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In our first Alumni Highlight, we’re sharing the story of Nadya Fadila Saib, Co-Founder & CEO of Wangsa JelitaOn her blog, Nadya shares her experience of going through Jolkona Catalyst after just returning to her home country of Indonesia. Nadya was part of our very first Jolkona Catalyst cohort from Indonesia in June 2014! 

Curious about our next Jolkona Catalyst session and how you can get involved? Visit our Jolkona Catalyst Application page

In the last two weeks, I joined a program called Jolkona Catalyst as one of five Indonesian Social Entrepreneurs. The program was run by Jolkona Foundation in Seattle, and it gave an insightful and incredible experience. To me personally, at least.

And as I spend more time reminiscing and thinking about my “a-ha moments” during the program, it really is difficult to make a list of just top three moments, or even just to come up with one from each day. But now that the program has ended and I am back home from the chilly hilly Seattle, I realize that my a-ha moment was something a lot more powerful. I realize that it is less of a moment, and more of a momentum. And that, I think, makes Jolkona Catalyst my most favorite program thus far, in so many levels.

Part of it is the timing. Wangsa Jelita is five years old—actually six this year. And just like observing a toddler grows, I can see how Wangsa Jelita matures through an exciting pace. In the past months in particular, however, Wangsa Jelita has been going on one challenge after another. And it is so tempting—as well exciting—to me, to get straight to the issue and tackle them one by one. Too exciting sometimes, it can get very draining. Jolkona Catalyst was the much needed caesura; giving me time to be away and watch from a far, seeing how the system in the business runs without much of my involvement, and having some zen time to think more thoroughly about the next steps. Two weeks well spent.

The other part is the content of the program. Not only that I learned something new, the messages I got from the program were rich too, and they helped me make sense of the last few years of both my professional and personal life. I did a lot of introspection and got a few reminders. Here are my two main takeaways.

  • Understanding our own value(s) is essential—because it is something we will hold on to tightly whenever we make decisions in life, both personal and professional matters. I feel fortunate for some circumstances recently have allowed me to be more appreciative with the time I have. And I believe, in order to not taking time for granted, knowing priorities is important. And this program has taught me that priorities can only be set once I know what my values are. I’m beyond thankful for this particular lesson.
  • We are all in a relationship business—no matter what kinds of products and services we offer. I was hit by this statement when my mentor, Heide Felton, first told me, and I was so intrigued that I kept thinking about it. When I met Charles of Theo Chocolate for the second meeting, he gave me an advice which resonated well with it, I quote, “you gotta know your people” (customers, stakeholders..) – to me, it was like an epiphany. No relationship (business) can grow without continuous efforts to know more about its significant someone (stakeholders). Truer than true.

And last but not the least, there were the people; from the super successful mentors, the insightful lecturers and coaches, the thoughtful team of Jolkona, the passionate batch folks I have, not to mention the field trips to some of the most successful companies worldwide (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Geogache, Google, Microsoft, Theo Chocolate, and many others) which allowed us to sit together and ask questions to their top management level people so that we can learn from their experience. They all make the program even more enriching. I feel inspired and moved.

Gates Foundation Visitor Center is the best example  that shows how powerful story telling is.

Gates Foundation Visitor Center is the best example
that shows how powerful story telling is.

Jolkona is full of radiant people like Nancy, who radiate positive energy and have beautiful smiles.

Jolkona is full of radiant people like Nancy,
who radiate positive energy and have beautiful smiles.

Nadya Photo 3

4th day debrief session with Adnan at Kerry Park.The view was uh-mazing!

But guess what, my respect and love for each and every one of them goes beyond what they do and extends to the beauty of who they truly are.

First and foremost, my batch folks. Dino is the techie guy who is committed to capture every moment with his camera. The tripod and some memory cards can speak on his behalf. Hendri is the compassionate young man whose positive energy is just contagious. Mirah is the caring person who always made sure that I didn’t feel cold due to one layer I wore. Nobody asked me the way Mirah did. While Nadine, her love for environment is so big, so much so that every time she talks about it I feel like the responsibility of taking a very good care of the environment is mounting on my shoulders. And I think it’s good. I’m so looking forward to collaborate with her and her team.

Not to mention, the mentors, the coaches, the professors, the lecturers, the businesses, the NGOs, the host families, and the people in Jolkona.

In the middle of the packed schedule, Heide Felton is the loving woman who messaged me in the middle of the night not only to check my assignments’ progress but also to ask what my plans for the weekends are—just so she knows I’d make the best of my stay in Seattle. I love her.

Nadya Photo 5

Last meeting with Heide. Her words touched me deeply.

[…]

For all the lessons which each and every one of them has shared, I’m thankful and wishing the very best for all of their endeavors.

2nd meeting with Charles. Always full of food... for thought.

2nd meeting with Charles. Always full of food… for thought.

I have couple of hours to get back to work (it’s almost 5 in the morning, and my jet lag still got me wide awake) and I hope to make sense of what I just made sense of by sharing my experience with my team soon.

Again, big big thanks, for sure, to everyone who was involved in this program (as well the US Department in Indonesia), and I look forward to stay in touch!

Let’s keep the momentum going.

This blog post was originally posted on Nadya Fadila Saib’s personal blog, which you can view here. Blog republished with permission. 

 

Jolkona Catalyst has opened its application cycle for its Fall 2015 accelerator! From October 19 to November 6, 2015, we will invite 16 young entrepreneurs from Bangladesh and Indonesia for an intensive three-week accelerator. We are looking for Bangladesh and Indonesia’s most promising social entrepreneurs working towards bettering their country. Know an entrepreneur in Bangladesh that fits this criteria? Please forward them this information!

APPLY TODAY

What is Jolkona Catalyst? Jolkona is a nonprofit that brings high potential social entrepreneurs from emerging countries to Seattle for an intensive 3-week mentor-driven accelerator. These entrepreneurs are solving some of the most challenging societal issues in their communities. Our mentors include some of Seattle’s best startup talent who prepare these founders to scale and engage with investors at home & abroad.

Ferdous Mottakin pitching for Offroad Bangladesh, an online travel platform working to make Bangladesh a more accessible travel destination.

Ferdous Mottakin pitching for Offroad Bangladesh during the Spring 2015 Showcase.

Catalyst enjoying dinner and networking after the event.

Catalyst enjoying dinner and networking after the Spring 2015 Showcase.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want more information? Please direct all questions to catalyst@jolkona.org.  Application Deadline is 8/7 at 23:59 PST.

On May 5, we closed out our third Jolkona Catalyst accelerator with a culmination PitchFest at the WeWork Coworking Office in South Lake Union. Jolkona Catalyst is an intensive, three-week accelerator for entrepreneurs from emerging countries. For our spring cohort, eight of the most promising entrepreneurs from Bangladesh traveled to Seattle for three weeks of mentor-based training and pitch coaching.

Our Catalyst entrepreneurs pitched their ventures in front of the Seattle social entrepreneurship community with fast, three-minute pitches. Their presentations were then judged by a panel of experts who provided feedback. Our judges included: Boris Jabes, co-founder of Meldium (acquired by LogMeIn); Jason Preston, co-founder of Dent the Future; and Janis Machala, Managing Partner of Paladin Partners.

After, our friends and supporters joined our Catalysts for a delicious Bangladeshi meal and networking. A big thank you to everyone who joined us for this inspirational evening! Interested in learning more about our Catalysts and their ventures? Visit our dedicated Catalyst page.

Couldn’t make it to the event? Keep scrolling for photo highlights from the Showcase! 

Shazeeb Islam presenting

Shazeeb Islam pitching for Social Business Youth Alliance, a social enterprise supporting youth leadership through entrepreneurship training.

Ferdous Mottakin pitching for Offroad Bangladesh, an online travel platform working to make Bangladesh a more accessible travel destination.

Ferdous Mottakin pitching for Offroad Bangladesh, an online travel platform working to make Bangladesh a more accessible travel destination.

Catalyst enjoying dinner and networking after the event.

Catalyst enjoying dinner and networking after the event.

Dr. Neelima Das (center) with Jolkona Board member, Heide Felton (left) and Dan Kranzler, Jolkona pitch coach

Dr. Neelima Das (center) with Jolkona Board president, Heide Felton (left) and Dan Kranzler (right), Jolkona pitch coach

Fiona Khandoker, CEO of TrainedBD, and Debojit Saha Shurokka, who were the winners of Audience and Judges Choice respectively.

Fiona Khandoker, CEO of TrainedBD, and Debojit Saha, CEO of Shurokka, were the winners of Judges and Audience Choice Awards respectively.

Keep up with everything Jolkona by following us on Facebook and Twitter

Our eight entrepreneurs from Bangladesh have arrived for the Spring 2015 Jolkona Catalyst program. Jolkona Catalyst is a three-week, mentor driven accelerator program designed for entrepreneurs from emerging countries. During the next three weeks, they will work with mentors and coaches to hone their business models and learn how to scale their impact.

Our eight entrepreneur feature is Ferdous Mottakin, Founder & CEO of Offroad Bangladesh. Offroad Bangladesh is a crowd-sourced platform that engages international travelers and connects them to destinations in Bangladesh and services provided by locals.

Ferdous Mottakin’s Bio 

FerdousFerdous has travelled throughout much of Bangladesh. He is proud of the beauty and rich history that Bangladesh had to offer and yet found that information about the wonderful places he visited is not readily available. As he got to know various areas of the country and the people who lived there, he felt these areas would greatly benefit from an increase in tourism and that this increase would ultimately help lift their economy.

Ferdous started Offroad Bangladesh, a crowd-sourced platform that engages travelers and connects them to destinations throughout Bangladesh and to services provided by locals. In doing so, he hopes this will mean new income sources and in particular will give youths of this area a chance to engage in these economic activities giving them opportunities that would only be available if they left their communities.

Ferdous holds a Bachelors degree in Electronics Engineering from Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC. Aside from his love of travel, Ferdous also enjoys checking out new movies and spending time with his 3-year-old son.

Our eight entrepreneurs from Bangladesh have arrived for the Spring 2015 Jolkona Catalyst program. Jolkona Catalyst is a three-week, mentor driven accelerator program designed for entrepreneurs from emerging countries. During the next three weeks, they will work with mentors and coaches to hone their business models and learn how to scale their impact.

Our seventh entrepreneur feature is Shazeeb Islam, Founder & CEO of Social Business Youth Alliance Global. Social Business Youth Alliance Global is a non-profit organization designed to train youths interested in launching their own ventures.

Shazeeb Islam’s Bio 

Khairul IslamDuring his time in university, Shazeeb was greatly inspired by the work of Dr. Muhammad Yunus and the concept of social businesses that strive to solve societal issues in a sustainable way.

In 2013, he and seven other students who shared his passion created Social Business Youth Alliance Global, a non-profit organization that trains youths interested in launching social businesses.

To date they have inspired more than 2000 young people and have helped launch 3 successful social businesses.

Shazeeb Islam holds a Masters in Business Administration from University of Dhaka. You may find Shazeeb playing cricket on his free time and visiting new places.

Follow us on Facebook and on Twitter @jolkona for updates as their accelerator begins!

Our eight entrepreneurs from Bangladesh have arrived for the Spring 2015 Jolkona Catalyst program. Jolkona Catalyst is a three-week, mentor driven accelerator program designed for entrepreneurs from emerging countries. During the next three weeks, they will work with mentors and coaches to hone their business models and learn how to scale their impact.

Our sixth entrepreneur is Dr. Neelima Das, CEO of the Green Emancipation. The Green Emancipation promotes healthier living and to lift families out of poverty.

Dr. Neelima Das’ Bio 

Neelima2As a public health professional, Dr. Das has a keen interest in bringing to light the significant role natural medicine can have in improving the lives of families who have little or no income. Apart from the health benefits of employing natural medicine in preventive care and as treatment for other ailments, growing the herbs and plants used in these natural medicines provides an entrepreneurial opportunity and source of income to many poor families in Bangladesh.

Dr. Das founded Green Emancipation to promote healthier living and to lift families out of poverty. She and her team have spent the past few months compiling needed research and information on plants, herbs and growing methods and plan to make it available on their online platform and future smart phone app.

Dr. Neelima Das has a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery degree from Rajshahi Medical College, Rajshahi University. She also holds a Master of Health informatics and Master of Public Health degree. She enjoys listening to music and singing and has had guest appearances on radio talk shows to speak on topics related to health and development.

Follow us on Facebook and on Twitter @jolkona for updates as their accelerator begins!

Our eight entrepreneurs from Bangladesh have arrived for the Spring 2015 Jolkona Catalyst program. Jolkona Catalyst is a three-week, mentor driven accelerator program designed for entrepreneurs from emerging countries. During the next three weeks, they will work with mentors and coaches to hone their business models and learn how to scale their impact.

Our fifth entrepreneur feature is Mehraab A. Anwar, Vice President of Footsteps Foundation. Footsteps Foundation is a youth-based volunteer organization whose mission is to empower youth in Bangladesh to improve their communities. 

Mehraab A. Anwar’s Bio 

Mehraab AnwarMehraab, our youngest Catalyst, is proud to be representing an organization whose mission is to empower the youth in Bangladesh to improve their communities. At a young age, he saw firsthand the illness that resulted from lack of clean water and which motivates him to find more youths who want to actively create change.

Footsteps reaches out to youths and trains them to engage in events and initiatives that tackle important social, national, environmental issues. Through his work with Footsteps, Mehraab hopes to set an example for others who aspire to have a positive impact in Bangladesh.

Mehraab Alam attended University of South Florida majoring in marketing and management. He is currently taking a short break to focus on Footsteps. Mehraab enjoys many hobbies and can be seen behind a camera taking pictures or video or engaging in public speaking to share his experiences with others.

Follow us on Facebook and on Twitter @jolkona for updates as their accelerator begins!

Our eight entrepreneurs from Bangladesh have arrived for the Spring 2015 Jolkona Catalyst program. Jolkona Catalyst is a three-week, mentor driven accelerator program designed for entrepreneurs from emerging countries. During the next three weeks, they will work with mentors and coaches to hone their business models and learn how to scale their impact.

Our third entrepreneur feature is Debojit Saha, Co-Founder & CEO of Shurokka. Shurokka makes low-cost, high-quality disposable sanitary napkins that are subsidized by garment factory owners and distributed by approachable women who also provide valuable education related to personal hygiene to female factory workers.

Debojit Saha’s Bio 

debojit sahaDebojit was running a market research firm while pursuing Bachelors in Business Administration degree at Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka.  One of his projects at the firm was to study the cost efficiency of Ready Made Garment (RMG) factories in Bangladesh.

During his research he visited various RMG factories and he found that women had the highest rates of absenteeism, further investigation uncovered a significant issue that afflicts all female garment workers. The high cost of sanitary products often dispensed at male run stores led female garment workers to make their own sanitary pads from remnant fabric.

These makeshift solutions are not properly washed or dried causing infection or other issues that prevent them from going to work. Debojit wanted to solve this problem and he eventually co-founded Shurokka, which makes low-cost, high-quality disposable sanitary napkins that are subsidized by garment factory owners and distributed by approachable women who also provide valuable education related to personal hygiene to female factory workers.

Debojit holds a Bachelors of Business Administration degree from the University of Dhaka with a major in finance and a minor in marketing. When he can find some free time, Debojit enjoys traveling and photography as well as exploring new restaurants with friends.

Follow us on Facebook and on Twitter @jolkona for updates as their accelerator begins!

Our eight entrepreneurs from Bangladesh have arrived for the Spring 2015 Jolkona Catalyst program. Jolkona Catalyst is a three-week, mentor driven accelerator program designed for entrepreneurs from emerging countries. During the next three weeks, they will work with mentors and coaches to hone their business models and learn how to scale their impact.

Our second entrepreneur feature is Ataur Rahman, Founder & CEO of Amar Desh Amar Gram (“my country, my village”). Amar Desh Amar Gram puts the power of technology directly into the hands of farmers by providing eommerce training and an online marketplace for them to sell their goods.

Ataur Rahman’s Bio 

atuar rahmanAtaur studied Computer Networking at University of Bedforshire in England but wanted to apply his skills in a meaningful way.

Upon returning to Bangladesh in 2009, he worked with minority groups of independent farmers and village producers providing low cost ecommerce services. With a mission to reduce poverty in villages outside of Dhaka, Ataur founded his venture.

By setting up needed information and communication technology in these villages and establishing training centers that are run by local youth, Amar Desh Amar Gram puts the power of technology directly into the hands of farmers and their families providing ecommerce training and an online marketplace for them to sell their goods.

Ataur Rahman holds a Bachelors of Science Honors degree from University of Bedfordshire. He enjoys doing research and learning from subject matter experts as well as traveling and spending time with family

Follow us on Facebook and on Twitter @jolkona for updates as their accelerator begins!

Our eight entrepreneurs from Bangladesh have arrived for the Spring 2015 Jolkona Catalyst program. Jolkona Catalyst is a three-week, mentor driven accelerator program designed for entrepreneurs from emerging countries. During the next three weeks, they will work with mentors and coaches to hone their business models and to learn how to scale their impact.

Stay tuned as we introduce you to our first cohort from Bangladesh! 

Our first entrepreneur feature is Adnan Hossain, CEO & Founder of It’s Humanity Foundation. It’s Humanity Foundation is a non-profit focused on providing free basic education to underprivileged children and business training to adults that allows them to transform a crafting skill into a viable source of income.

Adnan Hossain’s BioAdnan Hossain's Profile Picture
Since his youth, Adnan’s family had a tradition of distributing winter clothing to remote villages in Bangladesh. On one of his trips to a northern village of Bangladesh he met a woman and was impressed by her traditional handmade crafts. He got to know others in that village with the same skills that made these beautiful handmade goods as a pastime.

Adnan learned that these talented crafters did not have the means to send their children to school and was prompted to start his venture.

Adnan Hossain holds a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from BRAC University with a major in marketing and a minor in human resource management. In his spare time he enjoys traveling, reading and learning about history, culture and food.

Follow us on Facebook and on Twitter @jolkona for updates as their accelerator begins!

I am a 2010 Pacific Lutheran University graduate who since then has done a year of Americorps, traveled extensively, and most recently worked for three years as a care advocate at Lifelong, a local non-profit that provides services to individuals with HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses. I have begun making a transition from direct services to indirect services with non-profits and being an event intern for Jolkona Catalyst is part of that transition. I am also currently fundraising with Social Justice Fund Northwest and supporting the logistics/event planning of two other non-profit fundraisers. When I’m not event planning or fundraising, I am serving delicious food at Shaker + Spear, a new seafood and cocktail restaurant in downtown Seattle or out hiking in the Cascades.

We’re excited to be working with Bangladesh this year and thought it would be a great time to share some information about the country as we prepare to welcome them to our program.

A smaller country between India and Burma, Bangladesh formed as a newly independent nation in 1971. Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated nations in the world; with over 159 million people the country hosts a richly diverse population. Bangladesh combines a long changing history of the area with new traditions to create a unique blend of culture. Influences from Buddhism, Hinduism and mostly Islam shape the values, holidays and diversity of the country. In addition to festivals and holidays that celebrate religious occasions, there are national celebrations that boast participants from the whole country. These include Independence day, Victory day, and National Martyr’s day. Each of these holidays highlight the impact and everlasting importance of independence for the people of Bangladesh as well as the struggles that the people went through to gain their freedom.

2014 Independence day, setting world record for singing national anthem (india.com)

The largest industry in Bangladesh is currently agriculture. There is a large effort to increase industry in the country. Not only would it help the poverty rates in the nation it would create a wider variety of services and job options for the diverse population of Bangladesh. Already over the past few years there has been an increase in health and education. Despite these growth and improvement efforts many people, particularly in rural areas are still experiencing all the struggles of being part of a new and developing nation.

The candidates we have heard from are all trying to do their part to impact lives in Bangladesh with creative solutions. From creating businesses that are addressing basic education needs to those that are connecting people to employment opportunities, these entrepreneurs have the experience to create exactly what people of their country need in order to experience the greatest benefits.

Sources:

http://www.virtualbangladesh.com/

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-12650940

http://us.india.com/loudspeaker/bangladesh-sets-national-anthem-chorus-singing-guinness-record-28866/

Well it all started at the ripe old age of five when I declared my career path as an artist. Since then I went on to graduate as a super-duper senior from Western Washington University with a double major in Graphic Design and Creative Writing, and now I’m working in the greater Seattle area as freelance designer and interning with Jolkona (and working in retail to pay the bills, but that’s beside the point). I love designing for print, and that’s what I get to do at Jolkona! My goal is to work in the publishing industry so that I can bring together my two loves: design and books.

I graduated from Goucher College in May 2014 with a double major in Anthropology/Sociology and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. I participated in several clubs and activities including spending a couple semesters as president of the feminist club on campus. I currently work at Marbles the Brain Store as a “BrainCoach”. I started at Jolkona to get experience in nonprofit work and am excited to now be an executive assistant.

I am currently a student at the University of Washington-Seattle Campus and will be graduating in March, double majoring in Art and Math. Now I am working for Jolkona as graphic design intern and helping them with the design of media kits that include posters and program flyers.  I’ve also done work for some Seattle start-up companies designing their web and mobile interfaces using Photoshop and Illustrator.

GET INVOLVED!