May 5 marked the end of the third Jolkona Catalyst accelerator program, an intensive three-week accelerator program for entrepreneurs from emerging countries. For their spring cohort, eight of the most promising entrepreneurs from Bangladesh traveled to Seattle for mentor-based training and pitch coaching.
After their trainig ended participants pitched their ventures in front of the Seattle social entrepreneurship community at Spring 2015 Jolkona Catalyst Showcase. Their pitches were fast and only lasted for three minutes. Their presentations were judged by a panel of experts who provided their feedback. The panel of judges consisted of Boris Jabes, co-founder of Meldium; Jason Preston, co-founder of Dent the Future; and Janis Machal, Managing Partner of Paladin Partners.
“We saw a lot of promising startups in the spring 2015 batch, we would like to appreciate the audience, the judges and also congratulate the winners of the Judges choice and People’ choice awards.”
All the participants gave their best, but since there can be one winner it was very difficult for the judges and the audience to choose. After much suspense, Fiona Khandoker Shaba of TrainedBD won the judges choice award and Debojit Saha of Shurokka won the people’s choice award.
We at SD ASIA would like to congratulate these startups and are expecting to see great things from them in the near future.
Fiona Khandoker Shaba Pitching for TrainedBD
Fiona Khandoker Shaba is the CEO and Founder of TrainedBD. While traveling as a Research Assistant throughout Bangladesh, she realized that lack of stable employment was the main reason behind much of the hardships of the underprivileged community. She analyzed the Bangladeshi job market and identified some systematic inefficiencies that aggravated unemployment and underemployment rates. Following this, she and her business partner started working on TrainedBD, a platform that connects trained manual laborers with employers. Their platform aims to help low and semi-skilled workers find stable jobs with reputable employers. Her main target is to solve those systematic inefficiencies that still lurk in the Bangladeshi job market.
Debojit Saha Pitching for Shurokka
Debojit Saha was running a market research firm while completing his Bachelors degree from University of Dhaka. During one of his projects that concerned the RMG industry of Bangladesh, he uncovered that the turnover rate for female employees were more than that of the male employees. When he probed into this issue he realized that the main reason for this high absenteeism rate is due to the fact of high cost of sanitary products that were being dispensed at male run stores. This eventually led him to co-found Shurokka, a startup that makes low-cost high-quality sanitary napkins that are subsidized by the garment industry and dispensed by approachable women who can also give valuable education in personal hygiene.
Other participants of the spring 2015 batch were, Social Business Youth Alliance Global, Footsteps, Green Emancipation, Humanity Foundation and Amar Desh Amar Gram. On a happier note Jolkona has already announced that they will be accepting applications for Fall 2015 from June. So if you are an entrepreneur and your are eager to participate please keep an eye on their website.