BRAC launches Urban Innovation Challenge 2016
BRAC launched a competition today to find solutions to the growing challenges faced by people living in cities across Bangladesh. The Mayor of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), Mr Annisul Huq, launched the Urban Innovation Challenge at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Novo Theatre. The Mayor hailed the initiative as a major milestone in Bangladesh’s progress in urban development, saying “Compared to other countries, Dhaka is more densely populated. 140000 people live per square kilometer. We are struggling to find a better solution for managing the street hawkers and transport problem of the city. So I would urge the urban innovators of our country to come up with innovative and inclusive solutions for these. Mayor’s office will be happy to take those ideas.”
Urbanisation in Bangladesh has accelerated rapidly in the past few decades. This is having drastically negative effects on health, transport and employment. Dhaka is the 9th most densely populated city in the world, and around1100 migrants arrive in the city every day.
BRAC has initiated the year-long challenge to create a platform to work with innovators, young entrepreneurs and university students to improve life in cities across the country. The goal is to find the best ideas in Bangladesh and support innovators to build them into sustainable social enterprise models. The challenge will focus on three specific problem areas: health, transportation and informal sector employment.
Potential challengers must submit their applications by November 30. Shortlisted applicants will then be asked to submit full proposals, and a high-profile jury will select 4-5 winners. Winners will build their prototypes and test them in the field with BRAC from April- August 2017. They will receive mentoring, skills development and support, as well as a grant amount up to BDT 5 lac and linkage to potential investors.
Executive Chairman of PPRC Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman praised the initiative at the panel discussion, saying, “The solutions have to be specific from the user’s perspective. But at the same time it has to be comprehensive keeping both the megacity and the towns in mind.”
The panel also included Professor Abdullah Abu Sayeed, founder and chairperson of Bishwo Shahitto Kendro. He said, “Dhaka is a city of immense possibilities. We need to think about our cities by ourselves. Our youth have possibilities, talent and ideas, we can guide them making those into reality.”
Young entrepreneurs speaking at the event included the founder of 10 Minute School, Ayman Sadiq, and founder of Identity Inclusion, Shamsin Ahmed, who spoke on entrepreneurship in a session titled “Udbhaboner Golpo.”
Partnering for the Urban Innovation Challenge are Shout-Daily Star for youth engagement, Radio Shadhin for radio engagement, Beatnik for digital engagement and IDEO.ORG for knowledge management.
This initiative is a part of BRAC’s newly launched urban development programme which focuses on improved service delivery, mobilisation and governance.