Let me tell you when magic happens. It transpires when few brilliant minds, optimistic hearts, energetic young people, and a fantastic facilitator meet. The Ideashop: Coding your way to opportunity  organized by the World Bank in partnership with the Bangladesh StartUp Cup on June 14th at its Dhaka Office showed us glimpses of such magic. And it is only the beginning of our journey together.
Confident that the solutions to many of the challenges facing youth can come from within themselves, the World Bank  and Microsoft has launched a regional grant competition in four South Asia countries – Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka. The regional grant competition titled Coding your way to opportunity  invites innovative ideas from youth led organizations and NGOs that will expand coding knowledge amongst youth and help them secure gainful employment.
The Ideashop brought together young coders, entrepreneurs, youth-led startups, organizations and NGOs, and gave them the opportunity to network and work in groups to brainstorm on ideas and proposals. It was a metamorphosis from fun introductions, exciting team-building and networking exercises, to great idea generation techniques. At the end of the session, the participants came up with unique ideas and strategies to help young people learn to code. Coding and computing have become essential and desirable job skills and the aim of each idea was to propel job creation and development in Bangladesh .
You could feel the aura of positivity in the air at the Ideashop. If you were carefully observing, you could also see the shades of optimism when you looked at the faces of all the participants. The group was joyful not only because of the way the entire session was designed and implemented, but also for being recognized as aspiring entrepreneurs and given the chance to mingle with other similar minds.
Through a very interesting facilitation mechanism, our facilitator, Minhaz Anwar, Organizer of Bangladesh StartUp Cup broke the participants into different groups twice. The first groups brainstormed and came up with three core ideas to help spread coding amongst youth – keeping in mind the other challenge – the idea needs to be explained within six words! The kind of talent we had in the room, this group flourished when they are hit with the crisis – which made the whole exercise more fun! In the second round, the participants were exposed to the “And, also” idea, where we were not allowed to dismiss any idea of our group mates, but rather add-value to it. Such a fantastic mechanism of chaos-free brainstorming and idea generation technique – was a one of a kind experience for many.
If you silently worked around invisible in the room – you would have felt the sense of achievement among all the participants. You could hear the general discussion was leading to something like this, “Even if we do not get the grant, it was lovely meeting someone like you; and that through such an interesting session.” Now, this feeling that all of us felt was… priceless! We took back great ideas and a renewed sense of how we, as the young people of Bangladesh, can work to help other young people develop relevant skills for better jobs.
Thank you for letting us experience – magic!
Photos by Studio Wash and Mohammad Shahedal Kaium/World Bank