Announcing our Fall’15 Catalysts!

Jolkona has been hard at work this summer identifying our new cohort of social entrepreneurs from Indonesia and Bangladesh for the Jolkona Catalyst Program. We received 160 applications and sixteen Catalysts were selected to make a long journey to Seattle to work with some of Seattle’s brightest minds. Over the course of three weeks they are paired with mentors, coaches, instructors and other subject matter experts to hone their business models and to learn how to scale their impact.

We are so thrilled to welcome our first multi-country cohort of inspiring social leaders this fall. Please join us in welcoming this diverse group of 16 talented individuals!

Reserve your space now for the Fall’15 Jolkona Catalyst Showcase! This is your chance to meet these inspiring young leaders and to hear more about the great work they’re doing at home.  Register here.

Bangladesh Catalysts


Souvik Aswad, Chief Growth Officer, Panacea Souvik Aswad, Headshot

Twitter: @souvikaswad


Counterfeit prescription are a big problem in Bangladesh. The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 10 percent of all drugs sold worldwide are fake. And a recent study says 100,000 people die each year from taking fake medicine. Bangladesh’s government says at least ten percent of the medicine sold in pharmacies across the country are fake. That’s 1 in every 20 prescriptions.

Panacea prints a unique alphanumeric code on every medicine strip of a pharmaceutical brand, which consumers can check with an SMS, mobile app or website. With Panacea every medicine strip is unique and accounted for. This limits a counterfeiters’ ability to mass copy medicine packaging and puts the power of verification in the hands of the consumers.


Arif Md. Waliullah Bhiyan (Wali), CEO, Light of Hope Arif Wali, Photo


Twitter: @wali1929

Light of Hope is a tech-based non-profit delivering innovative & sustainable solutions for rural schools in Bangladesh. ‘Light of Hope’ aims to improve the quality of primary education in Bangladesh through innovative technology projects. They currently have set up four “Digital Schools” – low cost, solar run classrooms with laptops in rural parts of Bangladesh.


Zia Hassan Siddique, Director and CEO, Greenergy Solutions Zia Hassan Siddique Photo


Greenergy Solutions Limited supports and incubates energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives that leverage solar, wind, or hybrid to create solutions for agriculture communities.

As an engineering and consulting firm they are designing solar powered irrigations systems, solar powered refrigeration solutions and solar powered mini-grids. These solutions are designed to be low cost and accessible to members of the rural communities they serve.


Faraiba Farnan, Co-Founder, Sneho Faraiba Farnan


Twitter: @faraiba_farnan

Sneho is focused on reducing school drop-out rates in the urban slums of Bangladesh. Sneho’s field tested solution involves distributing ‘Durable Learning Mat’ and donated books and toys to families. For parents in these urban slums, the education of their children often is not viewed as non-negotiable. By incorporating regular sessions with the parents alongside the use of the learning mat Sneho hopes to shape the mindset of parents showing them how even a small amount of learning can impact the future of their children. The Sneho learning mat is a simple but powerful solution that will excite children about learning. Sneho is securing partnerships with key organizations and corporations that will sponsor the mats and their distribution.


Armin Khan, Founder, ZappyUpArmin Khan Photo


ZappyUp is an e-commerce platform that connects skilled women who provide beauty and wellness services to customers. ZappyUp seeks to empower women to be successful entrepreneurs by making it easy for customers to book appointments with them for beauty and wellness services. Each year, a large number of women, mainly from the low-middle to middle income bracket, enroll in beauty and wellness training programs such as hairdressing, make up art, yoga, and physical training. These skills can increase their income so they can earn a living wage. Unfortunately, finding employment or clients is difficult and many “drop out” of their dreams. ZappyUp will give women the tools to become independent and successful business women who are able to earn a living doing what they love.


Eve Karim, Founder and Director, Authentic Method of Alternative Learning (AMAL) Eve Karim Headshot


AMAL has been running for the past four years and have supported more than 350 underprivileged children. Through focused projects they have worked with children rescued from brothels, children who have not benefitted from even the most basic education, and children who don’t have access to basic health services. AMAL has been able to earn the trust of families and have trained a number of volunteers to work directly with them. Children are learning skills to make handmade crafts that can in turn provide a small income that AMAL hopes will be enough to keep them from illegal or dangerous forms of earning money. AMAL has set up a few production centers that also offer children the opportunity to be part of a caring community that encourages them to set their sights on a better future.


Abdullah Al Mahmud, Editor, Zero to Infinity Abdullah Al Mahmud, Photo


Twitter: @mahmudzero2inf

From a simple Facebook group, Zero to Infinity grew into Bangladesh’s largest scientific community. Zero to Infinity now publishes the only monthly Bengali science magazine in Bangladesh with a readership of over 100k readers.

Their success led to the creation of a math based publication. Zero to Infinity is making math and science exciting and hopes to encourage students to enroll in more science and math classes. They have partnered with the Information Ministry and Ministry of Science & Technology in Bangladesh to serve as knowledge partner or to arrange science, math and coding workshops and camps that encourages both boys and girls to join.


Indonesia Catalysts


Felecia, Co-Founder, Makarios Kreasindo Felecia Ong, Photo

Marici is introducing the world to the beauty and sophistication of Indonesian designs in the form of handcrafted fashion accessories. Marici is fueled by a powerful mission to empower Indonesian women with new job skills and with safe and sustainable employment.

Marici is optimistic about the long term effects they will have in paving the way for a better quality of life for these women and their families.


Radyum Ikono, Founder and COO, Nanocenter Indonesia 

Radyum, Photo


Twitter: @radyum


Nano Center Indonesia conducts research and education in nanotechnology and incubate initiatives that uniquely apply nanotechnology to solve important national or global issues. For example, they have found a way to recycle industrial waste from steel mills using it to make an iron oxide pigments that can be used as a coloring agent in things like paint, fertilizer and ceramics. Nano Center Indonesia is embarking on an exciting journey to spark innovation in the creation of new products, medicines and materials. In addition to the research, they are conducting educational workshops that will feed the public’s imagination.


Marsya Anggia, Director, Indorelawan Marsya Anggia, Picture


Twitter: @marsyamars

Indorelawan is an online platform that connects people looking for meaningful activities with nonprofit organizations and communities that are searching for volunteers to help them achieve their social missions. Indorelawan raises awarness about the rewarding experiences that can be had by volunteers who share their talent and gives them the opportunity to transform goodwill into positive action at scale.


Taufik Hidayat, Vice CEO, Genteng Traditional Healthy Market Taufik Hidayat, Photo

Twitter: @taufik10121989

Genteng traditional Healthy Market has helped more than 367 poor farmers and over 200 households in Genteng village (West Java Province, Indonesia) to have better options for the sale of their products. Rather than turning to third party sellers who charge steep fees and commissions to transport products to the larger city centers, Genteng Healthy Market gives farmers and households the chance to sell locally and increase their income creating more vibrant rural communities.



Neng Niawati, CEO, Limbahagia 

Neng Niawati, Headshot


Twitter: @novintt

Limbahagia encourages people to view waste in a new way. Pollution in the form of plastic is a major problem in the cities of Indonesia. Limbahagia are currently developing a mobile application and system to facilitate the recycling process. Individuals are trained to create recycling businesses leveraging these tools so that they may play an active role in cleaning up their cities in a sustainable way.




Timotius Wong, CEO, Synergy Academy Timotius Wong, Picture


Twitter: @timotiuswong

Since 2013, Synergy Entrepreneur Academy has inspired thousands of Indonesian youths and has helped hundreds of them to become the real entrepreneurs.

Through the education and motivation provided in their overnight boot-camps, youths gain a better understanding of what it takes to get started. Synergy Entrepreneur Academy provides continual support by organizing business camps where they share practical strategies that will help them be successful.


Hayyu Widiatma Sakya, Business Director, ADHMORA ABHINAYA PRANA Hayyu Sakya, Picture


Adhmora provides energy solutions from energy monitoring to financing energy conservation program. They have two main projects: Chiller Smart Management System and their Energy Saving Championship in Bandung, Indonesia.

They believe the hub to sustainable development is energy conservation. To reach the goal of energy conservation Admora educates people about the importance of wise energy consumption and even makes energy saving fun through their championship program.


Ronaldiaz, PhotoRonaldiaz Hartantyo, Founder, Ideas Indonesia

Ideas Indonesia partners with local farmers to change the perception of Indonesian agriculture by transforming rural communities into eco-tourism destinations. They collaborate with Indonesian farmers to make their farms not only a place of production, but also an eco-tourism and education destination. Ideas Indonesia’s mission comes from the simple idea of trying to make agriculture cool for a new generation.

Despite Indonesia having an abundance of natural potential with fertile soil and a great climate, agriculture seems to a business designated to poor communities. Ideas Indonesia wants to show the nation’s young people that there are many fun and engaging benefits that come with working in the agriculture sector.


Meet the Social Entrepreneurs of the Cohort 1 (June ’14)!

Jolkona hosted five social entrepreneurs from different parts of Indonesia for the Jolkona Catalyst pilot program in Seattle from June 9th to June 20th, 2014 in collaboration with the US Embassy in Jakarta. Besides enjoying the gorgeous Seattle summer, Cohort 1 worked on their business plans, gained valuable insights, and met prospective investors.


Nadine Zamira HeadshotNadine Zamira

LeafPlus is communications agency with sustainability at the heart of their work. LeafPlus believes that good communications is about inspiring perceptions, emotions and actions that benefit people and the planet too. LeafPlus works with government agencies, businesses, NGOs, schools and communities to identify their sustainability objectives and translate complex concepts into creative, engaging and easily shared stories. LeafPlus goes beyond advising to deliver implementation and impact.

Watch Nadine’s pitch at Showcase event.



Dino Firtriza HeadshotDino Fitriza

Dino’s projects have a common theme around climate change. They serve to encourage people to modify their behaviors toward the environment. Vertesac is a smart shopping bag system designed to track consumer use of reusable bags and offer discounts to users. By giving economic incentives to Vertesac bag users, the project aims to reduce the excessive use of plastic bags.

Watch Dino’s pitch at Showcase event.



Mirah Mahaswari HeadshotMirah Mahaswari

To promote literacy rate in Indonesia and instill passion for reading, Pack Your Spirit collects children’s used-books, host community events for packaging, and coordinates their transportation to remote schools in the villages of east Borneo. It is currently working on a project to assist Balikpapan’s Public Library with community development.

Watch Mirah’s pitch at Showcase event.




Hendriyadi Bahtiar HeadshotHendriyadi Bahtiar

The Healthy Shredded Fish not only produces an Indonesian national snack, but is a campaign for healthier lifestyles, because the shredded fish does not contain MSG. In addition, the project employs fishermen’s wives in coastal areas in South Sulawesi, which helps increase income and to reduce poverty in the area.

Watch Hendriyadi’s pitch at Showcase event.




Nadya Saib HeadshotNadya Saib

While Wangsa Jelita produces non-toxic, natural personal care products to address environmental issues of waste, it empowers local farmers and artisans as well. The project provides fair trade and community development, especially to women in the rose farming community in West Java, and collaborates with local artisans to create environmentally-friendly packaging.

Watch Nadya’s pitch at Showcase event.

Meet the Social Entrepreneurs of Cohort 2 (Nov’14)!

 Jolkona hosted five young social entrepreneurs from Nov 3-Nov 14, 2014 for our second cohort of Jolkona Catalyst in collaboration with US Embassy in Jakarta. Cohort 2 attended workshops to refine their social entrepreneurship business, met the Seattle Start-up community and learned to pitch to investors.

Candra Cahyani Gani HeadshotCandra Cahyani Gani

Twitter: @CandraGani

Social Venture: Bedah Campus

Bedah Campus promotes higher education to the high school students in remote area through online mentorship. This two year old venture operates in Lampung province and has more than 570 mentees and 150 mentors. Candra and her team organize roadshows in different schools to recruit high school students to join as mentees. Then they recruit university students to volunteer as a mentor and find professionals to be foster parents of the mentees. Bedah Campus is partially funded with the profit of a separate business – a language center, also run by Candra and her team.

In the next five years, Candra wants to reach 33 provinces in Indonesia and scale the language center so that its profit can fully support Bedah Campus.

Watch Candra’s Showcase Event Pitch and Elevator Pitch


Dini Hajarrahmah HeadshotDini Hajarrahmah

Twitter: @DiniDreaming

Social Venture: Wanderlust Indonesia

Wanderlust Indonesia is an ecotourism company that offers tours where travel activities are combined with volunteering services to locals based on their needs. So far, it has hosted tours in Krakatau Mountain, Labuan Bajo, Tanjung Puting, and urban Jakarta where about 100 ‘Wanderers’ got to meet the locals, understand the local values and customs while traveling, and leave behind a positive footprint through volunteering or sponsoring a child’s education.

In Krakatau Mountain, besides snorkeling and hiking, Wanderers get to complete a project like teaching a chapter from Wanderlust’s curriculum for students or teaching English to guides.

In the next two years, Dini plans to expand to 5 other islands/conservations and to villages and slum area with literacy, fair trade, sanitation, and waste management programs.

Watch Dini’s Showcase Event Pitch and Elevator Pitch


Alfi Irfan Headshot

Alfi Irfan

Twitter: @AlfiIrfan


Social Venture: AgriSocio

AgriSocio works to reduce poverty and empower villages by giving farmers and housewives access to technology, capital, and market. AgriSocio formulated a method called Penta movements- entrepreneurs and sociopreneurs come in a profit-sharing mechanism working towards better price for products and stable market; edupreneurs and technopreneurs improve the quality of rural farming workforce; ecopreneurshelp do the farming in an environmentally-responsible manner. It is running this program in Benteng village and marketing its own product called “IndoRempah” which sells a 1000 units every month.

It employs housewives in processing of IndoRempah. Alfi plans to go into 17 more villages, launch two more products, reach 10,000 farmers and employ 500 women in the next two years.

Watch Alfi’s Elevator Pitch


Nancy Margried HeadshotNancy Margried

Twitter: @nancymargried

Social Venture: Piksel Indonesia – Batik Fractal

Piksel Indonesia provides technology and design training and alternative market access for traditional batik artisans in Indonesia through affordable jBatik software and online selling platform – Batik Fractal. Batik Fractal is a fashion product made by jBatik software developed by Nancy and her team that processes mathematical algorithm into unique batik patterns.

They have trained 1000 batik artisans to use their software in rural areas. Now, they are opening a cooperative for unskilled women and teenagers living in slum areas. They provide design, batik making, sewing and craft making training for them.

Nancy’s future plan is to reach 55 million small and medium enterprises in Indonesia with her products and create jBatik curriculum for high school and vocational schools.

Watch Nancy’s Elevator Pitch


M. Alfatih Timur HeadshotM. Alfatih Timur

Twitter: @alfatihtimur


Social Venture: is Indonesia’s pioneer crowdfunding platform for social causes and innovation. Alfatih started it officially in July 2013, and during its first year of operation, it received more than 100 projects of which 66 were featured, and 27 were successfully funded collecting more than 1 billion rupiah ($100,000).

Kitabisa has two types of customers – the ‘Project Idea Owner” (change-maker) who needs resources; and the “Resources Owner” who wants to supply resources to support good deed projects.

For the former, it delivers access to donation, and social media publicity; for the latter, it delivers social project report and rewards such as souvenir, personal letter from the end target of the project, etc. Alfatih’s next goal is to fund more than 75 projects and collect $500,000 in funding.

Watch Alfatih’s Showcase Event Pitch and Elevator Pitch

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. 


Meet the Social Entrepreneurs of Cohort 3 (May ’15)!

 Jolkona hosted eight Bangladeshi social entrepreneurs from April 19 to May 8, 2015 for our third cohort of Jolkona Catalyst in collaboration with the US Embassy in Dhaka. Cohort 3 attended workshops to refine their business, met the Seattle Start-up community and learned to pitch to investors.


Adnan Hossain, CEO & Founder, It's Humanity Foundation

Adnan Hossain, CEO & Founder, It’s Humanity Foundation

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. 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 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.


atuar rahman

Ataur Rahman, Founder & CEO
Amar Desh Amar Gram

Ataur 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.


debojit saha

Debojit Saha, Co-founder & CEO

Debojit was running a market research firm while pursuing Bachelors in BusinessAdministration 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 inBangladesh. 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 make shift 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.


Mehraab Anwar

Mehraab A. Anwar, Vice President
Footsteps Foundation

Footsteps Foundation is a youth-based volunteer organization. Mehraab, our youngest Catalyst,is proud to representing an organization whose mission it is to empower the youth inBangladesh to pave the way for improving their communities. At a young age, he saw the illnesses that resulted from lack of clean water in some communities, 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.


Neelima Das

Dr. Neelima Das, CEO & Founder
Green Emancipation

As 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 MedicalCollege, 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.


Shazeeb Islam

Shazeeb Islam, Founder & CEO
Social Business Youth Alliance – Global

During his time in university, Shazeeb was inspired by the work of Dr. Muhammad Yunus and the concept of 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 he enjoys visiting new places.




Ferdous Mottakin

Ferdous Mottakin, Founder & CEO
Offroad Bangladesh

Ferdous has had the opportunity to travel throughout much of Bangladesh. He was proud of the beauty and rich history that Bangladesh had to offer and yet found that information about the wonderful places he visited was not readily available. As he got to know various regions of the country and the people who lived there, he felt many would benefit from an increase in tourism, which could help lift their economy. Ferdous started Offroad Bangladesh, a crowd-sourced platform that engages travelers and connects them to destinations throughoutBangladesh and to services provided by locals who live in these areas. In doing so, he hopes this will mean new income sources and give locals access to opportunities that would only be available if they left their communities.

Ferdous Mottakin 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.


The founder of traveled throughout Bangladesh as a Research Assistant at the International Food Policy Research Institute, which put her in touch with some of the most underprivileged members of society. She realized that a lack of stable employment was to blame for many of their hardships. Following these experiences, she analyzed the Bangladeshi labor market and found systemic inefficiencies that exacerbated unemployment and underemployment rates. She set out to find a solution to disrupt this ineffective cycle. She and her business partner are now working on TrainedBD, an online platform that connects trained manual laborers with employers. They will be increasing the chance of a good fit by helping low and semi-skilled workers find stable jobs with reputable employers.

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!

by Kirsten Eldridge, Jolkona Volunteer


The program participants received an exciting and hands-on introduction to Design Thinking this week with Zachary Smith.  This quick-paced workshop helped the entrepreneurs approach their ventures with a fresh mindset and also gave them an opportunity to get to know their peers better.

Zachary Smith workshopA technology leader with more than 18 years of product development and client services experience, Zachary has worked with a wide range of industries and organizations including startups, Wall Street banks, automotive manufacturers, enterprise software platform providers, and large consulting agencies.  Zachary is co-founder of the Seattle Design Thinking & Innovation Collective, an organization with over 1200 active members focused on creating a network of innovators in the Seattle area and teaching Design Thinking through immersive and experiential activities.

Zachary Smith workshopA highlight of the workshop was the first activity.  The entrepreneurs were paired up and instructed to stand back-to-back as they listened to a song.  Next, the participants described what the song made them feel to their partners.  After listening, the partners shared the experiences with the group as if they were their own.

In the next activity, the participants were tasked with interviewing their partner about their morning commute and then redesigning the commute based on their research.  Zachary encouraged the Catalysts to “dig deep” and listen carefully in their interviews.  Perhaps it is not the commute that is the problem, but an uncomfortable car seat or other factor.

Zachary Smith workshopBoth of these activities got the Catalysts ready to approach problems in their ventures and their communities in new ways.  They prepared the entrepreneurs to learn about Design Thinking and how it is applicable to the challenge of innovation.  We’re excited to see how they use what they learned with Zachary to prepare for their final Showcase!  Don’t forget to register for our Jolkona Catalyst Showcase on November 11th in historic Pioneer Square. Click here to RSVP!

Project Catalyst 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 and abroad.

Be sure to like Jolkona on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

In our second Alumni Highlight, we’re sharing the story of Dini Hajarrahmah, CEO of WanderlustOn her blog, Dini shares her experience of going through Jolkona Catalyst after just returning to her home country of Indonesia. Dini was part of our second Jolkona Catalyst cohort from Indonesia in November 2014! 

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

Last month in November 2014, I was lucky to be one of the selected 5 Social Entrepreneurs from Indonesia that got a chance to go to Seattle joining “Jolkona Catalyst” program by Jolkona and the US Embassy in Jakarta.

Jolkona Catalyst Cohort 2 in Seattle

Jolkona Catalyst Cohort 2 in Seattle

I said we are lucky because they have only had 2 batches (each batch consist of 5 Social Entrepreneurs) from Indonesia! The next batch in 2015 will be from Bangladesh! We were selected from around 70 applicants that submitted the application online. I bring Wanderlust Indonesia, my social business started 1 year ago in creating a unique & responsible traveling experience by connecting traveler and local through volunteering activity. The other 4 social entrepreneurs are

1. Alfatih Timur – Founder of

2. Nancy Margried – Founder of Batik Fractal

3. Alfi Irfan – Founder of AgriSocio

4. Candra Cahyani Gani – Founder of Bedah Kampus

To me, These amazing 4 people is now feel like part of my family after spending the very cold weeks for us together in Seattle 🙂

What is actually this program all about? Jolkona Catalyst designed to escalate social business from developing country and leverage the impact of social entrepreneurship by bringing social entrepreneur from developing country to Seattle, to learn about social business, meet prospective investors, and network. They put us through two weeks of intensive training, mentoring, and networking to bring our social mission driven startup to the next level. We attend workshops to refine our business, met the Seattle Start-up community, visit some successful company like Google, Microsoft and learnt to pitch to investors.

Our 2 weeks in Seattle curriculum basically led to this final event that they call “Showcase Event” which we have 5 minutes to pitch our social business in front of the audience in Seattle.

1st Week – Build Business Plan

We have a very packed schedule during the 1st week to understand our business deeply, defining our vision and mission statement again, explaining it in elevator pitch so many times to different people and the most important thing, meet a lot of amazing people as our workshop lectures, pitch coaches, and lovely MENTOR!

Here are the workshops that we got during the 1st week :

1. Value workshop by Barri Rind

2. Elevator pitch coaching by Ajit Banerjee

3. Workshop #1: Define your Mission, Value Prop, and Strategy by Peter Blomquist

4. Fireside Chat with Sam Chughtai

5. Workshop #2: Execution and Scale by Emer Dooley

6. Workshop #3: Problem solving & overcoming challenges by Cole Hoover

7. Workshop #4: Culture and Leadership by Kyle Kesterson

8. Workshop #5: Tell Your Story by Susan Bloch

9. Office Hour (individual) with Brandon Fleming, Anita Sulaiman, Linsey Battan and Bob Ness

Dini Photo 2

And here are the list of places that we visit in the 1st week :

1. Farestart Restaurant


3. The Seattle Foundation

4. University of Washington

5. Start Up Hall

Dini Photo 3


While this one is the Networking Event / Session that we got :

1. Techstars Demo Day

2. Techstars Launch Party

3. University of Washington Networking Event with MBA Students

4. Dinner with Barri Rind

Above all those activities, we also got chance of MENTOR MEETING twice in that 1st week. My mentor is Maryann Ness – used to be Kak Hendriyadi’s mentor in batch 1 and wife of other mentor, Bob Ness – who is mentor to Nancy Margried!

Dini Photo 4

Dini Photo 5

The 2nd Week is the Week of CRAFTING OUR PITCH!

This week, we get more intense training and workshop that focus on preparing our 5 minutes pitch. Yes, you have to tell about your social business in only 5 minutes. This is a really big learning for all of us to TELL WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART in our business that we we want people know. Telling our story.

During the 2nd week, we got chance to learn :

1. Workshop #6: Financial Analysis and Modeling by Nawsheen Sharfuddin – our “Mama” Project Catalyst because Nawsheen is the 1st contact communication between us and Jolkona & the Coordinator for Project Catalyst Cohort 2 program! She is AMAZING buddy also for all of us 🙂

2. Workshop #7: Design thinking by Nancy Xu

3. Workshop #8: Prioritization, Focus, Impact & Transparency by Adnan Mahmud – The CoFounder of Jolkona who also CEO of Live Stories, his enterpise that become one of 10 company which selected to participate in intense Techstars program in 2014.

4. PITCH COACHING SESSIONS!!!! Here are our amazing pitch coaches :

Steve Schwartz
Archie Gupta
George Economy
Dan Kranzler
Irene Yamamoto
Ben Friedman
Martina Welke
Ajit Banerjee
Brandon Fleming
Anita Sulaiman

5. Inspiring sharing from Ben Friedman – young social entrepreneur of Homegrown, sustainable sandwich shop!

We also have opportunity to visit :
1. Microsoft
2. Theo’s Chocolate
3. Seattle Tilth
4. Seattle Urban Farm
5. Homegrown
6. Impact Hub
7. Google

And the most important thing is that we have our 5 minutes PITCH session finally on Thursday, 13 November 2014 at WeWork – Yale Avenue, Seattle.

Dini Photo 6


Dini Photo 7


Watch our pitch video here : 

a. Candra Cahyani Gani :
b. Dini Hajarrahmah :
c. Alfatih Timur :

During the 2 weeks, we also have our own homestay host who open their home, heart and kindness for all of us! I have a fabulous host who hosted Mirah from last batch. My host named is Kim Wright and she work as a Director of Philanthropy at The Seattle Foundation. We have great time staying together, have our tea night in front of the TV while talk on some topics, Indonesian-American dinner, pitch practice, and lots of laughs! Thank you Kim for everything!!! I hope to see you soon in Indonesia and have our Wanderlust trip 🙂

Dini Photo 8


Jolkona Super Team!

All of these event & ideas arranged by a Foundation based in Seattle called Jolkona who is Founded by 2 awesome husband & wife; Adnan Mahmud & Nadia Mahmud. Adnan is also a Founder of Livestories, a social enterprise envision to make data for non-data people! During 2 weeks, we are hosted by most of Jolkona team and they are all awesome! Thank you Nawsheen, Monica, Nancy, Adnan, and Nadia! 🙂

Seattle Ecotourism / Community-Based Tourism 

One of my objective joining this program is to partner, find the network with Ecotourism enterprise in Seattle that might be interested to have the destination & project in Indonesia. So, I met 3 of Ecotourism founder in Seattle that inspire me to improve Wanderlust & bring it to the next level. Hopefully, we can make a partnership with them and more International travel company. 3 of them are :

Seattle Exploration!
Even though we have only 2 weeks and our program is very packed & full, I dont want to miss any traveling part to see the city and surrounding! As Seattle famous with a very grunge city, The 1st Starbucks Store, Space Needles, and the beauty of its nature – we found sometime to  explore the city by our own. Kim also bring us to Brainbridge Island in my last day in Seattle before I continue the journey to Vancouver.

Dini Photo 9

Thank you Project Catalyst JOLKONA, Thank you US Embassy for supporting this program & Thank you all the mentor, coach, speaker, entrepreneurs. Thank you for all the awesome host, thank you for all Seattle people!!! You are all awesome!! 🙂

In February, we gonna have chance to present about our social business only in 2.5 minutes in @America – Pacific Place in front of US Embassy & some investors. Lets wish Wanderlust & all the social enterprise the best of luck! 🙂

Dini Photo 10

Keep Wandering,


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

Jolkona is excited to host Project Catalyst in Seattle! Project Catalyst is an accelerator for international social ventures, with a focus on empowering young social entrepreneurs. This three-week intensive workshop brings social entrepreneurs from Indonesia to Seattle, where they can hone their business plans, gain valuable insights, and meet prospective investors and funders.


We are seeking local families & individuals to host these participants in Seattle!

These social leaders are dedicated and engaged students and professionals between the ages of 18 and 30, who are all eager to stay with local hosts and experience Seattle culture. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn about other cultures and share a little of our own Pacific Northwest culture and hospitality. Here are a few helpful details:

  • The time and effort commitment to the host family is minimal
  • Hosts provide a room, are close to bus transportation and may provide a few meals
  • The entrepreneurs have a full schedule and will spend much of their free time working on their projects
  • As long as there is access to the bus, these entrepreneurs will have an Orca card for their commuting needs
  • We will grant a stipend to the host family to cover food expenses

Find the dates of our upcoming program here. If you’d like to host a social entrepreneur, please contact us at



Jolkona has spent the past five years dedicating to bringing transparent and high impact philanthropy to people in need all over the world. With the help of our giving community, we have raised over $700,000 dollars across 45 countries, impacting thousands. However, after gathering five years worth of data, we began to wonder if we were really providing as much impact as possible with such a global focus. What real difference does a thousand dollars make when distributed here and there? What could that money really achieve if it was dedicated to lifting up one country or region at a time?

This was the philosophy that led to the creation of our two newest programs, Lift Bangla and Project Catalyst. Beginning this month, Jolkona will make developing these two programs our primary focus, and we will no longer provide donation opportunities through Give Direct, or Give Together. We believe that these changes will allow us improve our real impact and stay innovative in philanthropy. We hope that you join us as we embark on this new journey.

Lift Bangla takes the model that Jolkona has developed over the last five years – a microgiving platform that provides real feed back for every donation. This time, we will focus on Bangladesh, a growing center of social innovation. We are partnering with Bangladeshi organizations that create new models for healthcare, provide education and many other areas. Previously, finding and funding these projects was a challenge, but we mean to change that with Lift Bangla. As this program develops, we aim to launch Lift in other innovative communities in need.

If you have been following Jolkona in June, you likely saw that the first term of Project Catalyst was a success. This program is another way that we can drive real impact in a developing nation, this time by providing an intensive business development incubator for young social innovators in Indonesia. To learn more about this program, and see the impact it has already had, read the blog pieces covering our first cohort. Our team will dive into selecting the next cohort this month, and the next term of Project Catalyst will begin in October.

Even though we are moving in a new direction, our philosophies are still the same. We are still dedicated to a transparent giving experience that shows real impact. We hope that you join us as we ‘lift’ a new leaf, and once again bring the spirit of innovation into philanthropy. Through August, we will welcome new team members and work on building a thriving community focused on driving social innovation in Bangladesh and Indonesia.

Once again, we want to thank our community for supporting us these past five years, and we hope you are as excited as we are to see the future of these new Jolkona initiatives. Stay tuned for more updates!

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

We’re excited to reveal the newest iteration of Jolkona’s website! We asked Nancy Xu, Jolkona’s design/tech director, about what prompted this redesign and what it means for Jolkona’s future:

Why did you decide to redesign the site?

Our last website was launched in March last year, designed around our two core programs: Give Direct and Give Together. Since then, we have created quite a few new programs that we want to showcase on our website. The programs are so different from Give Direct and Give Together, we might as well make a new website for them!

Jolkona home page

What’s new on

New programs! In addition, now you can see the latest news from all the programs right on the homepage. We have also improved our mobile user experience – most screens are looking pretty good on that little screen.

What are the new programs, and how can people get involved?

  • Lift Bangla: Crowdfunding a nation. Holistic giving experience that enables you to directly fund individuals and community projects in Bangladesh. We are currently looking for volunteers to help engage with the Bangladeshi community here in the U.S.
  • Project Catalyst: Supporting young social entrepreneurs around the world, starting with Indonesia: building their capacity, growing their organization, and as a result, making them more “fundable.” We are looking for entrepreneurs from specialities to be coaches and mentors to the young social entrepreneurs going through our training program.
  • Expedition to World’s Edge: Journeying to the far corners of the world to get firsthand look at nonprofits and social entrepreneurs who are changing their communities. Our next trip is to East Africa in March — we are accepting applications now!
  • Jolkona Works: Working with companies, starting at Microsoft, to design corporate giving programs that increase civic engagement for employees.
  • Give Together has also been updated to reflect feedback from the members of this monthly philanthropy program and increase community engagement.

What are you working on next?

In terms of the website, we still have features that we want to slowly roll out. Give Direct and the blog will be getting a facelift in a few weeks, for example.

Why is it so important that Jolkona stay innovative?

I think that’s the best part about volunteering at Jolkona! We believe constant innovation is the best way to find the right solutions to world’s biggest problems. There are lots of great nonprofits out there that have fixed programs; we really want to add value in a different space, where we can try different things, see what works, iterate and not be afraid to fail.

Take a look around and let us know what you think through our social media channels. 

Keep up with everything Jolkona by following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram.


It has been exactly three years since Campa organized its first tour called “Ancient Java.” Little did they know back in May 2014 that their first tour would mark the beginning of a great social impact company. Today, they have had over 2,400 guests touring the vast, history rich country of Indonesia. Campa has partnered with fifteen Indonesian provinces to drive domestic and international tourism.

Fitri Utami, a key member of the Campa team, tells us how in 2016 the company was struggling with an identity crisis. It was at that time that Fitri heard about Jolkona and the Catalyst program. Fitri believed the Catalyst program would help her analyze Campa’s business model with the help of experienced mentors. Campa’s founder, Fitria Chaerani, agreed and fully supported Fitri’s application. After being part of Jolkona’s Spring 2016 Catalyst Program Fitri acquired the tools to strengthen her team’s working culture. The Mission & Vision session with Peter Blomquist helped Fitri see the need Campa had to re-craft their own mission and vision in a way that reflected the Campa team’s values.

Today Campa has a solid identity. Fitri and her team are strongly bound to their mission of providing a sustainable tourism product to their customers. They are now making progress on their strategy and this year they are on track to attract 2,000+ guests.

Campa has also grown their company adding two new team members this past February. They are also expanding the number of destinations that now includes Banda Islands which happens to have a historical connection to Manhattan, NY.

All of this progress has not gone unrecognized. Campa was accepted to a social impact program supported by ASEAN Foundation & SAP. At the conclusion of this two-week program, Campa was able to design a digital marketing campaign aimed to attract foreign tourism. They paired this campaign with the website advice they received from Adam Dreiblatt during the Jolkona Catalyst program. Campa is now ready to re-launch their website in the next few months.

Congratulations to Fitri and the rest of the Campa team on your progress!

Dan Borgen

Dan Borgen has over 25 years of experience in consulting. He has successfully led over 120 IT planning and related consulting projects for both the public and private sectors. Today he is a trusted advisor and facilitator in IT strategic planning, IT organizational Analysis, and procurement assistance.

Mr. Borgen has his own consulting firm. He is a creative thinker and a proven catalyst for positive change. His proven track record of assisting firms and local governments to get positive, cost-effective results.

Meet the Social Entrepreneurs of the Cohort 1 (June ’14)!

Jolkona hosted five social entrepreneurs from different parts of Indonesia for the Jolkona Catalyst pilot program in Seattle from June 9th to June 20th, 2014 in collaboration with the US Embassy in Jakarta. Besides enjoying the gorgeous Seattle summer, Cohort 1 worked on their business plans, gained valuable insights, and met prospective investors.

Read More

Grace Wall, Program Associate Intern, Jolkona Internship

Jolkona is happy to to offer an internship opportunity to Seattle University student Grace Wall. Grace joins the team as a Program Associate intern and will work alongside our Executive Director to gain firsthand nonprofit experience. She will contribute to the growth and development of Jolkona’s social entrepreneur community and the Catalyst program. She will also be learning about Jolkona’s donors through a variety of fundraising projects.

Grace is a second year student at Seattle University in the Matteo Ricci College’s Humanities for Leadership degree program. The program teaches students to better understand themselves, the world around them, and their place within that world. Students learn how to more effectively interact and work with other people in leadership capacities.

Students improve their leadership capabilities by participating in both a local and international internship during their four years at Seattle University. They learn about the structure and organization of the professional world through real world, hands-on experience. Students can then better understand how to be more effective in their future roles as professionals.

This will be Jolkona’s second Seattle University intern but our first Matteo Ricci intern. We are thrilled to continue developing this local partnership with Seattle University. Grace is excited to work with Jolkona as part of the team. Her prior experience includes working as an accounting clerk as well as a lifeguard and swimming instructor. Grace is passionate about entrepreneurship and interested in better understanding how to be effective and successful in the professional world.

Many of Grace’s family members are entrepreneurs. From a young age she has seen what it takes to run a business having spent time around her family’s companies. In the future, she hopes to be an active member of the Wall Family Enterprise Business Advisory Council as well as possibly run her parents’ company, Hatch Building Supply, once her father retires.

For now, Grace is focusing on succeeding as a university student and Army ROTC Cadet at Seattle University. She values dedication and is ready to work hard and learn new things. You can learn more about Grace Wall on her LinkedIn page.