higher paid jobs both locally and globally which would yield a stream of income in years to come. The program will also focus on building the next generation of entrepreneurs across the nation.
FutureNation marks the unique collaboration between Development sector (UNDP) and the private sector (Grameenphone) also involving Government sector to join hands and drive this critical journey ahead. Bangladesh is a country of dreams and the realization of the dream depends on the majority our young work-ready population will enter into a mature stage in next 20 years. Future Nation takes the mission to create conducive environment to utilize this generation for economic value creation through enablement of the youth with the right skills and economic opportunities.
The collaboration has been established when UNDP identified that the private sector is not only a critical player in development but also in responding to a crisis, in post-crisis recovery, and in preparedness for recurrence. UNDP introduced Post Covid19 he private sector platform which acted as a multi-sector, multi-stakeholder frontier to serve as a mechanism and conduit for the business community to be engaged in the nCOVID-19 response faster and at scale, while planning ahead for recovery through innovation and suggested reforms.

Grameenphone recognized for contribution towards making digital space safer

29 October 2021
Grameenphone has been working with Online safety since 2014 and has received recognition in many forms over the years. It was another feather in the cap when we received Hourarable mention by CSR award for our efforts  and contribution in the space of online safety. Child online safety is an initiative that is driven across the country to keep children safer and become more digitally resilient online and provide resources for parents and guardians to create the eco-system that helps children grow and achieve their dreams. It’s about helping today’s children become future ready and we are very pleased to  be recognized for all that drives the project.
CSR award is led by The Daily Star to team up with the CSR Window Bangladesh -- a platform that allows individuals, entrepreneurs, corporates, non-governmental or social organisations to bring ideas to life that benefit communities at large -- to recognise the impactful projects that can serve as benchmarks for the others. The award honors exceptional corporate social responsibility initiatives by companies, organizations and agencies.
Online safety so far has trained over 2.5 million school children and marginalized adolescent girls, educated and empowered 200,000 parents and teachers through  training and easy resources, multiple dialogue and discussion amongst expects and users have taken place to create a wider understanding of policy level requirement, simultaneously building understanding and awareness across country through campaigns and communication

Shaping the future of young people

Sadmeena, Proshanta and Maliha are few among the many graduates from Grameenphone’s upskilling platform. Their experience at the Grameenphone Academy are testaments of the real needs and impact in the lives of young people.
Sadmeena’s story
I am Sadmeena Promi, working as a Curriculum Developer, BRAC IED (in Early Childhood Development Program) also an explorer of Grameenphone Explorers Program where over 340 bright students from all over the country had gathered and showed their interest. The experience of the GP Explorer 2.0 program was quite incredible where this program included a variety of virtual and live interactions between participants and mentors, with a focus on improving communication, entrepreneurship, and digital skills. It provided a conceptual understanding learning setting in which we were able to meet with industry leaders, work in groups, and receive ongoing guidance from our coaches. That had a significant impact on the overall experience, and I believe that this is the program's unique feature: it allows individuals to go beyond their main strengths. For example, the few GP Explorers sessions on developing technical skills inspired me to pursue new interests, and I was awarded the "Commonwealth of Learning: Grow with Google '' scholarship as a result. And it was in this way that the GP Explorers program expanded my horizons. Secondly, I'm aiming to carry my learning forward and progressively transform into my area of expertise using the information I gained during the program on technical skills, leadership, and soft skills. Hence, I am really thankful Grameenphone’s initiative to organize GP Explorer-youth development program aimed at upskilling and preparing us for future.
Proshanta’s story
Hi! This is Proshanta Bhowmik, currently studying for master’s degree in IT from Macquarie University. I am a proud explorer of Grameenphone Explorers, where the program not only taught me communication skills and digital marketing, but also presented me with a comprehensive view of acceptable employment practices. It prepared us all for the job market, and as a result, I was able to secure my first job before the end of the program. As explorers, we had the opportunity to test our ideas, knock through boundaries, and rediscover ourselves. Along with the course contents and weekly mentorship, we also received something unique called the Masterclass, where large corporate experts and changemakers presented their practical expertise, listened to our ideas, answered our questions, and directed our views in the proper path. The GP Explorers program encouraged us to look for new chances and use them to further our education. We had the opportunity to meet and collaborate with a wide range of people. This helped us become better team players, leaders, and communicators. I feel prepared to embrace the transformation and contribute to the advancement of my country as a result of the GP Explorers program. Every obstacle or stepping block, in my opinion, creates innovative approaches. If Covid-19 was the key barrier in my situation, GP Explorer provided me with the opportunity to expand my knowledge and improve my skills. Thank you for having a wonderful experience, Grameenphone.
Maliha’s Story
I am Sarwat-A-Maliha, currently working as a Digital Ninja of Grameenphone Academy, Grameenphone Ltd. I am an explorer of Grameenphone Explorers where the program gave me a broad overview of acceptable workplace behavior along with communication, digital marketing & entrepreneurship skills. It trained us all for our future careers, and I was able to land my first job before graduating. I never thought I would get the first job with the first interview of my life because I always had a fear of facing interviews but through adequate training and coaching, this program really helped me to overcome the fear and get my first job. GP Explorers program gave me the chance to broaden my skills and sharpen my talents. Thank you for having a wonderful experience, Grameenphone.

Enabling rural fishing community with deep sea network

Grameenphone completed the enhancement of its deep-sea network capacity in the Bay of Bengal. As a result of the wider mobile network range, fishermen and commuters on the deep sea will now be able to communicate through GP with the mainland.
We are providing this deep-sea network coverage from the point of Cox’s Bazar, Kuakata, Char Kukrimukri in Bhola, and Char Montaz in Patuakhali, up to 38 km from the Bangladesh coastline
From the currently available data, more than 500 vessel units use Grameenphone’s services to connect with the mainland. With this advancement, we once again reiterate its promise to empower societies through connectivity solutions.
Every year the coastal area faces a lot of natural disasters such as cyclones, tornadoes and tidal waves which results in loss of lives as well as damage in the economy. The average loss per year can accumulate up to BDT 45 billion due to these natural disasters. Apart from natural disasters, pirate activities also hamper the livelihoods of fishermen and commuters.
This network development is poised to aid these bread earners and commuters at sea and keep them safe with prompt communication with relevant authorities and with their families.

A life changing phone call

Fourteen-year-old Tahmina (not her real name) a happy go lucky girl had all the usual dreams of an adolescent girl. But that changed when she met a boy she liked and upon persistent request shared couple of intimate pictures. This was the turning point when she was constantly under pressure to have a more intimate relationship.
Fortunately, she was aware of 1098, the helpline for children and called the helpline during pandemic. Initially she was very unsure and scared, but after few calls she found the much needed assurance and comfort which gave her the courage to open up. So she sought help from the call center counselor. The call center agent reassured her and gave her more examples of support. 
Her story is not unique. She reported that she had developed a relationship with a 16 year old boy during the lockdown and at one point of their interaction through popular digital communication app she shared two private photos with him. She never thought she would be at any risk as she trusted him and had an emotional attachment with the boy. However, after she shared the pictures the entire scenario changed. The boy became more demanding and wanted much more intimacy in the relationship. Which made Tahmina uncomfortable, and she refused. This made the boy more adamant, and he started threatening her with dire consequences by making the photos digitally viral.  At this point Tahmina remembered the helpline number that she had noticed in one of the online safety banners, a co-branded communication part of Grameenphone Unicef online safety project.
Learning the details the psychosocial counsellor, social worker, and the manager decided to contact the boy. They counselled him, including informing him of the legal and social consequences of his misconduct. Multiple session made him conscious and ashamed which led him to a promise to change his approach.
Since then the helpline has checked with Tahmina few times and learned that the boy is behaving very well and has not bothered her ever since. Tahmina thanked Child helpline 1098 for their support and for helping her to overcome this problem of online abuse. Since then she has been trained on online safety and she has promised to be digitally cautious and smart.
As part of a comprehensive child protection system, the government of Bangladesh has set up child helplines, to strengthen programmes and support children and their families, through a 24- hour toll-free telephone service. The programmes serve to build the capacity and increase the number of call centre agents. Grameenphone, in partnership with UNICEF, has extended its support to strengthen the service, whether it is the training of call centre agents to psychological counsellors or the core operation of the centre. 

Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion