Young Founders School is an education platform (charity) which is not a traditional school. It educates 11-18-year olds’ on the 21st century skills using the entrepreneurial lenses.
The YFS programs mainly consist of 3-hour long Ideation Express and a weekend-long Bootcamp where students from various schools participate to develop a business pitch deck from scratch and compete in the presence of Venture Capitalist Judges. The main motive behind the YFS program is to nurture youngsters with an entrepreneurial mindset. Also, since this is a free school, the school ensures that students from all socio-economic backgrounds feel welcome to be a part of it and benefit as much as possible from what is being offered.
Young Founders School Coordinator for Bangladesh, Sanjida Akter Tanny says she was very skeptical when she accepted the proposal. “My experience definitely involves working around the startup community and organizing educational seminars and workshops, but never one to do with the age range that YFS targets. However, upon talking to my Founder what I realized was they wanted someone who is a go-getter and learns and grows from hands-on experience, and I believe I have been that person all my life. They weren’t looking for a formal educator, nor were they bothered about the fact that my educational background had no relation with my previous or current professional background. I believe this was what got me intrigued to join.”
In a country like Bangladesh, schools are usually very cynical about extracurricular activities, unless it comes from their planned activities. Tanny confirms that the case is very fifty-fifty in this regard. “If I get lucky, certain schools are already aware of the benefits of developing an entrepreneurial mindset within the students from a young age, and a lot of them may also have the subject as a co-curricular. Most schools I have approached till now have been very supportive, others have listened to the idea but never really responded back so, to be frank, I believe I am still learning what it takes to get the schools get interested in our camps. What I must mention is, our approach of teaching and the soft skills that we cover in our programs gets a lot of educators interested.
What makes any idea successful is the execution. Tanny mentions that in Hong Kong, some of them have been working around their ideas to take it further and have implemented the beta phase. In Bangladesh- not yet. “A few teams have shown interest to take the projects further and we are guiding them through this as well, but building something might take a while since we are just a year old in Bangladesh.”
There have been quite a few ideas from our Bangladeshi bootcamps though, which have a lot of potential for the future – one of such ideas is the winning team from our October 2019 camp from Team Lets Play; their idea is to create a platform that allows youngsters to get connected with various fields and sport centres, allowing them to be involved in physical games instead of depending on gadgets for recreation.
Another idea was from team Spreeha was to build a platform allowing people to rent dresses in order to contribute to sustainable fashion.
Some of our students have also gone as far as to contribute to social ideas such as making apps to provide immediate protection to females who might be in danger and also to making platforms giving an opportunity to create environment/eco-friendly events.
Tanny feels that there is a need for more of such creative camps to spring up in Bangladesh. “We have already entered the 4th industrial revolution which requires the upcoming generation to learn skills which essentially our previous generation did not require. While schools may take time to adjust the curriculum according to the new skill set requirement, I think it provides a lot of opportunities for such camps to cover these skill-sets among the youth.
Tanny feels that while gender does hold people back in Bangladesh she has always practiced her profession keeping her gender-neutrality in mind. “By doing this I ensure that I do not surround myself with any sort of barrier in my work field due to my gender.” That being said, Tanny admits that she has been ignored quite a few times for being too young for her position. “What I would like to be explicit about is how my gender and my enthusiasm to explore opportunities for YFS has allowed me to come across people with various other intentions that have nothing to do with work. And overcoming these has been quite straightforward for me – I ignore anything that I am not comfortable with, or anything I feel is violating professionalism. I must also mention the immense support I receive from my team. Although we are all regions apart, I have had the freedom to express how I feel under certain circumstances and my team has been extremely supportive.”