Value+ initiators from IBA win BCFN YES at MilanAyesha Sabrina
‘And the award goes to…’ the sheer thrill that you will feel when it is your name being announced as a winner at a major event makes you forget about the sleepless nights you spent before the finale. When it goes international, the winning, the pride and the glory become all the more significant. And that is exactly what Makame Mahmud Dipta , team leader of ‘Value+’ felt on November 27 when he heard his team was being announced as the winners of BCFN Young Earth Solutions! 2013 at the Fifth International Forum on Food and Nutrition in Milan. The talented team of three- Makame Mahmud, Al Jamee Jawad Khan and Rahsin Jamil are all third year BBA students in Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka. This is the first time a team from Bangladesh reached the finals and won the competition while the rest of the world watched the livestream of the finale. So what was so special about the competition that motivated them to apply in the first place?
Former US President John F Kennedy once said, ‘The war against hunger is truly mankind’s war of liberation’. Human civilization has progressed a lot since his time but nearly a billion people on earth still are fighting for food, one of their most basic rights. Like everyone else, Barilla Centre for Food & Nutrition(BCFN), a think tank trying to initiate dialogues and foster widespread well-being among the world’s population, has relied upon the spirit of the youth to make hunger free world a possibility. Each year the centre organises a forum that brings international experts and opinion leaders from all corners of the world under one roof for rounds of discussions on food, nutrition and sustainability. To include the thoughts and ideas of fresh minds and to find innovative solutions to hunger and malnutrition, Guido Barilla, President of BCFN decided to include a competition for university students and researchers under 30. A total of 3,000 participants applied for the first edition of BCFN YES! in 2012. How was BCFN YES! 2013? Winners shed light to those details and shared their experiences with Youth.
On this second edition of the competition, only the ten best ideas were selected from hundreds of submissions for an official presentation. All the finalist teams were awarded with all-expense-paid trip to Italy. After a journey spanning over 50 hours, the team from Bangladesh was all set to present their idea at the venue. There were teams from USA, Canada, India, UK – all battling for the glory of the championship. The competition was intense. Strong dose of medicine for a high fever was making him sweat continuosly as Makame recalls. Still he took the stage and presented ‘ Value+’, the solution his team crafted for months, before a global audience and the judge panel. Development initiatives often leave out the bottom of the pyramid population living in urban region. ‘Value+ is designed not to neglect the 200 million urban slum dwellers. It is an integrated food network, a social enterprise that aims to create awareness among slum dwellers regarding the importance of healthy food and providing easier access to nutritious food items at affordable price,’ explains team leader Makame. The entire solution targetted a 3A framework: Awareness, Affordability and Accesibility.
‘We have three major ideas for the enterprise: Source Cheap- an sms based sourcing system that streamlines the food delivery value chain, Nutri Shop- a community store that will give slum dwellers access to fresh food at an affordable price and a Pushti(nutrition)Apa our venture will train to provide health tips to these people and a Community Kitchen- a common kitchen to provide clean cooking environment for everyone’ , explained Jamee. Brilliant ideas were put up by others but theirs struck as the most innovative and feasible of all. There were no runner up awards, only the championship, which the team from Bangladesh accomplished. The team also received €1000 as prize money. When asked what was their proudest moment, Rahsin said, ‘The President of Barilla group met us two days after the finale and expressed his interests to invest in our project. We never thought about winning the competition, let alone the person who initiated the competition showing his desires to support our project’. The team had an hour long meeting with Barilla and Andrea Pini, head of finance at Barilla Group and discussed numbers and coalition prospects. Once they are back in Bangladesh, they will develop more on their action plan and move ahead with further discussions. While the team is enjoying their trip across Europe, they are also thrilled about a potential partnership with the person spearheading the largest pasta manufacturing company in the world. These moments of pride and honour are not just inspiring for these talented winners, these are encouraging for all young activists trying to bring about an innovative change.
Winners of BCFN YES! 2013: Makame Mahmud Dipta, Al Jamee Jawad Khan and Rahsin Jamil with the hosts at the finale. Ã¢€” Courtesy photo
Makame Mahmud presenting Value+ in the finale in Milan. Ã¢€” Courtesy photo
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