A team of five Bangladeshi teenagers won a campaign by Hong Kong-based global youth development charity.
The team clinched the HK $ 20,000 (over $2,580) fund for a startup, beating competitors from prestigious educational institutions including Oxford University, University of Warwick, and University of Pennsylvania.
The members of the team are Sebanti Khandaker and Sejal Rahman, twelfth grader at Sunbeams School, Raida Siddiqui, student of Aga Khan School, Raiyan Khan who just passed O-levels from Sunnydale School, and Ramisha Kabir, student of LPC United World College in Hong Kong.
Initially, Ramisha informed her friends in Bangladesh about the competition. Anyone between the age of 15 and 23 from any country could participate in the contest.
They talked among themselves and applied for the competition in June. In the first phase of the campaign, they submitted a business project proposal called ‘ReLeaf’. The main objective of the project is to use information technology to popularise urban gardening.
They came up with a plan to connect the nurseries of different areas of Dhaka through an online service so that the customers could order plants from home. Also, pots, fertiliser, soil and other planting materials would be available at the platform. Gardeners can be found online to receive home services too.
‘ReLeaf’ took its place among top 10 teams in the first phase. Later, each of the teams was asked to conduct a 6 to 8 weeks long campaign. During this period, the organising body asked the contestants to refine their idea more. Gradually, the final structure of the project took shape.
Raida, Sejal, Sebanti and Ramisha worked on procurement, content development and presentation while Raiyan worked on graphics and website. They built a demo website as part of the project and then presented the whole project before the judges through a virtual presentation.
On 18 August, ‘ReLeaf’ emerged victorious as the final results were drawn by public voting and judges.
“Greenery in the city is being lost due to urbanisation. In this backdrop, if we can deliver plants to the home using mobile app, many people will become interested in tree plantation,” said Sebanti.
Ramisha considered they won the contest as each of the members performed their best.
“Our families had a contribution to this achievement,” said Sejal adding that they did not have much experience in business model or marketing and took help from the seniors in family.
Raiyan said they had participated in a local hackathon and won ‘Best Community and Best Visual Design Award’ in March. During that contest she learnt coding, web design and so on.
The team is now implementing the project with the prize money, said Raida and added that they expect the project will run on full swing on the beginning of 2021.
‘ReLeaf’ dreams to spread its activities throughout the country.
*This piece, originally appearing in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten for the English edition by Nusrat Nowrin.