UNDP and Citi Foundation honour youth-led social enterprises for achieving SDGs

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Citi Foundation awarded three top-performing social-enterprises led by young people for their innovations as startup ecosystem, to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, at an event held on 07 September at the Bangabandhu International Conference Center (BICC), Dhaka.

The event titled “Accelerator Bangladesh: National Dialogue to Foster the Startup Ecosystem in Bangladesh” was the closing of a three-day programme, jointly organized by UNDP and the Citi Foundation in association with the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MoYS). The initiative is a part of Youth Co:Lab, a platform for youth entrepreneurship in 18 countries across Asia-Pacific including Bangladesh.

Earlier nine startup teams participated in the 2-day boot camp guided by the experts from different sectors and heightened their ideas and solutions on issues from education to renewable energy, aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals. Among the nine, three were selected as the top on the closing day for their innovative solutions on literacy, waste management, and community tourism. These three will go to the next round of Asia Regional Summit which will be held in Vietnam in next year.


Attending the national dialogue as the chief guest, A B M Ruhul Azad, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Youth and Sports said, “The government is always supporting and creating opportunities for the young minds to take their ideas and passions and turn them into businesses”. Youth Co:Lab can be a platform for young people for learning and sharing across the border, he further added.

“Youth are the future of a nation and are a vital force of change. Bangladesh has a huge demographic dividend which can take the country towards the path of progress. To harness the potential of these young people, globally the Citi Foundation has committed to invest $100MM to make 500,000 youth employable by 2020 and providing expert guidance with the support of 10,000 of Citi volunteers,” said N Rajashekaran. Citi Bangladesh Country Officer.

“Youth is the source of energy and today’s young people are tomorrow’s duty bearers for SDGs. It’s therefore essential we invest in youth effectively and sustainably so that the hidden talents of youth get the opportunities to showcase their talents. Youth Co:Lab is UNDP’s regional initiative to create that opportunity for young people in Bangladesh.” Kyoko Yokosuka, Deputy Country Director, UNDP while addressing the audiences.

Around 300 delegates which included government officials, private sector participants, NGOs, academia, social incubators, entrepreneurs, and young business leaders and youth were present in the closing event.


Ashfaqul Haque